Former Governor Ed Rendell, former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, and journalist Richard Wolffe in discussion at the Washington Ideas Forum 2012.
Jonathan Alter is a senior editor at Newsweek, where since 1991 he has written an acclaimed column on politics, history, media, and society at large.
He is also an analyst and contributing correspondent for NBC News. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with his wife and three children.
After 34 years of public service, including 24 years as an elected official, Governor Rendell continues to pursue many of the same issues he was passionate about while serving. His commitment to making America a cleaner, more efficient place and to fostering investment in our nation's crumbling infrastructure is as strong as it ever was. Rendell has become a champion for progress in the area of alternative energy, and now serves as a consultant or board member for several green and alternative energy firms, including Own Energy, Element Partners and Ocean Thermal Energy. He has also remained heavily involved in the campaign for government efficiency and strategic cost cutting through his work with entities such as Government Sourcing Solutions, Public Financial Management and Greenhill Advisors.
Perhaps no other issue has been and continues to be as important to Governor Rendell as America's dire need to rebuild and reinvest in its infrastructure. As Governor, Rendell worked with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to create an organization called "Building America's Future." The organization focuses on the need for a more significant investment in American infrastructure projects to ensure that America maintains its place as a global economic power. Governor Rendell currently serves as Co-Chair of the organization and travels throughout the country speaking about this issue.
Rendell served two terms as Governor of Pennsylvania (2003-2011) and oversaw a budget of $28.3 billion as the chief executive of the nation's 6th-most-populous state. As Governor, Rendell was committed to making government more responsible and responsive to the public's needs, and he successfully cut wasteful spending and improved efficiency leading to savings of over $1 billion. His legislative agenda focused on commonsense political reform and putting progress ahead of partisanship. Through his unprecedented strategic investments, he energized Pennsylvania's economy, revitalized communities, improved education, protected the environment, expanded access to health care to all children, and made affordable prescription drugs available to older Pennsylvanians. During his two terms as Mayor of Philadelphia (1992-2000), Rendell eliminated a crippling deficit, balanced the City's budget, and generated five consecutive budget surpluses. Philadelphia's renaissance, which The New York Times called "the most stunning turnaround in recent urban history," is largely attributed to his determination, inspiration, and energy.
Before serving as Mayor, Rendell was elected District Attorney of Philadelphia for two terms from 1978 through 1985. Rendell also served as Chairman of the Democratic National Com - mittee during the 2000 Presidential election. He currently sits on several boards, is a Brookings Fellow and teaches government and politics courses at the University of Pennsylvania. Rendell recently finished his autobiography, A Nation of Wusses. It is scheduled to be released in early June. Advanced copies are available at: http://www.wiley.com/buy/1118279050
An Army veteran, he holds a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. from Villanova Law School.
Michael Steele is chairman of the Republican National Committee. Previously, Steele was lieutenant governor of Maryland, the first African American elected to statewide office. He also served as chairman of GOPAC and held posts on the National Federal Election Reform Commission and the NAACP Blue Ribbon Commission on Election Reform. President George W. Bush named Steele a member of the US delegation to the investiture of Pope Benedict XVI and as a member of the delegation to the Leon H. Sullivan Summit VIII in Tanzania. He is a regular contributor to Fox News and regular host of the Salem Radio Network’s nationally syndicated “Morning in America Show.” Steele is the founder of The Steele Group, a business and legal consulting firm. His work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, and Politico among others.
Richard Wolffe is a Daily Beast columnist and an award-winning journalist. He covered the entire length of Barack Obama's presidential campaign for Newsweek magazine. His book about the election, Renegade: The Making of a President, was a New York Times bestseller in 2009. His new book, Revival: The Struggle for Survival Inside the Obama White House, was published in November.