Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Connolly and Other Dems Speak About Their Consituents' Opposition to GOP's Cuts to Medicare

Before a meeting of the Democratic Caucus this morning, several members of the House of Representatives held a press availability to talk about town halls that they held with constituents during their district work period. Among those who spoke was Gerry Connolly, who highlighted how there’s a clear “difference between the Democratic message and the Republican message.” The difference, as Gerry put it, is that the Republicans only focus on the cost of programs but don’t seem to look at the value. Democrats such as himself, however, understand that “the need to make strategic investments is something that is very important.” During a town hall Obama held at the Annandale campus of NVCC and a telephone town hall that Gerry held during the work period, his constituents illustrated how they also strongly support funding programs like Medicare that provide crucial services for the public.

As Connolly pointed out, a poll that his office conducted during his telephone town hall showed that 73% of his constituents opposed the plan put forward by Paul Ryan and the GOP that would essentially end Medicare as we know it.
Several days [after the President’s townhall at NVCC] I had the largest telephone town hall meeting, my 11th, that I've ever had. 31,000 constituents in the 11th congressional district of Virginia participated in this telephone town hall meeting. And we did a poll. And we asked them whether they supported efforts by Mr. Ryan, the Budget Chairman on the Republican side to dismantle Medicare as we know it because we can't afford it, and to replace it with essentially a voucher system starting with people who are 54 or younger, or whether we wanted to preserve Medicare as we know it. We made the pro-Ryan question came first so that we didn't skew the results. We had very substantial participation in the poll question during the telephone town hall meeting. And by a margin of 73 to 27, my constituents flatly rejected the Ryan approach. They want to preserve Medicare as we know it. That's something worth fighting for in their minds. I have to admit that was a somewhat surprising result in terms of the margin.

I represent a swing district, a district that voted for George Bush in 2004, voted for President Barack Obama in 2008. And I had a close election myself in a very divided last November. So to have that kind of overwhelming result to me was a telling sign of the attitude of voters with respect to the Ryan budget. And certainly that's something I'm going to take into consideration as we move forward here in the Congress. Thank you very much.
There are a couple of things I think are worth noting about Gerry’s comments here. 1)Gerry does represent a swing district. As a resident of the 11th, in fact, I can tell you that during election season I often see more GOP than Democratic bumper stickers and yard signs. This is important because it highlights how opponents to Paul Ryan’s plan aren’t just some lefties who will oppose anything put forward by the GOP.

2)Like many of the other House members who spoke at the event, Gerry represents a district with highly educated constituency. When you combine that with the fact that it’s based right outside of DC and is home to thousands of federal workers, it’s very likely that they are knowledgeable about what’s going on in debates surrounding the federal budget (many of their jobs depend upon it, after all). As a result of this and the wording of the question, their opposition to the GOP’s proposed cuts to medicare is very strong and isn’t that is simply being swayed to score some political points.

For those of you who want to watch the full press availability, you can see it here:

No comments:

Post a Comment