Congressman Charlie Bass had a town hall meeting Tuesday night in Jefferson. I was there for the fun.
Charlie began by telling us he'd been worried that people would be fearful of coming to town hall meetings after the shooting of Gabrielle Gifford. He isn't afraid, and he's sure we're safe, but just in case, the sheriff is in the back of the hall. Seeing as how everyone else knows it's not open season on Republicans, no one seemed concerned.
He wanted to address the issues of the prison in Berlin and the Northern Pass Project right away. Charlie wanted us to know that the poor Congress started out without a budget or any appropriations bills, which means there's no money for the prison. He assures us that "the delegation as a whole will be coming up with funds for the prison, but it won't be easy." The word EARMARKS was not uttered all evening. As for Northern Pass, Charlie says it won't be built the way it is planned right now.
The Fox entertainment viewers started right in. A man down front wanted to know, "Why do Americans have to import energy from a foreign country?" Another: "Why did we give $2 billion to Brazil for offshore drilling, but we can't get money here?"
Charlie liked them. He was feeling perky. On a roll. Then along came the guy with the tan sweater, who gave the long term history of our military involvement in the middle east, including our tendency to arm groups we later fight wars against. He referred to our involvement in Libya as a another quagmire, and asked what we could do in this country with all the money we're spending every week on wars in other countries.
sidebar: in 2006, I heard Bass speak at a Rotary Club luncheon in Littleton, shortly before the election. The Rotary Club isn't exactly a liberal hotbed. In his speech, Bass stated that Saddam had ties to al Queda - a falsehood that had been totally debunked by then. Even the Republicans groaned.
Bass told us tonight, in 2011, that Bush had approval from Congress to invade Iraq, and "based upon the information, we were justified in our campaign in Iraq." Really Charlie? Srsly?
Apparently it's chic in GOP circles to say Afghanistan is bad, so he did. Libya, he's opposed to, primarily, it seems because "their oil benefits Europe" and of course because he's opposed to all things Obama.
Someone asked, "where does the money for the war in Libya come from?" Charlie explained emergency military appropriations and then said, "You know what happens if you vote against the troops." Not that he ever tried. Bass voted for every bloated Bush budget, and every military appropriations bill. He voted to put these wars on the credit card, and now, he arises from the sewer, trying to pretend that he isn't covered with feces. Luckily for him, his supporters have the attention span of a gnat, and the media isn't interested in doing its job.
A man sitting in front, stood and gave a little speech about deficit and wondered, "how are any of our kids going to have a life if we don't get this deficit under control?" The Bassmaster donned his superhero cape and told us earnestly that he ran for office again, "because I knew if I didn't do something about this, I couldn't live with myself.' Followed by, "We're going to have to make tough decisions if we're going to preserve America." This generated some groaning, and some "oh, gimme a break" type comments from the other half of the crowd.
A tall guy pointed out, "We need to increase revenue. We've had 10 years of Bush tax cuts, and throughout the election lots of talk about jobs, jobs, jobs - and now no one talks about jobs any more. We need jobs. Cuts alone are not going to balance the budget."
Bass: I don't support increasing taxes. Our corporate taxes are too high. Spending at the federal level has increased dramatically. (Srsly, Charlie? ) Wealthy people don't just stuff it in a mattress, they invest in business and that creates jobs. (People were openly mocking him at this point.) Another guy brought up income disparity. A blond woman said, "If we tax the rich they will leave." A woman from Lancaster told Bass, "I'm tired of hearing this twaddle from you," and laid down the facts about the deficit Obama inherited. A guy yelled, "Corporations don't pay taxes, people do" - they get the tax bill and pass the cost on to us. He further pointed out "We need to make things in this country. We need increased production and we need to export more." Cheers from the crowd.
The blonde woman's husband informed us that HE'S not jealous of the rich, like we are. HE doesn't want this country to be CUBA, like we do. "China can wipe us out by dumping our debt."
Bass was starting to stutter. He complained about the liberal tactic of class warfare, and defended those wealthy folks who pay the majority of the taxes in Murka. Not that he knows firsthand, mind you....he's not one of them.
Yes indeedy - Charlie Bass, multimillionaire (worth between $2.5 and $8 million), had the absolute mendacity to tell a room full of people in Jefferson NH that he isn't wealthy.
Reporter Edith Tucker, from the Coos County Democrat, a woman who doesn't ask Republicans hard questions, expressed her fear that increasing gas prices will affect tourism this summer, and Bass got cranky with her. The gas prices are because of "Instability in the world." (certainly not because of Wall St. speculators) . "The Congress can't wave a magic wand and lower gas prices," he told Ms. Tucker.
Things went further downhill from there. He stuttered more, and became increasingly peevish. This reception was clearly not what he was expecting.
One more thing: Rep. Gene Chandler was there, in his capacity as Bass factotum, a position he is undoubtedly paid for. (Eh tu Mirski?) His car has a plate reading "Speaker Pro Tempore" which has to be among the most pathetic things I've seen.
cross-posted at Blue Hampshire