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Archive for August, 2011

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