I don’t know about you but when I think of a Town Hall I think of a two-way interactive discussion. I think of a give and take conversation where concerned citizens share ideas and opinions. It doesn’t necessarily have to be sweet and polite – but it needs to be an open forum. In the invitation to her March 6 and 7 town halls, Congresswoman Maloney suggests
“Please come to one of my Town Hall Meetings this weekend to discuss creating jobs and the state of the economy.”
You might think this was an invitation to – well – come and discuss creating jobs. But no one did any discussing except those who toe the government’s line. The Congresswoman’s Town Hall this past weekend delivered only a one-way stream of worn out propaganda despite the attempts of a sizable percentage of the audience to create some meaningful discussion.
First let’s look at the list of speakers
- Martha Soffer, Business Development Specialist, U.S. Small Business Administration
- Mr. Kyle Kimball, Executive Vice President, City of New York, Economic Development Corporation
- Michele Mattingly, Research Associate, Fiscal Policy Institute
- Felice Farber, Director, External Affairs, General Contractors Association
- David Bomke, Vice President, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce
- Francine Delgado, Senior Vice President, NYC Programs, SEEDCO
- Matthew Silverstein, Project Analyst, America Works of NY
I don’t mean to suggest that the speakers are not competent and intelligent. I’m sure they are. Some have impressive credentials. However, with the exception of Kyle Kimball and perhaps David Bomke they don’t appear to be very long on private sector entrepreneurial experience. Of course I don’t know but I wonder if any one of them has ever actually started or significantly grown a business. The Town Hall was supposed to be about creating jobs. Shouldn’t some of the speakers have actually done that? Several of the speakers cited chapter and verse about how many jobs they created via their work in the public sector. But, shuffling tax payer money to someone who starts a business is not the same thing as actually creating economically sustainable jobs in the private sector. Why didn’t we hear from some of those real entrepreneurs they helped? And how many jobs did these speakers participate in destroying by taxing successful entrepreneur Peter to pay start up Paul? The public sector is great at anecdotes about how tax and spend helps this deserving person or that. But there isn’t much discussion about the costs and negative consequences.
That’s the problem. This was no example of open honest government. No opposing opinion was permitted. They limited questions to those contributed on cards and screened. Every question was pork barrel softball for example; how can government create jobs and raise wages, and – if another stimulus isn’t passed would these group represented be out of business.
One gentlemen politely asked if the Congresswoman or the panel would take unscreened questions from the floor and was answered with a resounding NO. This met with some fairly vocal protests from a significant percent of the crowd who I suspect had some doubts that more and more government is the answer. I did submit a question about whether the stimulus money might create another bubble and set us up for another crash. Somehow they didn’t get to that one. One gentleman who said he is a Democrat and voted for Maloney and planned to vote for her again did get in a question from the floor. What would prevent the health care bill from costing much more than anticipated? The Congresswoman talked quite a bit but said nothing that answered the question.
Carolyn Maloney realizes that she doesn’t have to be responsive to constituents with opposing viewpoints because she’s the incumbant and as such she is virtually guaranteed re-election, particularly in her overwhelmingly democratic district. She can continue to vote for disastrous policies that caused the financial meltdown such as those that required Fannie Mae to buy more and more junk assets. That policy removed the market mechanisms that would have prevented the bubble. She can continue to take campaign contributions from the financial institutions she regulates. She can talk about financial transparency and then refuse to support a meaningful audit of the Federal Reserve. She can continue to blindly pursue disastrous tax and spend fiscal policies. But of course Carolyn Maloney is a politician and not a business person so she can’t be expected to know anything about markets. I would suggest that she might listen to someone who does. And someone like that might even be in the audience at one of her town halls – if she would only listen.