When Silence isn’t Golden
Congress is enjoying a two week recess, and it’s a time when representatives should be interacting with their constituents. Yet many Republican members of congress, including Rob Portman and Bob Latta have scheduled no public events where voters can engage them in conversations about past votes or upcoming policies.
Contact Rob and Bob and tell them you’d like to talk to them at a town hall.
In the meantime, here are a few things they are NOT speaking out about:
1. Extreme Immigration Enforcement
On April 11, Attorney General Jefferson Sessions declared that in the new “age of Trump” our southern borderland is now a battlefield, a “sliver of land, where we first take our stand against this filth” — the “filth” being criminals who are envisioned as flooding over the borders.
This dire rhetoric about all these violent felons belies the reality of illegal immigration —
- there is very little emphasis by Republicans on companies who hire these workers and build their profit models on exploitation of cheap labor forces who are not protected by US citizenship. In fact, that’s not even mentioned in the party platform statement about “immigration and the rule of law.”
- for several years now, more immigrants have been crossing the Mexico border going South than coming North.
- the Trump administration plan, enthusiastically described by Sessions, no longer prioritizes violent felons as in the Obama era, but targets those guilty of any crime, including overstaying a visa or illegal entry.
Illegal is illegal, some argue. Perhaps this is fair, but a majority of Americans would rather Congress work on developing a path to citizenship for those who are here, and have been here, building families and being productive members of our communities.
It’d be nice to know if Rob and Bob are on board with the Trump administration’s incendiary rhetoric scapegoating immigrants or if they are willing to work on a real solution to this problem.
2. Cynical Sabotage of American’s Healthcare
On April 12, the President told the Wall Street Journal about his newest strategy for bringing Democrats to the negotiating table on health care: withhold funds for health care subsidies that low and middle income families rely on. The point of this move?
“Obamacare is dead next month if it doesn’t get that money.”
“What I think should happen and will happen is the Democrats will start calling me and negotiating.”
Paul Krugman’s editorial in the New York Times explains well why this strategy will fail, and also how it is incredibly cruel and oblivious to the needs of ordinary Americans.
Are our representatives, Portman and Latta, content to allow this mean spirited politicking? Is this really better than dropping the idea of repeal and working with colleagues across the aisle to fix healthcare?
3. Hard Power = Tough Luck
About a month ago, the administration released it’s budget blueprint. Mick Mulvaney described this as a “hard power budget” that “turns [Trump’s] words and policies into numbers.” He imagines a hypothetical coal miner in West Virginia and single mother in Detroit and asserts that he cannot ask these people to pay for things like Meals on Wheels, after school programs, Sesame Street, and scientific research but that it is perfectly reasonable to ask these taxpayers to support a border wall and a bunch of new tanks and missiles for what is already the worlds largest military force.
But, notably, no one asked real voters if this budget actually reflected their priorities. Fortunately, the actual budget will be determined by Congress.
Will Rob and Bob find out from their constituents whether this budget works for us? It seems like, over this recess, they are missing a golden opportunity to do so.
*Note: Sen. Portman did speak out about protecting funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.