I recall the town hall meetings during the healthcare debate when Democrats were confronted by angry Tea Party/Republican members. The Democrats knew how angry some of their constituents were and made a choice to face them and explain Healthcare reform.
It wasn’t pretty for many reasons one of which was the demagoguery on the right by the likes of Fox News, conservative radio, and the GOP representatives themselves. Since the Affordable Healthcare Act has passed, it was proven that they were spreading complete untruths.
Now I take you to this year after the Paul Ryan privatize-Medicare plan passed the House creating an uproar for people across the political spectrum. Instead of going home over the Easter break and in August over the summer break and holding open town halls, they chose to only host town halls for those willing to pay to attend or in some cases not holding them at all. I call that the epitome of hubris…cowardice.
Here is an example of their reasoning behind making the choice to not confront their constituents about their vote.
Lou Barletta (R-PA), a freshman Tea Party rep, who was one of the several Republicans who refused to hold free open town hall meetings, held a town hall meeting in Hazleton yesterday and ended up facing the very angry constituents he tried to avoid. The Standard Speaker reports that protesters grilled Barletta on everything from jobs to Social Security. They reported:
Emotions ran high during Barletta’s fifth stop on his “Home to House” town hall tour at Hazleton City Hall, with a handful of attendees who packed Council Chambers questioning the congressman’s voting record on free trade, health care and jobs. “You’re not doing your job, Mr. Lou,” said Stroudsburg resident Jennie Schaefer. “Stop treating people like we’re the dogs waiting under the table for some scraps.”
Marie Diamond of ThinkProgress summarized the town hall:
Schaefer was essentially asking Barletta to support policies that would help average Americans instead of consistently siding with corporations. Another constituent kept yelling “that’s a lie” when Barletta tried to justify his position on jobs and the economy. Allentown resident Jody Weidrich asked whether the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare would increase if Barletta had his way. He replied that he supported the Paul Ryan budget, which would drastically cut entitlement services.
Roxanne Pauline, a coordinator with the Northeastern Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation, called on Barletta to “tax the rich.” Barletta responded that he didn’t think that approach would improve America’s financial standing.
At a town hall meeting in April, Barletta literally laughed at constituents who questioned his vote to maintain billions of dollars in subsidies for Big Oil. Another constituent told him, “You’re our congressman, don’t laugh at us!” At another event he was rebuked by a 64-year-old woman who wanted to know why he backed “a plan that will destroy Medicare.” The congressman’s office brushed aside the complaint and tried to smear the woman.