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Voice of the People's Citizen Cabinet for Oklahoma Offers Surprisingly Bi-Partisan Recommendations

Aired on Wednesday, April 22nd.

On this installment of ST, we once again speak with policy analyst and political psychologist Steven Kull, the founder and president of a Washington-based non-partisan organization called Voice of the People. This group, which utilizes innovative polling methods and cutting-edge technology to enact an ongoing "campaign for a citizen cabinet," aims to give ordinary citizens a greater role in American government. Kull appeared on our show last summer in order to announce Voice of the People's then-new Citizen Cabinet initiative, a poll-driven process in Oklahoma, Maryland, and Virginia whereby citizens are consulted on a range of high-priority national issues to see if they can actually -- unlike, say, the U.S. Congress -- find common ground on such issues. Indeed, Kull is announcing his organization's first round of Oklahoma findings today in OKC. As noted in this regard at the Voice of the People website: "Large majorities of Republicans and Democrats [living in the Sooner State] agree on recommendations that would cover most of the looming Social Security shortfall.... The Oklahoma Citizen Cabinet is an online representative panel of Oklahoma registered voters, scientifically-selected and managed by the University of Maryland's Program for Public Consultation at the School of Public Policy. It will be consulted on a series of issues facing Congress in the months ahead. Very large majorities of the [Oklahoma Citizen Cabinet] recommend reducing benefits for the top quarter of earners (81 percent), raising the full retirement age to 68 years old (81 percent), raising the cap on income subject to the payroll tax (90 percent), and raising the payroll tax rate from 6.2 to 6.6 percent (73 percent). Together, these steps would eliminate two-thirds of the Social Security shortfall. Partisan differences are minor, with more than two-thirds of Republicans and Democrats endorsing each of these steps.... Interestingly, when respondents made their recommendations for Social Security reforms, most were not simply looking out for their own interests. Large majorities of those with high incomes favored raising the cap on taxable income, though it would increase their own taxes. Likewise, people under the age of 48 overwhelmingly favored raising the retirement age even though they were told only they would be affected." At some level, then, the common good might well inform the views or opinions of many if not most of our state's citizens, after all. Kull reviews his organization's findings with us in detail on today's StudioTulsa.

Rich Fisher passed through KWGS about thirty years ago, and just never left. Today, he is the general manager of Public Radio Tulsa, and the host of KWGS’s public affairs program, StudioTulsa, which celebrated its twentieth anniversary in August 2012 . As host of StudioTulsa, Rich has conducted roughly four thousand long-form interviews with local, national, and international figures in the arts, humanities, sciences, and government. Very few interviews have gone smoothly. Despite this, he has been honored for his work by several organizations including the Governor's Arts Award for Media by the State Arts Council, a Harwelden Award from the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa, and was named one of the “99 Great Things About Oklahoma” in 2000 by Oklahoma Today magazine.
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