Town Hall Turmoil Continues for the GOP

It’s Been a Long, Hot August for the GOP

Republican members of Congress have tried a few tricks to avoid facing their constituents this summer: some held only “pay-per-view” town halls, one put out a “watch list” of local activists, others confiscated cameras from town hall attendees, and many simply refused to hold town hall meetings at all.

Those who did hold town halls, however, heard a few messages loud and clear.  Here’s a rundown of the top messages constituents delivered this August.

  • Where Are the Jobs?!

With the unemployment rate hovering around 9 percent and the House GOP threatening to kill, rather than create, millions of jobs, constituents were not shy about voicing their anger.

Check out this clip from a town hall held by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee and a member of the super committee, during which his constituents broke out in a chant demanding jobs after one constituent also demanded that the wealthy be made to pay more in taxes:

Some voters, including those in the district of Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL), challenged Republicans to provide evidence that tax cuts for the wealthy create jobs, something that proved difficult since the Bush tax cuts ushered in the worst period of job creation since World War II:

  • Don’t Cut Medicare and Social Security

Anger wasn’t limited to blue states or swing districts. Sen. John Thune (R), who represents deep red South Dakota, said the top message he received from his constituents was “don’t cut my Medicare and Social Security.”

Just yesterday, a constituent received applause and cheers from the audience after asking Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to raise the payroll tax cap in order to preserve Social Security:

  • Make the Wealthy Pay Their Fair Share in Taxes

As in previous recesses, one of the most common demands was that the wealthy be asked to pay their fair share in taxes. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE), for example, heard an earful from his constituents on this issue:

Many of the loudest voices and waving fingers urged Johanns to include tax increases — particularly applied to the wealthiest Americans — as part of the solution to debt reduction.


“The wealthy just hoard the cash.”

“The old tax rates worked well for the economy under Clinton.”

“Quit listening to the scare tactics, all the crap in the media.”

Jennifer Wendelin, who waited to be recognized by Johanns before voicing her opinion, said additional revenue has to be part of the debt reduction solution along with spending cuts.

“Big corporations and the rich have to pay their fair share,” she said after the meeting had concluded.  “If we have to bite the bullet, they do, too.

“We can’t be forced to shoulder the entire burden,” she said.

Many others heard the same message, including Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA):

And Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL):

  • Pledge Allegiance to the Constitution, Not Grover Norquist

Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist and his infamous anti-tax pledge, which enjoys almost universal adherence among congressional Republicans, have gained increasing notoriety in recent months.  A sentiment echoed across the country, from North Dakota to California, is that representatives need to represent the views of their constituents, who want everyone including the wealthy and Big Oil to pay their fair share, not the views of Grover Norquist, a Washington, DC-based corporate lobbyist.

Check out this clip from a town hall held by Rep. Dan Lungren:

In One Sentence: Republicans can’t hide from the fact that Americans from coast to coast are demanding jobs, that the wealthy pay their fair share, and that we need to protect Medicare and Social Security instead of pledging to protect giveaways and handouts to corporations and others who don’t need them.

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Advocacy Team