Congressman Randy Forbes has an active constituent outreach program. It is a great program if you support the issues Congressman Forbes favors. He polls his constituents regularly by e-mail and Facebook. However, the polls are usually worded to steer answers validating his position. For example, on April 28 he asked:
According to a recent USA Today study, Americans depended more on government aid in 2010 than at any other time in U.S. history due to the expansion of health care and federal programs generally, the aging population, and lingering economic problems. Are you concerned about a growing dependence of citizens on the federal government?
Yes, I am concerned that increased reliance on government assistance leads to less independence and more national debt.
No, I believe the social safety net must be expanded to assist those in need regardless of the impact on the fiscal condition.
I am unsure.
The choice of answers is narrow and biased. Forbes does not mention the cause of the dependence: the economic meltdown perpetrated by the reckless relaxation of regulation of the financial and industry and the irresponsible behavior of many working in that industry. The wording of this poll would leave an uninformed or forgetful constituent believing that Americans are just lazy.
Forbes fails to include the fact that the financial collapse of 2008 was the cause of the cited unemployment and dependence on government programs. The Congressman did not mention that the gap between the rich and the less affluent is wider than any time since just before the Great Depression.
The USA article cited by Forbes lists Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and unemployment insurance as the source of 80% of the safety net spending. But these programs are paid by the bottom 90% of wage earners who contribute to those programs through payroll taxes. Forbes insinuates that these programs are government charity.
Under Speaker John Boehner's leadership, the House scheduled an extraordinary amount of time this session for members to visit their home districts. Members are free to be in their districts, on average, half of each month. Yet, Congressman Forbes has no local town hall meetings scheduled. None. Zero.
It is time to open the public forum to your constituents, Mr. Forbes. I call on Congressman Forbes to open the public debate and listen to what we have to say.