I have been following my Congressman's website closely and couldn't take the fence-sitting anymore. I called today to get a clear unequivocal answer to a simple question. Will you stand with House Progressives in support of including a public option in any legislation? Follow me over the fold for the contents of my conversation with his aides.
I first got through in John Hall's Goshen, NY office (our district includes Orange County NY home of the "Choppers" about 1 hour outside NYC) to a young woman who while very nice, could not answer for me this simple question: "Does Congressman Hall support the public option?" She told me that she couldn't speak on behalf of the Congressman. I pressed her saying that his website was noticeably ambiguous on his stance. It has lots of platitudes about the need for reform and how costs need to come down and more people need access. BUt I wanted to know whether or not the public option was a line in the sand for him? Unable to stand up to my withering cross examination (snark) she deferred and put me on hold while she went to find someone who could, "better answer my concerns".
After a moment, a young fellow picked up the line and identified himself as Evan. I instantly recognized the voice. Evan was a bright, young volunteer-organizer that I met while working on GOTV during the Obama '08 campaign. I refered to him by his last name and he seemed a bit stunned. But it seems he had remembered me too. SO at least I felt like I may get some straight answers to my questions.
I explained that I was feeling like John Hall was avoiding staking out a strong position. And that while I feel like they are a waste of time, no townhall meetings were scheduled in our district during the recess. I told him that this fact, coupled with the lack of any clearly enunciated position on what is critical to healthcare reform on John's website, led me to question whether John was avoiding the wrath of the rabid rightwing asshat constituency or telling the truth to the progressive community who helped him win his last election. Evan tried to placate me by explaining that the Congressman was not inclined to provide positions on a bill that was not yet complete and still in committee. "Not good enough", i told him. I said, "Evan its really simple. To me and my milieu, the public option IS the compromise between single payer which was never even considered and no reform at all. Either John stands with the 60 progressive congressman who signed the letter to HHS Sec Sebelius laying down the gauntlet, or he doesn't." Even just would not characterize the Congressman's position. He did say that John was in favor of the cost cutting benefits of the public option but he would not say whether or not it was critical in his view. I asked him whether John would sign a bill that offered reform without the public option and got similarly mushy, equivocating responses.
Finally, Evan, knowing what he knows of my politics (which incidentally, I think he shares)told me in a plaintive voice that he really wants to be able to tell me what John Hall's position is on the public option. I kind of got the impression that he wanted to tell me that John DOES support it, but for whatever reason he could not. But just to be sure, I told him to make it clear to John that we are watching and that if he does not make the PO his line in the sand, and that if he does vote for some watered down bluedog, co-op, "compromise" that we will consider that equal to voting like a republican and that all the goodwill he has enjoyed from us in terms of support and campaign volunteerism and campaign donations would all dry up faster than he could imagine and that I woudl be working for his primary opponent in the next election.
Please call John Hall if you live in NY-19.
Washington D.C. Office
1217 Longworth House Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-5441
Fax: (202) 225-3289
Orange County Gov't Center
255 Main St.
Goshen, NY 10924
Phone: (845) 291-4100
Fax: (845) 291-4164
40 Gleneida Avenue
Carmel, New York 10512
Phone: (845) 225-3641 x49371
Fax: (845) 228-1480
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