Bob Latta’s Disappointing Tele-Town Hall

n1lattaprotest-jpgWith all of the focus on the Senate Health Care bill, Rep. Bob Latta has been flying under the radar for a while. The looming recess may have inspired the surprise tele-town hall–perhaps Rep. Latta thinks that because he held this event, he will not be expected to hold any face to face public events where constituents can ask him questions.

Nope: we’d still like to interact with you face to face, Bob, because it’s a more direct and honest way to communicate, where you cannot screen questions and cut off those asking to prevent followup.

What did Bob Latta talk about with constituents on Wednesday, 6/28? Read on!

Self-Driving Cars

Rep. Latta spent a significant amount of time talking about self-driving cars. That may seem odd, given the many challenges facing our country, from the pending GOP health care legislation, to Russian interference in our 2016 election, to dangers in the Middle East and from North Korea. But, Bob is the chair of a sub-committee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection and part of the sub-committee on Communications and Technology, so he has been spending some time testing out smart cars, and spoke about this experience.

One caller asked about the impact of this technology on jobs, particularly the jobs that would be lost (cab drivers, truck drivers, etc.). Rep. Latta’s response was that these vehicles wouldn’t be operating, particularly in our area (where we have snow and more difficult driving conditions) for at least 30 years. And that maybe Ohio could produce parts for these cars. And that Ohio already is the largest maker of car parts in the U.S.

Health Care

But what was on most callers’ minds was health care. The majority of the questions were on this topic (with Lake Erie/environmental health coming in second: in short–Latta supports the lake, and funding for it, but would not address whether he believes climate change is caused by humans when directly asked. He lived on a farm, though.)

The majority of callers asking about health care expressed concerns:

  • why haven’t Republicans held hearings with expert testimony?
  • Why repeal the ACA instead of fix it?
  • Why the rush–what would be so bad about taking time to study the issue?

Unfortunately, Rep. Latta did not directly answer any of these questions. Instead, he spent a lot of time talking about what is wrong with the system now. And, as has been typical of Republicans more generally, without acknowledging the things that Republicans and the HHS under the current administration have done to sabotage the system.

Rep. Latta’s rambling answers sometimes included nonsense: like his example of a “70 year old man” who might not want a policy “that includes maternity care.” Of course, unless there’s something terrible Republicans are not telling us, that 70 year old would be on Medicare, not the exchanges. And, the underlying premise that pregnancy and pre-natal care is not men’s problem! is one of the worst underlying misconceptions in the Republican discussion about healthcare.

At one point Latta explained that only 7% of people are on the ACA exchanges, but then at other times decried the loss of insurers in Ohio: you can’t have it both ways. Either this is a big problem or it’s not, but in any event, no solution to this problem that would result from the Republican legislation was ever explained; only the problem itself was emphasized, and that may be because the GOP bills do not solve any of the problems that Republicans complain about.

Voters hoping to get a clear idea of what Republicans are hoping to accomplish with their health care legislation were sorely disappointed by the Congressman’s tele-town hall.

Contact Bob Latta

Let Bob Latta know what you think of his way of getting input from voters: a surprise call for those who have asked to be on the list (many voters don’t even know they can be on the list or that these calls happen). No way to dial in if you cannot take the call when it starts but want to participate later. No way to know how questions are being chosen, and little opportunity for follow up.

The Toledo Blade was critical of Latta’s tele-town hall practices: “faceless telephone conference calls are not representation” — agreed! But nothing has changed, and we’re facing another recess without access to our representative.

Let Bob Latta know what you think!