(Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Tipton’s staff somehow included my number in a telephone town hall on Wednesday, March 12, 2014. They didn’t allow me to ask any live questions*, so their lapse in constituent screening has only resulted in this diary. Only supportive conservative callers were allowed to ask softball, pandering questions.
This was interesting, as Tipton’s real approval ratings in his district are way down after his vote to shut down the government. A PPP poll conducted a year ago (April 2013), showed 25% disapproval to 16% approval statewide, with 59% “not sure”. It’s only gotten worse – As of last October, PPP found that 51% disapprove, while 28% approve, of the job Scott Tipton is doing in Congress.
Does Tipton believe that he has few or no liberal and moderate constituents? Does he think that he can continue to skate by on smooth talk on water rights and veteran's issues, while ignoring immigration, the government shutdown, and education funding?
Does he understand that some of CD3 wants more than "greenwashing" environmental legislation?
Photo: Lily Tomlin, as Ernestine the switchboard operator. Credit:http://www.lilytomlin.com/characters/ernestine/
It was interesting to see what Tipton’s talking points are, and how he plans to answer his constituent’s concerns about jobs, water rights, the environment, and health care. All questions and answers are paraphrased, by me, the lurking liberal.
Caller 1: What are you doing to stop Obamacare?
Tipton: Obamacare Bad. No Republicans voted for it. I’m co-sponsoring a bill to incentivize private health savings accounts. We’re working to get rid of the penalty so that government can’t force you to buy it. Also, we want tort reform. And, Seniors can’t find doctors who will take Medicare.
At this point, callers took a survey: Are your premiums and copays increasing, decreasing, or do you not know?
Caller 2: In La Jara, we have shares of water, but can’t use them. Where is the water going?
Tipton: It’s caused by Bureau of Land Management overreach. We do have a drought. Snowpack is below 100%. Water is important. Harry Reid wants our water, but the Arkansas valley needs it.
Caller 3: How can we create more jobs when more land is owned by the Federal Government, and uses are restricted because of endangered species laws?
Tipton: I’m in favor of removing the regulatory bar. I’m cosponsoring the REINS act . (My note: The REINS act would block all regulation that has a fiscal impact of more than $100 million. It would essentially unbalance the “checks and balances” by removing power from the executive branch to create regulations. Rand Paul introduced it. It’s extreme, Tea Party favored, corporate-friendly legislation, with less than a 40% chance of passing into law. ) Tipton: I’ve also sponsored the healthy forest act ( probably will creates some timber jobs and remove some dead wood, mitigating wildfires, but sells our national forest trees to the highest bidder for the next 20 years). 2. Planning Americas Energy Future Act, which is basically everything the Oil and Gas industry wants, plus a few token “renewable” buzzwords to make it seem green.
Tipton: We have the lowest growth rate in jobs because of government overreach in regulations.
Caller 4: The President’s plan on changing payments to Medicare, social security, changing COLA on Social Security. I think that it’s “not going to be there”, or people will be getting reduced checks. What are you doing about this?
Tipton’s reply on this is amazing, because he did not correct this caller’s mistaken idea that “OBAMA is cutting Medicare and Social Security, and your benefits may not be there.” What Tipton did was talk around it . A) Blame ACA – it cost 6 Billion, he says. B. Social Security and Medicaid are not entitlements. C) We need to reduce 17.8 Trillion in debt.
Note: For anyone wanting to know the truth, the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) on Social Security– just at 1.5%, the slowest gain in a decade. Medicare premiums are flat, and the prescription donut hole is closing. See these Reuters article for summaries.
“Chained CPI” is being weighed, but isn’t actual policy yet. It would raise costs for premiums for eldest seniors, over time. Chained CPI was proposed as a concession made by Democratic negotiators to Republican sequester and government shutdown demands, both of which Rep. Tipton voted for. At this point, Senate Democrats are looking to expand Social Security and Medicaid benefits. Naturally, Tipton didn’t go into any of this.
Survey question: do you support “responsible” energy development? Yes, no, unsure? (Sure, I support that. What is it, again???)
Caller 5 One lumber mill left in Colorado, let’s put people to work.
Tipton I am so very green. I sponsored a Forest Health Act. Congressman Doc Hastings is cosponsoring a pilot program in Pagosa Springs. With two weeks of treatment, beetle-infested trees come back to life. Trimmed deadwood feeds biomass. We’re supporting geothermal in Pagosa Spgs.
Caller 6: Do you get overwhelmed?
Tipton: Every voter has $55K debt. (The question was "gag a maggot" sycophantic, so Tipton's non-answer on it is understandable. Or maybe the buttons got stuck, and "Debt" came out instead of "overreach".
Caller 7 Serviceman in Colorado Privacy concerns. Voters private information online. State of CO has sold this information to private company.
Tipton: T NSA phone records need to be protecting against terrorism, but there is overreach of fed government into our private lives. Rep. Gowdy has a bill to protect private rights. I’ll look into this.
Caller 8 Who will stand up for veterans? Healthcare, benefits?
Tipton speaks 4 min ,says nothing nicely. He supports the troops. No explanation of why he voted for the shutdown and sequestration, then attempted to amend it by restoring funding for veteran's educational benefits days later. His cosponsorship of the Healthy Vets Act isn't bad; Veteran's appropriations is probably Tipton's best issue, as far as I'm concerned.
Caller 9 (Rancher) Stupid sage grouse. Bureau of Land Management prohibits grazing because of the stupid sage grouse .
Tipton: Federal overreach. The Bureau of Land Management regulations impact on farm and ranch community. We have to push back with state solutions against fed regulations. The Department of the Interior predatory reintroduction impacts sage grouse. Farmers and ranchers are as important as sage grouse. We need good science based solutions. We need hatcheries for endangered species.
Caller 10 We’re so happy with the job you’re doing. How do we make presidential exec orders illegal?
Tipton: The overreach of this president. Bla bla . Obama is “eliminating laws”. House passed bill to hold exec branch accountable.
*I wanted to ask about why Tipton continues to vote with the House on blocking a comprehensive immigration bill, all the while mouthing platitudes about how we need a "thoughtful, step-by-step process for immigration reform."
Families of people being deported wanted to know, too.
Tipton's staff will never knowingly allow people like me to ask hard questions on his telephone town halls. But as Scotty continues to slip in the polls, he may find it useful to start to explain why his votes don't match up with his soothing statements on issues CD3 voters care about.
Hopefully, Tipton's Democratic opponent, Buffie Mcfadyen, will start challenging his positions. as well.