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How Paul Ryan Avoids Tough Questions

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Cross Posted at Peoria Progressive.

Remember how Paul Ryan got booed and had to answer tough questions about his medicare voucher plan when he held town hall meetings earlier this year? Well it seems the Congressman has discovered how to avoid such embarrassing scenes in the future: charge admission to keep out the riff raff. Per David Dayen at Firedog Lake.

I’ve been writing about the invisible town hall revolution, where dozens of conservative members of Congress have been bombarded by ordinary citizens delivering progressive messages. This actually started after the passage of the Paul Ryan budget in the spring, and some members have figured out methods to deal with it. Some do only tele-town halls. Some throw out “disruptive” constituents asking the wrong questions. Some screen the questions. Some hold no town halls altogether. Some stack town halls with loyal constituents. And now, Paul Ryan and friends have hit on a new approach – charge money for the town hall meeting. According to David Dayen at Firedog Lake:

It will cost $15 to ask Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) a question in person during the August congressional recess.

The House Budget Committee chairman isn’t holding any face-to-face open-to-the-public town hall meetings during the recess, but like several of his colleagues he will speak only for residents willing to open their wallets […]

Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) is scheduled to appear Aug. 23 at a luncheon gathering of the Arizona Republican Lawyers Association. For $35, attendees can question Quayle and enjoy a catered lunch at the Phoenix office of the Snell & Wilmer law firm.

And Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.) took heat in Duluth this weekend for holding private events in his district’s population and media center — including a $10-per-head meeting hosted next week by the local chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, which on its invitation notes that the organization “supported Chip in his stunning upset over long time Congressman Jim Oberstar in the 2010 election.”

There is no constitutional requirement that Congress Critters hold open meeting with their constituents, but citizens do have the right to petition their representatives and their government. There should at least be a political price to pay for such cowardly evasions. Per Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesman Graeme Zielinski:

“Paul Ryan has had a hard time going before open crowds, and for good reason,” Zielinski said. “I’m sure Ryan doesn’t want to go before the public to explain while his extreme ideology caused Standard & Poor’s to downgrade U.S. long-term treasury bonds. Beside, Ryan likes smaller settings — the kind where you can cozy up to a hedge fund manager and get a good $350 bottle of wine.”

Closer to home , I received an invitation to one of several “listening sessions” Rep. Aaron Schock will be holding in the near future. They are all in little bitty rural communities and appear to be scheduled to last about 20 minutes each, all in one day. No admission fee afaik. But I would much rather see Schock hold an open meeting for anyone who cares to come for a discussion devoted to jobs and the economy. Schock has some ideas about how to create jobs – or rather, he has talking points that have been given to him to mouth. Other people have other ideas. I think it would be useful to hold an open and open minded discussion about all these ideas in an atmosphere in which frank and honest exchanges are possible. No insulting or racist signs, no name calling by either side. Just a conversation between an elected official and all those he represents – not just friends of the Congressman.

Written by slothropia

August 16th, 2011 at 11:34 am

Congressional Votes by Central Illinois Critters and Senators

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A bit over a month ago I promised to keep an eye on votes in the House of Representatives by three local Reps: Debbie Halvorson, Phil Hare and Aaron Schock. I also thought it would be a good idea to monitor actions by Illinois’ one and a half Senators (I can’t really consider Burris a real Senator. Can you?)

I am ashamed to say I have gone several weeks without recording such an update, but I will now try to redeem myself. If you are keeping score at home you can get roll call votes and all sorts of info on House actions at the House Clerk’s office.

Yesterday (June 24) the House passed a bill imposing tougher sanctions on Iran. All three locals voted yea. The Senate passed their version way back in March.

The House vote btw, was 408 to 8. The 8 nays included six Dems (among them Conyers and Kucinich) and two GOP (such as Ron Paul).

Also yesterday the House passed its version of a Medicare update bill to make sure Doctors are properly reimbursed for treating Medicare patients. This is the bill that Nancy Pelosi said would not be passed until the Senate dealt with a jobs/unemployment benefits bill. The Senate in fact dealt with such a bill this week, although it did not pass.

The House this week passed and sent to the Senate a bill to provide consumer protection to users of prepaid phone cards. Hare and Halvorson voted to protect consumers. Guess who Aaron Schock voted to protect. Yup. Corporations.

Other major legislation (excluding resolutions and amendment votes) passed by the House in recent weeks include:

  • The FHA Reform Act of 2010. All three locals voted for.
  • The Small Business Lending Fund Act, designed to give greater tax breaks to small businesses. Hare and Halvorson voted for but Aaron Schock and his Republican brothers and sisters apparently don’t think small businesses should get tax breaks to create jobs.
  • The DISCLOSE Act, to (among other things) require CEOs to appear in campaign ads their corporations pay for.
  • Again, Halvorson and Hare on one side and Aaron Schock on the other, the side of corporations of course. Quel surprise, non?

    OK, so that’s your quick and dirty summary of major House action over the last few weeks. I will be more diligent in the future.

    Coming soon, a rundown of Senate action since the Memorial Day break.

    Written by slothropia

    June 25th, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    Congressional Activity, May 11-14

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    Here are this weeks major votes by our local critters:

    May 12: The House passed an amendment to the Internal Revenue Code to include children of Vietnam War and certain Korean War veterans receiving care and services through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for spina bifida-related medical conditions as meeting the definition of minimum essential coverage under requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

    Halvorson, Hare and Schock all voted Yea.

    That is it for actual legislation voted on this week. The rest of the House activity was parliamentary activity like consideration of amendments and resolutions that only monsters would vote against. Like one expressing sympathy for the victims of the floods in Tennessee , Kentucky and Mississippi. No! Boo!. To heck with the flood victims.

    Over on the Senate side, Burris and Durbin have been busy with their 98 other colleagues considering the Financial Reform legislation. Some amendments passed and some failed. My favorite is the amendment introd by Bernie Sanders (Socialist, Vermont) to audit the Federal Reserve Bank. The amendment’s description is as follows:

    To require the non-partisan Government Accountability Office to conduct an independent audit of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System that does not interfere with monetary policy, to let the American people know the names of the recipients of over $2,000,000,000,000 in taxpayer assistance from the Federal Reserve System, and for other purposes.

    Guess what! It passed 96-0. Go Bernie, Go Bernie.

    Who knew there were at least 96 socialists in the U.S. Senate.

    Written by slothropia

    May 14th, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Halvorson, Hare, Schock Votes – May 6

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    On Thursday, May 6 Halvorson and Hare in favor of the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act. Schock voted Nay.

    The Bill passed 246-161, with 12 GOP voting yea and 7 Dems voting nay.

    I haven’t checked but I assume all three local reps voted on Wednesday to support Mothers Day. No, seriously, there was an actual resolution passed to support Mothers Day. Talk about your profiles in courage…

    Also on Wednesday, the House passed a resolution to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Kent State Massacre (referred to as ‘shootings’ in the resolution).

    The final vote was 415 to 0 with 2 Republicans (neither of them Schock) voting present. All 3 Central Illinois reps voted yea.

    Written by slothropia

    May 7th, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    Schock in the Hotseat?

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    Cross posted at Daily Kos.

    Greetings from Central Illinois. Specifically from the 18th congressional district of the Prairie State. The (Fightin’?) 18th is composed of the Peoria metropolitan area and a whole lot of rural.

    Here in the 18th District, Caterpillar is the largest employer – or was until they laid off over 20,000 workers. The President seems to understand the importance of Caterpillar to the economy of Peoria and will be visiting one of that company’s facilities tomorrow, Thursday, February 12.

    In fact, President Obama will be joined on Air Force one by Caterpillar CEO Jim Owen. Owen, by the way, is a member of Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

    The President’s visit to Peoria is part of his push for passage of the economic stimulus bill that came out of a House/Senate conference today and will almost certainly receive final passage in a matter of days.

    The 18th has long been a GOP district, and Peoria was once represented in Congress by a founder of that party, Abraham Lincoln. Illinois 18 is currently represented in by Aaron Schock, a Republican. Schock’s predecessor was Ray Lahood, now President Obama’s Secretary of Transportation.

    Before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, Schock was a State Representative fro an inner city district in Peoria, A Republican neglected in a Democratic district, so at the time, Schock clearly had some cross over appeal.

    Then he ran for Congress and took the standard GOP neocon positions in the 2008 primary. One of his first votes in the House was on the Ledbetter Act for pay equity. Schock voted against the bill along with all but three House Republicans.

    Schock also voted against the House version of the current stimulus bill. Again, that bill has been reported out of conference. It is going to pass unless a giant meteor strikes the earth and we all join the dinosaurs. Will Representative Schock continue to vote the way John Boehner and Rush Limbaugh tell him to, or will vote aye and join Jim Owen, Ray Lahood and the thousands of his constituents who are desperate to get back to work? Would it help if he got a call from from fellow Illinoisan, President Barack Obama?

    Written by slothropia

    February 11th, 2009 at 11:33 pm