Bucshon still hasn’t answered our questions

Open letter to Congressman Larry Bucshon:

I attended your speaking engagement at Woodrow Wilson Middle School on Aug. 21, 2019. Touted as an opportunity for you to listen to 8th District voters, this 90-minute “town hall meeting” was a farce. Your insistence on answering only pre-screened, written questions eliminated spontaneous interaction with constituents. Your protracted, evasive responses squandered up to 20 minutes per question, leaving most unanswered “because time did not allow it.” 

These condescending soliloquies continued long after the audience expressed a desire for brevity. During followup you discourteously interrupted several citizens, suggesting that they were hostile or mendacious. Your impatience even extended to the moderator, whom you frequently cut off in mid-question.

Knowing from experience that you discourage voters from voicing their thoughts, our local Indivisible group supplied attendees with red and green cards for self-expression without disruption. However, you chastised the audience for exercising this constitutional right to civilly communicate with their elected representative. Coupled with a restrictive environment and oppressive private security presence, your bellicose demeanor stripped this event of the democratic spirit integral to a town hall meeting.

I and others prepared several questions for this event. Since your town hall was a platform for political puffery rather than an opportunity for meaningful interaction, we still await your response, and encourage others who were similarly frustrated to submit queries to Dr. Bucshon.

1. The Center for American Progress concludes that 51% of the 8th District population under 65 has a pre-existing condition. Knowing that over half of the residents would find insurance more costly or unavailable as a result, why did you vote against legislation to protect us? (H.R. 986: Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act of 2019.)

2. Following recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton you released a statement linking mental illness to gun violence, yet in 2017 you voted to overturn legislation that would deter severely mentally deficient people from accessing firearms. Please explain your preference for ensuring easy gun access to the mentally unstable. (HJ Res. 40.)

3. Given that there is nowhere in the country where a person working a full-time minimum wage job can afford to rent a decent two-bedroom apartment, why did you vote against raising the minimum wage? (H.R.15-Raise the Wage Act.)

4. Hoosier farmers are going bankrupt at record rates, with twice as many filings in 2018 as during the 2008 recession. Last year’s median farm income was negative $1,548 while farm debt reached over $400 billion. Experts say our current “trade war” drives the agricultural crisis. This year the government will pay out $1.2 billion more in farm trade relief than it will collect in tariffs on Chinese imports. Do you view this as sound fiscal policy? How do you respond to farmers devastated by the trade war?

5. In recent months at least seven children have died in custody after being detained by federal immigration officials at the border, and immigration officials have refused to improve living conditions. Why did you vote against HR 3239–The Humanitarian Standards of individuals in Customs and Border Protection Custody Act? How does this vote comport with your Hippocratic oath?

6. The Anti-Defamation League has found that right-wing extremists, including white supremacists, committed 73.3% of extremist murders from 2009-2018. Those who believe in the humanity of all people must stand against the President’s inflammatory, racist rhetoric. When will you speak up for constitutional and Christian values? What is your plan to protect us from the alarming trend of of white nationalist violence?

7. You recently requested emergency disaster relief for Hoosier farmers due to the prevalence of extreme weather. During a House Science, Space and Technology Committee hearing in 2014, you told White House Science Adviser Dr. John Holdren that you declined to review scientific literature on global warming, stating, “I could read that, but I don’t believe it.” Do you still reject empirical evidence of climate crisis and its impact on our farming communities?

8. 83% of Hoosiers support background checks for firearm purchases, yet you consistently vote against this legislation. How do you justify disregarding the will and safety of the vast majority of your constituents?

— Robert Dodson, Centerpoint

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