Republican congressmen on recess are catching all kinds of heck back home for having supported Paul Ryan’s government-shrinking budget plan. Folks want to know, for instance, how exactly they’re supposed to get health coverage in old age without Medicare, which Ryan’s plan basically wipes out. And why the “transformational” budget is so big on tax cuts for the rich — and sacrifice for everyone else. It’s all made for some pretty heated town hall meetings and enjoyable squirming by pols who clearly didn’t see this coming. Below, five clips of town hall bedlam, GOP-style.
Paul Ryan (WI): The man who started it all spoke at a number of town hall meetings in his district. At one, in Milton, a constituent asked why “we are fighting to not let the tax breaks for the wealthy expire… and why we’re fighting to not raise the Social Security cap from $87,000.” Ryan replied, “We do tax the top,” and the audience started booing him. [ThinkProgress]
Pat Meehan (PA): One town hall attendee asked Meehan, “Did you not vote for Paul Ryan’s bill?… If you voted to abolish Medicare, how will you explain that to people who are in their fifties who are out of work, that they will have not the Medicare that I have?” The congressman defended himself by explaining that he voted for Ryan’s plan as a “blueprint … a sense of what we’d like to do, a direction that we’d like to go in.” [The Hill]
Lou Barletta (PA): “As a senior,” asked one Scranton constituent, “did I not pay for these Medicare and Social Security benefits? Didn’t I give Washington my dollars so that as a senior I could live on them?” Barletta answered, “Yes, and it is going to be there. It’s not being touched for any of the senior citizens now, but for my daughter—” The man interrupted him, saying that “it should be there for her as well.” [Politico]
Daniel Webster (FL): The congressman caught flack from constituents about the Republican budget for nearly an hour, in a scene the Orlando Sentinel described as “bedlam.” ThinkProgress notes that on numerous occasions, Webster “simply declined” to answer questions.
Sean Duffy (WI): Things got out of hand when a constituent pointed out that Ryan’s budget is based on dodgy statistics from a right-wing think tank. “I know what chart you used, it came from the Heritage Foundation, from a man named William W. Beach, he’s lying. It’s a fraud. […] A Nobel Prize-winning economist [Paul Krugman] labeled it a fraud!” A rattled Duffy ended up saying, “Let me tell you what. When you have your town hall you can stand up and give your presentation.”