AL-05 Congressman Mo Brooks held a “tele-townhall” meeting last night, & it was remarkable in that the questions were far more disturbing (for the most part) than Rep. Brooks' answers. Either these people really represent the GOP core constituency in this district or Brooks' call screener decided to liven things up a bit.
The first caller was pretty garden-variety. He wanted to know when the country is going to abolish the IRS & replace it with a flat tax.
But the second question from a woman in Decatur really kicked off the crazy. This is an exact quote:
“I'm going to only say the things you really don't want to hear and I'm going to apologize for that, sir. I'm very concerned: I'm the mother of two children and I don't like the way our country's going at all. This is the more corrupt government we've had, and I've been around even in the Nixon years – I'm pretty old. And this is a corrupt government; it's corrupt through and through, and I'd like to know why we are not impeaching the President and why we haven't fired people. If this kind of thing happened in corporate America, none of us would have our jobs. And I think the lies we're getting coming out of Washington DC are despicable. And I'm really concerned with how corrupt IRS is and that they're going to have access to more information with regards to our medical. I don't see that as ever a viable solution to providing medical coverage to the people in the United States – the people who actually need it. And I think it should be repealed immediately and I don't understand for the life of me why people are not getting behind it and why their voices are not being heard. And also, by the way, I'm being “sequestrated” (sic) like everyone else, so I've lost a bunch of money in my paycheck and I'm pretty unhappy.”
Brooks noted that she had a lot of issues and asked which he should address first.
“The corruption. Why are we not impeaching this President?”
Rep. Brooks actually did well with that, noting the Constitution's “high bar” for impeachment.
“While certainly, there are people who appear to have committed crimes in the various things we've talked about, there is insufficient evidence – perhaps no evidence – that Barack Obama has committed a high crime or misdemeanor, and until there is evidence, there is no legal basis for his impeachment. We cannot remove him from office just because we disagree with his politics or because we think that he's not competent in performing his duties. Those are not grounds. It has to be “high crime or misdemeanor” and that is the only ground for impeachment. For example, with Richard Nixon, he was guilty of obstruction of justice – which was a felony. With Bill Clinton, he was guilty of perjury – which was a felony, but even then, the Senate would not convict.
In this instance, if someone has admissible evidence that the President has committed a high crime or misdemeanor, I encourage them to come forward, but until then…. Now, while he's not doing what I wish he'd do, I don't know of any evidence that supports impeachment. At least not now. I share your frustration, but it's what the American people elected.”
But don't get too warm & fuzzy with Rep. Brooks yet. Later in the question, he offered this tidbit:
“The defense civilian employees have been targeted for political reasons – not for policy reasons. There is nothing in the Budget Control Act or the sequestration law that requires the President of the United States to furlough national defense employees. There are a lot of employees in a lot of federal departments that are suffering no furloughs. Not at NASA and not at the new “Obamacare bureaucracy.” National defense was targeted for a variety of reasons, in my judgment.”
um…. the purpose of sequestration was to take flexibility OUT of the hands of the various government departments and mandate across-the-board cuts. Surprise, but salaries are a big expense.
Later, during a conversation about immigration, Rep. Brooks noted his preference for “people who can bring wealth with them.” Ok then… so rich foreigners are fine, but not those pesky “huddled masses.” Later, Brooks was silent as a caller railed about illegal immigrants getting “welfare, social security, and government benefits” – none of which is actually happening.
Half an hour in, there was this question from a man in Hartselle:
“I have a couple of comments and then I have a question.
“Number one, I'm a 64 year old man… I served in the military; I served in Vietnam, and it really ticks me off that he is the President of the United States and has never served in the military. But that goes back to Bill Clinton; he didn't either. But it really gets me when I see him walk off that helicopter and gives one of these “50-cent” salutes to a Marine Corps man who salutes him back. I don't know why, but he's never served in the military and that's one thing that gets me.
I think that to be the President of the United States, you should serve in the military.
You made the statement a while ago that Obama was elected by a 51% majority of people in the United States and you know as well as I do that the 51% that elected him was not the 51% that works. He was elected by the people who don't work, but the people who do work are having to pay for it now.
My question is: I work for a company called Siemens and when 2014 comes in, this Obamacare, how will this affect us?”
Rep. Brooks wisely decided not to touch the 51% comment – although a subsequent caller took issue with it: “I'm on Social Security & disability and it's no fault of mine. I have a terminal brain disease and that guy who said us that don't work put Obama in… I didn't put him in and that kind of comment really strikes home.”
But Brooks but did note that he looks forward to the day that no American soldier has to risk his/her life in a war. But, as with impeachment, it was a couple of steps backward for each step forward.
The Obamacare question gave Rep. Brooks the opportunity to return to the issue of “death panels” as he alleged that the “government will dictate whether you'll live or die. Treatments will be dictated by the government rather than by your doctor like it is now.”
Oh really? Because under our current health insurance system, our treatments are dictated by for-profit insurance companies who reward employees who deny coverage for treatments doctors have prescribed. Those companies are accountable only to their shareholders. In my opinion, having government step in – and be accountable to voters – is a step up.
Furthermore, this current “death panel” discussion about the young girl in Pennsylvania waiting on a lung transplant misses the real issues: the shortage of organs available for transplant the tremendous costs faced by patients in their families.
Who doesn't want this child to get a transplant? But the reality is that if she moves up the list, another patient moves down. We need more people willing to donate their organs and they need to make their wishes clear to family members and put them in writing. Learn more about organ donation here!
Furthermore, uninsured patients donate organs, but rarely receive transplants. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer briefly suspended state funding for transplants for Medicaid patients but was forced by public outcry to reinstate it. That sounds like much more of a “death panel” than national organ donation guidelines.
I guess the whole thing could have been worse, but little about it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling either my Congressman or some of my fellow citizens.