It’s hard to believe how quickly the coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed our lives and is shaping a “new normal” of public interaction. We continue to be grateful for the first responders across the country who have cared for the sick, the leaders who face unprecedented challenges balancing the health of individuals and the financial well-being of their communities, and the businesses owners and everyday citizens who are making sacrifices and taking precautions to help keep people healthy, in lockdown and as states begin to open up again.
With all of this uncertainty, The Policy Circle team realized that policy matters now, perhaps more than ever. At this critical juncture in our country’s history, we remain steadfast in our commitment to inform, inspire and develop civic leaders.
Our programs provide reliable information, build leadership and critical thinking skills, which are imperative for our country to move forward with hope and a plan. With a focus on the economic impact of policy and responding to the needs of Policy Circle members, The Policy Circle has developed a series of virtual programs called Move the Needle Virtual Experiences. These events provide an opportunity for our members and partners to connect, and cover timely topics with special guests, experts and policy leaders.
Typically, these virtual experiences are only available to financial supporters of The Policy Circle. During this time of crisis, however, these valuable resources have been made available network-wide.
MOVE THE NEEDLE VIRTUAL EXPERIENCES
Since March, participants have had unique access to hear directly from a Governor and two members of the U.S. House of Representatives about the unprecedented legislation and implementation of policies to combat the coronavirus pandemic and the related economic fallout. Participants also had the opportunity to discuss what leadership and federalism look like in a crisis, and encouraged attendees to take action. Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement. Below is a summary of The Policy Circle’s Virtual Experiences.
The State of American Agriculture and the Food Supply Chain with Senator Joni Ernst
Agriculture is a constant presence in our daily lives at the local, national, and international levels – a vital piece of our critical infrastructure. But most Americans don’t dive deeper into the food supply chain details on a regular basis. Because of the direct impact on our everyday lives, Americans see and feel vulnerabilities in the system in the form of worker shortages, limits on buying certain foods and unstocked grocery shelves. This can happen anytime – with farmland impacted by natural disasters like floods, tornados and hurricanes.
The coronavirus, says Senator Ernst, has sparked “a new awakening” of interest in food security and sourcing. Americans want to know: Who is handling our food? Where is our food coming from? What are the safety measures in place? Senator Ernst walked attendees through the answers to these questions, the policies that impact our agriculture system the most, and reminded each of us that being involved and making a difference is possible.
Public-Private Partnerships in the Age of COVID-19 with Betsy Atkins, Elaine Duke and Karla Jones
During a crisis, the roles of the federal government, state’s and private corporations come to the forefront. While it may seem overwhelming how much of our lives and how many sectors have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, it also means that there are many people, businesses and entities united around a single mission. The Policy Circle was lucky enough to be joined by Betsy Atkins, Elaine Duke, and Karla Jones for some ideas on how partnerships between the public and private sectors can bring about the best solutions – with the right balance of oversight and governance.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) developed the National Response Framework, which aligns key roles and responsibilities across varying U.S. resources and departments during a time of crisis like coronavirus. The framework also outlines responses that are federally supported, state-managed, locally executed, and engaged with the private sector. As states of emergency wear on, continued support for local economies and communities is necessary to help the nation recover. In coordination with local governments, private sector organizations play an important role by re-establishing economic activity and restoring community services.
Communication and planning between the public and private sector will be key as we look to the future. While Atkins and Duke gave examples that show the strength of these partnerships, they can be made even stronger. Panelists agreed that plans should ensure such partnerships are not formed in the moment of need, but rather are already in place with the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders well-established.
Opportunity in Crisis: America’s Healthcare System with Sally Pipes and Gloria Sachdev
For many Americans, the extent to which government decisions impact our lives has become more and more evident. None more evident than in the debate over healthcare. In fact, during the 2018 midterm elections, a majority of voters ranked health care as the most important issue. Now, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, many are asking: how will this change the healthcare system? For some ideas on where health care policy debate stands and what the future holds, The Policy Circle spoke with Sally Pipes, President, CEO, and Thomas W. Smith, Fellow in Health Care Policy at the Pacific Research Institute, and Gloria Sachdev, President and CEO of the Employers’ Forum of Indiana.
The key issues Pipes and Sachdev outlined surrounding the healthcare debate center on access to care, improving patient care while also reducing costs, and innovations in the industry that are helping meet current challenges. We also may be able to find opportunity in crisis, and focus on coronavirus-induced measures that can lead to permanent, positive changes. For example, telehealth has allowed patients to access healthcare while still respecting stay-at-home orders, but Sally Pipes believes this can be a long-term solution by allowing patients to more quickly and easily access the services of specialists without the imposition of travel.
Economic Dominance, U.S. China Relations and Playing the Long [Policy] Game with Heather Nauert
Even before the coronavirus outbreak, U.S. foreign policy in the Asia Pacific region had vital national security, diplomatic, and economic implications. On April 15th, Heather Nauert, Hudson Institute fellow and former Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs at the State Department, joined The Policy Circle to gather the pieces of the puzzle to understand how we got to where we are today, and where we are going in our relationship with China.
The first step to understanding China, Nauert points out, is understanding that China operates very differently than the United States does. This is the nature of the authoritarian regime of the Chinese Communist Party and the Politburo, two bodies that set the tone and make almost all decisions regarding leadership and the law. The rest of our knowledge is limited by China’s secrecy and the lack of freedom of the press, which prevents our access to further information. What we do know about China is its long term strategies to achieve its goal of global economic dominance.
What Does Leadership Look Like in a Crisis with Nebraska Governor, Pete Ricketts
A recent Wall Street Journal article “Federalism and the Coronavirus Lockdown” notes that “lockdown and closure orders were issued by state governments” and that the federal government “has no general authority to dictate to state governments.” We’re seeing this right now as state and local leaders are at the forefront of the crisis in terms of implementing solutions.
What is it like to be one of these state and local leaders? Participants were fortunate to have Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts describe what leadership is like in uncertain times. For Governor Ricketts, it resembles leadership in certain times: making sure there is a strategy, having the right people on your team, and holding those people accountable.
Controlling the Narrative vs Igniting Responsibility and Innovation with Lincoln Network’s Aaron Ginn
“Be easy on people, hard on ideals,” says Aaron Ginn, co-founder and president of the Lincoln Network who joined The Policy Circle’s first Move the Needle Virtual Discussion. Remember that conversation is transformative and truth and details matter. With all the information floating around and potentially being misconstrued, it’s important to remember you don’t need credentials to be taken seriously: you can always speak up, ask a question, and share an idea. Feel confident that you do have a voice. While we have voices to express our thoughts freely, it’s also our job to be well-cited and do our research. We can encourage our leaders and public officials to do the same, and to have a scientific mindset when discussing and communicating important numbers, details, and data to the public. A good place to start, Ginn said, is to: “Never trust a lonely number” – always put data in context, such as providing a point of comparison Ask what the goal is – why does this data matter? What exactly are we measuring?
An Investment in The Policy Circle = An Investment in Your Leadership Skills and Your Community
Do you find these conversations enlightening? Has your engagement with the Policy Circle been valuable to you and your community? We need your support to continue to provide virtual experiences, reliable content and programming to our 3,500 members around the country.
STATE-WIDE VIRTUAL DISCUSSIONS
Michigan Virtual Discussion with Congressman Bill Huizenga: Federalism and Free-Enterprise in a Post-Coronavirus America
The coronavirus pandemic has become a case study in federalism as each state across the country takes precautions to balance flattening the curve while also ensuring the economy is still functioning. As more counties and states wade into the choppy waters of re-opening businesses and establishing trust, what are next steps for re-opening the economy? On April 17, The Policy Circle engaged in a virtual discussion on this topic with Michigan Congressman Bill Huizenga. More than 30 participants gathered to discuss Michigan’s response to this crisis and what the economic landscape will look like going forward.
Much like there is no one-size-fits-all response for the entire U.S., different types of responses may be necessary across the state, which means regionalization can be a possibility in reopening industries that have been shut down to address the virus. How can local governments balance the economic hardship caused by lockdowns with the real possibility of a second wave of the virus? How can public officials work with private enterprises to get the economy back online?
Florida Virtual Discussion with Congressman Mike Waltz: Civic Duty, Women Leaders and National Security
As we stay in our homes to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, it’s still important for us to remember to turn our attention outwards. For Congressman Mike Waltz (FL-6), the first Green Beret to serve in Congress, a special forces officer in Afghanistan, Africa, and the Middle East, and a former defense policy advisor, balancing domestic and international challenges is a part of daily life. He shared with us what challenges small businesses and communities face in Florida and across the U.S. right now.
Florida has the fourth largest economy in the U.S. (which is heavily reliant upon tourism), is a global hub for imports and exports, and has the second largest population of adults ages 65 and older (20.5%). This all means the coronavirus is hitting Florida hard, which is why Congressman Waltz believes communication between himself and his constituents is more important than ever. And yet even with all these challenges at home to attend to, there are still reasons to look beyond our borders. The coronavirus is very much a challenge for the international intelligence community, as many of our Policy Circle women with backgrounds in national security and intelligence shared with us.
Texas Virtual Discussion with Congressman Chip Roy and Ellen Troxclair: Federalism, the Coronavirus and Civic Duty
The government is not exactly known for its speed; on the contrary, the government’s tendency is to be notoriously slow. But the past few weeks have seen unprecedented speed in the passage of legislation and in implementation of policies to combat the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fall out. What is it like to be on the back end of this legislation?
We were joined by Texas Congressman Chip Roy, who gave some insight on his thought processes when bills make their way to his desk in the midst of unknowns and urgency. Congressman Roy takes a few things into consideration, including hearing directly from constituents. Hearing from constituents one of the most important parts of the process, for Congressman Roy and his fellow representatives and other local leaders across the country.
Indiana Virtual Discussion with Congresswoman Susan Brooks: Supporting Small Business and Testing Capacity
In Indiana, The Policy Circle members had the opportunity to hear from Congresswoman Susan Brooks just before she spoke on the CARES Act vote on the U.S. House of Representatives floor on March 27, 2020. The Congresswoman noted that Members were maintaining social distancing recommendations while in the Capitol, and that the mood was tense but hope filled. She detailed on a high-level the aspects of the historic CARES Act legislation that she thought would be most impactful.
The magnitude of impact that some industries have seen eclipses the others, a point Martha Hoover of Patachou Inc put into perspective while discussing how brick and mortar business have been impacted with The Policy Circle Co-Founder Kathy Hubbard. On testing, there are still many questions about who should get tested, when and the capacity for tests currently in the U.S. Rob Metcalf from Eli Lilly spoke on the unique skills the company tapped into in order to quickly ramp up testing facilities and capacity in the state.
Wisconsin Virtual Discussion with American Enterprise Institute Fellow, Tim Carney: Re-establishing Trust and a Return to Normalcy
During a financial crisis, trust may not be the first thing on most people’s minds. But AEI’s Tim Carney and communities across the U.S. know that when it comes to the good of the neighborhood, trust is a key component. The degree to which communities can trust each other is what allows them to better handle adversity, and what staves off loneliness, vulnerability, and in extreme cases, deaths of despair. As small businesses and religious institutions shut their doors and local restaurants struggle to stay afloat, we realize just how key these establishments are to forming and maintaining social connections and trust in our communities.
Illinois Virtual Discussion: Supporting Our Communities During Social Distancing
What’s the current outlook of social distancing and how do we stay connected while following the guidelines set out? Zoom, like how this meeting was hosted, is one way to connect with larger groups. To inform our discussion, we selected the Policy Circle Brief “Stitching The Fabric of Neighborhoods.” The goal of that brief is to get us to think about the pieces that hold a thriving community together. Co-founder Sylvie Legere started the discussion, giving her perspective on her own community and friends and family who have been impacted economically – local businesses owners. Throughout the virtual discussion, the concept that was top of mind was that we must maintain a sense of normalcy, and we must get back to that sense of normalcy as soon as possible in order for our free market economy to get back on its feet. In getting back to a sense of normalcy, what are the measures we need to take to get back to this? Visit The Policy Circle’s Resource page for more on how to take action.
Share Your Voice
How can you lead during an uncertain time? Step up and contact your local representatives: Share your perspective on social distancing guidelines, the economic impacts to your business or your local economy, or stories of organizations that are innovative in shaping public policy.
Host Your Own Virtual Discussion
Explore The Policy Circle Brief Library and utilize the following Briefs to spur engaging and timely conversations: Healthcare, the Federal Debt, U.S. Constitution. Don’t forget to review the Playbook to facilitate effective conversations. explore The Policy Circle Brief Library and utilize the following Briefs to spur engaging and timely conversations: Healthcare, the Federal Debt, U.S. Constitution, Free-Enterprise and Economic Growth. Don’t forget to review the Playbook to facilitate effective conversations.
Questions about hosting your first Virtual Circle meeting?
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The Policy Circle’s unique programming informs, inspires and develops civic leaders for 3,500 members and more than 320 circles around the country. For more information visit www.thepolicycircle.org.