By Doug Porter
Persistence pays, I think the woman said. Two previously shy Congressmen have now scheduled forums where constituents will (maybe) have the opportunity to share their thoughts on the destruction of guardrails along the road towards Making America Great Again.
GOP Representative Darrell Issa made it official yesterday, pulling permits for a Saturday morning forum at Junior Seau Recreation Center in Oceanside. One hour sessions are scheduled for 8:30 & 10am, with reservations for residents of District 49 being accepted at Issa’s website starting at noon on Thursday.
UPDATE: Issa’s website lied. Reservations are being taken via: Event Bright.
Rep. Duncan Hunter’s town hall, announced on February 24, is also scheduled for Saturday, March 11. It is being held at the Ramona Mainstage, a venue best known as home for the local Tea Party affiliate. Doors are scheduled to open at 9:15; the Congressman will answer question cards collected from the audience in advance starting at 10am.
Activists with Indivisible and other groups have rallied outside their congressmen’s offices for weeks now, demanding answers on health care, immigration, ethics, and other issues. On Tuesday, more than 400 people rallied outside Issa’s Vista office, asking for answers on the congressman’s position on the Trumpcare proposal. Smaller rallies were held the same day at Hunter’s Temecula and El Cajon offices.
Rallies will be held in both Ramona (Collier Park) and Oceanside (TBA) on Saturday concurrent with the town hall events, since it’s considered unlikely that more than a fraction of those wishing to attend will be admitted. Duncan’s town hall will be live-streamed at RamonaTownRadio.com; Issa’s will be broadcast on his Facebook page.
Tea Party in Ramona
Ken Stone at the Times of San Diego has posted a lengthy article with lots of background about the Duncan Hunter event.
Progressive groups cheered Harrison’s Feb. 24 email announcing the event, which they contend was a direct result of “Resist Trump Tuesday” rallies outside and meetings inside Hunter offices in El Cajon. Those led to phone calls, newspaper letters, social media demands and a state Route 67 overpass demonstration Feb. 23. (Pressure also came from a change.org petition by Brina Bujkovsky of San Marcos with 954 supporters.)
Harrison, the Hunter aide, says a February Town Hall, during the traditional “district work period,” was never in the cards.
“His schedule was already booked — very far in advance,” Harrison said Wednesday in a phone interview.
Alternative Facts in Vista
Congressman Issa has been rather slippery about staging a town hall this year. A January 30 telephone event was denounced by activists saying questions at previous call-ins were being screened for political favorability.
From the Escondido Grapevine:
However, posting on social media, some constituents questioned the efficacy of a telephone town hall meeting.
“From previous experience” Vista resident Joe Dusel said, “it seems that they select the questioners ahead of time, and screen for those that are on their side.
“I found it pretty aggravating,” Dusel said. “The time I was on many of the callers were bashing President Obama. This time it will likely be people loving on Trump. I am not hopeful. It would be much better if it were an actual town hall meeting.”
Issa also claimed to be unable to afford an event (he’s the wealthiest man in congress!) because a 2009 town hall resulted in $50,000 invoice for security services provided by the San Diego Sheriff’s office.
Activist Jackson Smith got curious about this claim and emailed the County Sheriff’s office. The claim by Issa was–surprise, suprise!–false. An initial estimate of $19,826.82 was later revised downward to $6,000.
Jackson called Issa’s Vista office to ask questions following recept of the Sheriff Dept letter. A woman named Linda hung up on him.
In February, frustrated activists, joined by labor and healthcare groups, staged an “Emergency Town Hall” at the Jim Porter Recreation Center in Vista. An estimated 2000 people showed up, most of whom stayed outside since the hall only held 350 people.
A Go Fund Me effort raised $6000 for a full page ad in the Union-Tribune inviting Issa to appear at the event. Needless to say, the congressman was otherwise occupied.
The North County Republican did, however, make an appearance outside his offices earlier in the day, having summoned a small group of Tea Party supporters, complete with professional public address system to bolster his courage.
From the Escondido Grapevine:
This was the fourth week in a row an Indivisible North County group showed up at the office to protest Issa’s position on affordable health care, lack of access to constituents and several other issues.
They probably didn’t expect the man himself to emerge and engage, but he did, along with a crowd of Issa supporters apparently alerted by his office as a counterbalance.
It’s not the first time Issa has employed this tactic. Previously, he held several phone-in conferences with constituents during which his staff front-loaded Issa supporters with cheeseball questions.
“Coincidence that his supporters are there?” Deena Wagemann posted on Facebook. “Maybe. Maybe not.”
Trumpcare Or Else
Meanwhile, Republicans in the House of Representatives are playing hurry-up with the Trumpcare plan for making the rich richer and making healthcare unaffordable for everybody else.
The Republican plan backed by President Donald Trump to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system cleared its first hurdle on Thursday, but its chances for passage in Congress looked uncertain with Democrats, conservatives and industry groups opposed.
The first of two House of Representatives committees considering the legislation that would undo much of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, approved it before dawn after 18 hours of work on a party-line vote, with Democrats unified against it.
After the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee vote, the House Energy and Commerce Committee continued its marathon work lasting more than 24 straight hours, with Republicans swatting away Democratic amendments as emotions ran high.
(Note: Energy & Commerce voted out the bill as I was writing this.)
Trumpcare is a poor excuse for reform, and breaks many of the promises made by the Republican candidate during the fall campaign.
From Think Progress:
The bill, in its current draft, does not do the things Trump promised. While it would provide a windfall for the insurance companies Trump once derided — including allowing a 30 percent surcharge for anyone who has had their coverage lapse and giving a tax credit to any insurance company that overpays its CEO — it could strip coverage from millions of Americans and provide far less help to poorer Americans seeking to buy insurance.
The bill would benefit richer Americans at the expense of the poor. With millions more uninsured, the savings to the government might be more short term than long, as the government will eventually have to pay some of the cost of their lack of care. And while younger people who are healthy might pay less, older people would likely have more expensive plans under this legislation.
While the proposed cuts will mean higher out-of-pocket costs for those who benefit from Obamacare’s subsidies, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has proposed that they could make up some of the difference by not buying iPhones.
Those pesky details in the Trumpcare legislation are of no concern for the President, who indicated to conservatives on Wednesday he’d facilitate destruction of the Affordable Care Act if his package failed to pass congress, and try to pin the blame on Democrats.
If you exclude CATO, Heritage Foundation, Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, AFP, AARP, hospital groups & multiple GOP lawmakers, it’s gorgeous! https://t.co/vEbUGwh8L1
— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) March 9, 2017
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
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