Jeff Merkley is sort of like the U.S.
economy: He’s at the bottom, working his way up. In Merkley’s case, the bottom
has to do with the U.S. Senate’s seniority system. But being a freshman senator
hasn’t curbed his determination to help improve Oregon’s economy.
Merkley has a seat at the table for
some of the most important issues coming through the Senate. He has been
appointed to four committees:
- Health, Education, Labor and
Pensions, which will deal with whatever health-care reform comes out of
- Environment and Public Works, which
will tackle highways and carbon cap-and-trade legislation.
- Banking, Housing and Urban
Development, which will handle everything from Wall Street regulation to
- Budget, which sets the framework for overall
As he told the Statesman Journal last
week, “I’m going to be very busy.”
With a gloomy economic forecast
looming for the rest of this decade, Merkley is focused on helping boost the
housing sector. That would greatly benefit Oregon, as many of our
manufacturing, construction and related jobs are tied to housing.
Merkley noted that mortgages have
become so convoluted that many borrowers don’t know who owns or operates their
loans. But it benefits all sides if a borrower and a lender can renegotiate the
loan terms to avoid foreclosure. The borrower gets to stay in the house; the
lender makes at least some return on its loan.
Government, Merkley said, can have a
positive role in encouraging the renegotiation, and possibly the reissuance, of
As a freshman senator, Merkley doesn’t have the
influence of senior senators. But it’s good to know he’s looking out for