At noon a dozen constituents stopped by Senator Claire McCaskill’s (D) Kansas City office (in Westport) to share their concerns about Trumpcare with the senator’s staff.
“Dissent is patriotic” – gathering in front of Senator Claire McCaskill’s Kansas City office.
The group was organized by Indivisible KC. At noon they were ushered into a conference room with Brook Balantine, Senator Mccaskill’s Deputy Regonal Director, who took notes and answered questions. The meeting lasted an hour.
Brook Balantine, Deputy Regional Director for Senator Claire McCaskill (D).
Individuals offered their personal health care stories and shared their concerns about Trumpcare and the Trumpcare iteration still working its way secretly through the republican controlled U.S. Senate.
They told Senator McCaskill’s staff that they expect and trust that she will actively oppose Trumpcare and its devastating impact on the health care and health care access for millions of Americans.
You there’s just not enough civility in our political discourse these days, eh?
How can anyone tell when republican office holders can’t be bothered to publicly engage with any of their constituents who are interested in doing so?
There was this curious Twitter post on Tuesday from Representative Vicky Hartzler (r):
Rep. Vicky Hartzler @RepHartzler
Thank you @CoMoProgress for meeting w/ me today. Was productive time hearing your concerns & discussing solutions. I appreciate your ideas. 4:45 PM – 9 May 2017
On reading this we thought, my goodness, did we miss the announcement of an open public town hall in the district? Have we all been too harsh on Representative Hartzler (r) for not scheduling any open public meetings or town halls during all those congressional breaks? Nah.
Yesterday we heard a little more of the story.
We were told that the meeting was held with six individuals, not the entire group. Representative Hartzler (r) and/or her staff also dictated no pictures and no audio of the meeting. The small group agreed – they did attend the meeting, right? Representative Hartzler and two members of her staff attended the meeting. Think about that for a minute.
The whole point of being a representative is to engage with any of your constituents who wish to do so, not filter who can or cannot participate. More so, groups which are ostensibly promoting transparency and access for all individuals who care to participate apparently acquiescing to such restrictive ground rules for a meeting are not serving their purpose.
They got rolled. There’s no record (yet) of what transpired. Vicky Hartzler got a reelection advertisement moment. For nothing.
Leave it to newbie activist progressives to bring a toy [brand name avoided] foam bat to a gang fight. Until they realize the latter is the reality of our current political environment they’ll continue to get used.
Republicans know the scene well: angry constituents flood local town halls, upset over health care and other congressional issues.
It’s that energy that exploded eight years ago, birthing the Tea Party movement and helping the GOP take back Congress in the 2010 election. But now, they’re finding themselves on the receiving end instead of the giving end.
This afternoon Governor Eric Greitens (r) solicited constituent questions on Facebook. There were a lot.
We’re here in Jeff City to fight for you. That means listening to the people and answering your questions about what’s going on in your government.
This afternoon at 3:30, we’re going to take a few minutes and do a Facebook Live Q&A. If you have any questions about what we’re doing to take Missouri in a new direction, I’d love to answer them. Let us know in the comments section what you want to talk about, and join us at 3:30.
A few of the questions:
How will you fully fund education?
Who funded your inauguration parties?
Who donated the $1,900,000 to your campaign that you have not disclosed and why have you refused to say so far?
Missourians don’t want right to work. Why did you listen to your millionaire and billionaire backers and force it on us? Why don’t you listen to Missourians who don’t want it?
What is being done about the fact that our driver’s licenses will not be acceptable ID at airports & federal buildings in 2018? Missouri has had quite a while to fix this & has done nothing.
I would like to know why you’re trying to repeal prevailing wage which will put Missouri contractors and small businesses out of business? It allows out of town outfits to come in with illegal and unskilled labor which allows them to low ball work. Thus it then takes much needed revenue away from Missourians. Please explain real points besides it helps your billionaires who bought your way and use you as a puppet. Thanks
What is your idea of a decent working wage Eric Greitens? How do you figure people are forced to join unions? Who told you there is “union bosses”? I noticed you didn’t say anything about health care benefits or guaranteed pensions for retires, do you think or feel that companies will give those benefits to their employees?
I would like to know how you are going to protect and expand higher education in the state. Missouri used to be a leader in higher education and now lags badly behind. Not just short changing students, but we can no longer attract the best of the best in staff, faculty and research because of low pay scales and tiny to non-existent pay raises. Continuing to butcher funding to higher education hurts the entire state. Tuition hikes mean that fewer students can attend Missouri schools, locating elsewhere for their education then staying there. Critical infrastructure needs at MU have been ignored for decades due to poor funding.[….]
How about you discuss the large donations by David Humphreys to your “campaign” after you were elected…what is he buying?
I would like to know why you are talking about closing the Group Homes for the disabled kids? I have a son that has lived in one for 30 years, his dream when he graduated was to be able to live on his own just like everyone else. This would destroy him if he had to leave. I believe there are other area’s that can be cut besides taking the funds away from our disabled. They try to work and pay taxes in as well. There has to be a better solution.
If your goal is to protect k-12 classroom funding, then why did you cut transportation funding? This puts school districts in the position of having to cannabilize money from their budgets to cover that reduction. What good is a funded classroom if you can’t get the kids to the classroom?
Please discuss the intimidation tactics you used on members of the Senate regarding the salary vote and why after the vote you continued cyber-bullying the legislators via Twitter. You really don’t want to be like the Trumpster Fire in DC do you?
I’d like to hear why you won’t disclose the source of your inaugural donations? Don’t we have a right to know whom you’re really working for? Is it more Goguen money? Because we all know how much you like his dirty million(s)!
We know that thousands of low-income Missourians rely on Planned Parenthood health centers for vital preventive care like pelvic exams, & STI testing & treatment, along with contraceptive and safe abortion services. Will you work to ensure that low-income Missourians can continue to receive high-quality care at the provider of their choice, including Planned Parenthood?
What are you going to do to ensure that low-income Missourians can continue to access vital preventive health care like birth control, STI testing and treatment, and well woman exams at the provider of their choice, including Planned Parenthood?
How much money did Anheuser-Busch, Boeing, Centene, Enterprise, Express Scripts, Kansas City Power & Light, Kansas City Southern, Monsanto, Pfizer and Wal-Mart donate to your inauguration celebration? With that in mind, can you reassure us that you are representing and serving “our government,” for the people; as opposed to a corporate government, for the highest bidder?
“Our Government”? You mean “Your Government”, where you let the state corporations and big businesses run the state, collect their money, and you do as they say? A true puppet, this is what you get by voting in an “outsider” morons.
When was the last time you made under 50k a year and have to provide heath insurance for your family? Have you ever had to pay for your or your family’s health care? Have you ever worked a blue collar job? Have you ever worked for a minimum wage? Who paid for your collage education?
Gov. Greitens, this is Will Schmitt, state government and politics reporter with the Springfield News-Leader. Can you say why your inaugural committee, which planned the installation of public officials, is acting like a private organization? Also, can you please say whether you plan to meet with Rod Chapel of the Missouri NAACP? Thank you!
This is Summer Ballentine, a reporter from The Associated Press. Gov. Greitens, you proposed a number of cuts in next year’s budget. Why did you propose cutting $52 million from a Missouri Medicaid program providing in-home care to elderly and disabled people too poor to pay for it themselves? Also, do you support legislative proposals to restrict discrimination lawsuits? Thank you.
Mo has the highest rate of toddler shootings in the country. Why do you not support requiring all gun owners to take a gun safety course? Plus, a three day waiting period and background check? There could be exemptions for active duty military and police. Common sense gun laws are helpful not harmful.
If these budget cuts are put in place…..how will we deal with the rising costs of ER visits and hospital stays for the disabled and elderly that lose their in-home services and how will that be effective at balancing our budget if one expense is replaced by another which costs Missouri twice as much?
Many Missouri women rely on Planned Parenthood for basic health services. Access to contraceptives and sex ed reduce abortion rates and poverty. What will you do to help ensure women have access to these services?
Why aren’t you allowing questions from the press? Why are you limiting access to portions of the capital building by the press and Missouri voters? I thought you were the transparent choice?
Hi Gov. Greitens, this is Celeste Bott, I’m a statehouse reporter with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Curious, as others have asked, about your decision to make deep cuts for disabled and senior citizens in the Missouri Medicaid program? Also, do you think your cuts to higher education institutions will make tuition increases inevitable? Have you begun any efforts to tackle violence in cities like St. Louis, a priority you mentioned in your state of the state speech? How about for reducing recidivism? Thanks!
Why don’t you you come to St. Louis and answer questions, town hall style, to all the hard working union families. Explain to them how taking food off their tables and lowering the tax base effectively helps Missouri?
Mexico is the state’s 2nd largest trading partner. What impact do you think President Trump’s call for a 20 percent tariff on imports from Mexico will have on Missouri’s economy?
Why do you need a COO? What is your reason? Will you avoid daily governing and be a figure head? Who makes governor decisions, where is the divisions of responsibility defined?
How do I introduce a bill that forces Missouri to let Missouri residents have the option of paying their taxes? Missouri is part of the Union that is the United States therefore if we’re going to bust the Union I would like to be able to turn the same playing cards back on you and opt out of paying my taxes and still receive all the benefits of those who choose to pay their taxes.
When will you be in Kansas City to meet with voters, not just closed meetings with your supporters? I want you to have a town hall style meeting so we can ask you questions directly, please.
You say you’re prolife, but you have no plans to expand Medicaid in Missouri, saving 300,000 lives. Last year the state also redirected over $4million in federal TANF to so-called “crisis pregnancy centers,” instead of feeding hungry kids. Missouri is the 2nd hungriest state in the country. What are you going to do to help our most vulnerable, with a $456million budget hole?
What are we going to do to fully fund education? How can we expect Missouri’s economy to grow long term without allowing adequate access to education for our people?
Governor Greitens, I would like to know what more you plan to do about millionaires and billionaires buying our politicians and elections? [….]
Last night during the HJR18 debate, Rep. Mike Moon compared sperm to tadpoles. Do you believe sperm and tadpoles are the same thing? Would you outlaw abortion, most forms of birth control, IVF, and stem cell research?
In regards to education also, discussing why you chose to send a letter of support for Betsy DeVos along with 19 other governors, and since you so strongly support her initiative for providing vouchers and school choice, how do you see that affecting rural districts in Missouri that have no school choice?
And so on.
It was sad, maybe a little pathetic, and illustrative of their limited access reading the occasional questions from media/reporters interspersed with those from constituents. Welcome to Eric Greitens’ (r) Missouri.
WASHINGTON—Capping off months of collecting responses from our local community to the question “What would you like to see undone in Washington?” Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) personally presented her “MO-4 Undo List” to President Donald Trump….
Was that all of the responses? Just asking.
A press release from the 4th Congressional District Democratic Committee:
Contact: Loree Voigt, Communications Director
For Immediate Release
4th District Democratic Committee
February 6, 2017
Rep. Vicky Hartzler ‘Undo’ List presented to President Trump
Today 4th District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler reported that she had presented an ‘undo’ list from her constituents to President Donald Trump. Rep. Hartzler is hopeful that by working with President Trump she can ‘undo’ the list of “burdensome policies” in Missouri’s 4th District. Rep. Hartzler claims the quotes from 4th District citizens are representative of the stories and quotes from her constituents in Missouri’s 4th District.
It is very disheartening to read that Rep. Hartzler only included in her ‘undo’ list the stories and quotes matching her ideology. Missouri’s 4th District Democrats have attended most […] of her listening sessions and did not see a single quote or story that was shared with Rep. Hartzler over the last 6 years.
Missouri’s 4th District Democrats:
Do NOT want our healthcare system undone and our healthcare decisions returned to insurance companies
Do NOT want regulations undone so that our air and water supplies are once again polluted by big business interests
Do NOT want Dodd-Frank undone, returning our savings to Wall Street bankers
Do NOT want our public educational systems undone and destroyed by for-profit interests
Do NOT want to work overtime with no compensation
Do NOT want our Social Security privatized and turned over to Wall Street investors, but strengthened by raising the cap.
Rep. Hartzler, you are right in saying there are a lot of hard-working people in Missouri’s 4th District — and you work for ALL of us.
You think all those angry folks worried about their access to health care, the solvency of Social Security, and their present and future access to Medicare we’re now seeing at republican town halls across the country just might show up at town halls in Missouri?
Maybe Representative Hartzler (r) should hold an open public town hall in the district.
Somebody in the 4th Congressional District is unhappy enough with Representative Vicky Hartzler (r) that they affixed a “Recall Vicky” sign to their building along a well traveled highway.
It could be buyer’s remorse. We don’t know.
In Post Oak, Missouri in rural Johnson County along Highway 13 just north of the Henry County line:
Approaching Post Oak, Missouri from the south on Highway 13.
Yep, there it is – “Recall Vicky”.
“Recall Vicky” – Someone took some care to attach the sign to the building. It looks like it’ll be up for a considerable amount of time.
We’ve noted that there haven’t been as many open to the general public town halls in the district with Representative Hartzler (r). We miss them, though we seriously doubt we’re a reason why there are fewer. Maybe it’s all those Benghazi truthers who obsessively respond to Represenative Hartzler’s (r) posts on Twitter.
….The phrase is being used as shorthand by some prominent conservatives for a kind of closed-mindedness in the movement, a development they see as debasing modern conservatism’s proud intellectual history. First used in this context by Julian Sanchez of the libertarian Cato Institute, the phrase “epistemic closure” has been ricocheting among conservative publications and blogs as a high-toned abbreviation for ideological intolerance and misinformation.
Conservative media, Mr. Sanchez wrote [….] referring to outlets like Fox News and National Review and to talk-show stars like Rush Limbaugh, Mark R. Levin and Glenn Beck – have “become worryingly untethered from reality as the impetus to satisfy the demand for red meat overtakes any motivation to report accurately….”
As a result, he complained, many conservatives have developed a distorted sense of priorities and a tendency to engage in fantasy, like the belief that President Obama was not born in the United States or that the health care bill proposed establishing “death panels….”
This afternoon about a dozen people showed up at a Warrensburg meeting room for a constituent “listening post” conducted by a member of Representative Vicky Hartzler’s (r) district staff, Zack Brown. At around 2:00 p.m. Mr. Brown asked people seated around the table and the room if they had any questions. So started our one hour long jeremiad in congressional constituent services.
Zack Brown, of Representative Vicky Hartzler’s (r) district staff, at a constituent “listening post” in Warrensburg on August 7, 2013.
The first item brought up was a concern about prescription drug costs and insurance reimbursement for independent local pharmacies. Other issues included a discussion of corporate bill paying, on-line taxes, the flat tax, a national sales tax, abolishing the IRS, the government shutdown (they were all for it), RINO’s in Congress, Senator John McCain’s (r) recent attempts at bipartisan comity (they were against it), immigration amnesty, Obamacare, and a birth certificate.
At around fifty-one minutes:
[On the oath of office]
Voice 1: But if he’s Kenyan born [crosstalk] does it matter?
Voice 2: With little whispers in between.
Voice 3: Well he had to do it twice, didn’t he?
Voice 4: [laugh] I love whispers.
Voice 5: The oath, the oath is the oath. You know, it’s, it’s right there and it’s, it’s lay, it’s in the Constitution.
Voice 1: If he’s Kenyan born he’s not eligible at all to be president so the oath wouldn’t be valid.
Voice 5: See [crosstalk]…
Zack Brown: You’re going down a very dangerous path right now.
Voice 5: That’s not a danger, it’s, it’s a legitimate path because there is so much of his information that is not available. Everybody else has to make their information available, but not him. Now, the whole thing, and in reality, he should let this information out and be made public. And have it scrutinized because if it’s absolutely correct, as he attests that it is, then it’s done. You know, there is no question. But when he doesn’t therein lies the problem. And if he is not to the letter of the law and the Constitution, if he is not eligible, then Obamacare is gone. Whatever he signed is gone. It’s just not even in question.
Voice 6: His mom’s an American citizen, though, which makes him an American citizen.
Voice 5: Pardon.
Voice 6: His mom’s an American citizen, though, which makes him an American citizen.
Voice 1: But he’s not an American born citizen [crosstalk].
“…Now, the whole thing, and in reality, he should let this information out and be made public…”
Birthers will never be happy. No matter what [pdf].
“…if he is not eligible, then Obamacare is gone…”
That’s a novel strategy for repealing Obamacare.
At around forty-six minutes:
[On Obamacare and universal access cell phones]
Voice 7: I don’t know anybody that wants it [crosstalk], except that woman on the phone [crosstalk], except that woman in Detroit that had a free cell phone. [laughter] She wants it. [crosstalk]
Voice 1: That’s one thing I want to ask you about. The universal charge I pay on my cell, on my cell phone. I have a cell phone. And because my husband and I had different numbers when, before we got married he has his own cell phone. We have a home phone. I’m paying that universal charge on three bills. [crosstalk]
Zack Brown: It was actually [crosstalk]…
Voice 1: So I’m being taxed three times.
Zack Brown: Correct. The, the goal of that initially was to provide nine one one access [crosstalk] to rural areas.
Voice 1: Yeah, I know what the goal was. [crosstalk] Yeah.
Zack Brown: And it’s morphed into giving our pretty nice cell phones and, uh, minutes and text messages for [crosstalk]…
Voice 7: They call it, they call it an Obamaphone. [laughter]
Zack Brown: That’s what they’re calling it, yeah, it sure is. But, uh, so you, you get one of those that kind of sounds like a good idea when it was implemented, you let it go through a couple of different administrations and end up with a monster.
“…The, the goal of that initially was to provide nine one one access to rural areas…”
Not exactly. There wasn’t nine one one service in 1934:
….In 1934, telephone service was considered to be a “natural monopoly,” a service best delivered by one company rather than two or more competitors. The U.S. government allowed AT&T, then the monopoly provider, to operate in a non-competitive environment in most areas of the country in exchange for the federal and state government regulation of price and service quality. In areas that AT&T did not serve, small companies, including cooperatives owned by residents of the local community, provided phone service. The concept of universal service evolved over the decades to mean the development of an infrastructure that provides telephone service to all consumers at a reasonable price. Funding for universal service came from a series of access charges that long distance carriers paid as intercarrier compensation (ICC) to local exchange companies for originating and terminating the long distance calls….
“…The universal charge I pay on my cell, on my cell phone. I have a cell phone. And because my husband and I had different numbers when, before we got married he has his own cell phone. We have a home phone. I’m paying that universal charge on three bills….So I’m being taxed three times…”
We would assume you don’t want to answer your husband’s calls on your cell phone, nor he on yours, so, yeah, you’re going to have different phone numbers on different phones.
Uh, you have three phones. Or did you want everyone else to carry the burden for you?
….In addition, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 directed the FCC to formalize what services a company must provide in order to receive funds. For example, an eligible telecommunications company must be able to demonstrate its ability to remain functional in emergency situations. The Act also expanded the universe of companies required to pay into the fund from only interstate long-distance carriers to include all telecommunications carriers (regardless of whether they are wireline, wireless or satellite companies)….
….The Universal Service Fund provides support through four programs:
High-Cost Support (now known as the Connect America Fund) provides support to certain qualifying telephone companies that serve high-cost areas, thereby ensuring that the residents of these regions have access to reasonably comparable service at rates reasonably comparable to urban areas
Low-Income Support, also called the Lifeline program, assists low-income customers by helping to pay for monthly telephone charges so that telephone service is more affordable
Schools and Libraries Support, also known as the “E-Rate,” provides telecommunication services (e.g., local and long-distance calling, both fixed and mobile, high-speed data transmission lines), Internet access, and internal connections (the equipment that delivers these services to particular locations) to eligible schools and libraries
Rural Health Care Support allows rural health care providers to pay rates for telecommunications services similar to those of their urban counterparts, making telehealth services affordable, and also subsidizes Internet access….
At around thirty-six minutes:
[On prescription pharmaceutical costs]
Voice 5: Because this is, this is one of those things, really, I see that France, Germany, obviously Mexico, nations pass laws that say, all right, we’re, when it comes to the medical and the medication type thing this is the deal. And I’ve wondered, why can they buy the same medication that’s manufactured in an American manufacturing facility, why can they buy it for less than we can?
Voice 8: Because they have price controls and we let ’em get by with it.
Voice 5:What, I mean [crosstalk], what…
Voice 8: So they pass, they pass the costs on to the Americans and they’ve been doing it for years and that’s one of the things that should have been taken care of [crosstalk] in this damn health reform…
Voice 5: See, there, there, there you go.
Voice 8: …and nobody’s even brought up.
Voice 5: That, see , that’s the whole thing, I wrote [crosstalk] a letter…
Voice 8: The Taiwanese can, can come up with all kinds of cute things but they can’t make a profit on it. They can bring it over here and sell it for a profit. [inaudible] So we’re subsidizing their [inaudible]…
Uh, it’s American pharmaceuticals or Taiwanese and we subsidize them or they price gouge us?
And, no one is forcing American pharmaceutical companies to sell to their products in price controlled foreign countries, are they? They’re still making a profit, aren’t they? Or just not as much?
….Pharmaceutical companies often justify the high drug prices that result from market growth as necessary to provide incentives for research and development efforts. However, experts maintain that the high cost of prescription drugs are due not only to research and development costs, but also to international price control issues, compensation for shareholders and executives in the pharmaceutics industry, marketing costs, and political contributions….
….United States manufacturers of pharmaceutical drugs rarely, if ever, limit the distribution of their products to their domestic market. Instead, pharmaceutical manufacturers choose to export their products to foreign countries….
….For more than a decade, beginning in the early 1990s, the pharmaceutical industry has been the most profitable industry in America. In 2001, the pharmaceutical industry was more than five times as profitable as the average Fortune 500 company, with several pharmaceutical companies reporting profits of 18% of revenues. However, those same pharmaceutical companies spent an average of 27% of revenue on marketing and advertising and only 11% of revenue on research and development. Additionally, from 1996 to 2001, pharmaceutical industry shareholders received an annual rate of return of 18.4%, twice the median rate of return for Fortune 500 shareholders. Thus, critics argue that prescription drug prices are high not because of research and development spending, but because pharmaceutical executives and shareholders are greatly concerned about increased revenues and profits and spend accordingly….
After the handful of constituents left the “listening post” location Zack Brown and I engaged in a somewhat lengthy civilized conversation.