On the eve of the October 1 government shutdown, San Joaquin Valley Republican Congressman Jeff Denham held a one hour telephone town hall meeting to answer questions about his political positions in the House of Representatives.
Mr. Denham opened the meeting by reading a prepared statement. The statement featured the exact same language used within the House of Representatives debate, and provided the rationale for obstruction of the Affordable Health Care Act by the Republican party that would force the federal government into shutdown later that night. Despite his party’s refusal to hold budget reconciliation meetings with the Senate during the past calendar year, he disavowed any responsibility for causing the shutdown. He said that there would not be a shut down if the Democrats would do his party’s bidding.
Mr. Denham repeatedly stated that he was supporting Republican efforts to delay implementation of health care reform “in the name of fairness.” He said that he didn’t think the administration of the Health Care Act was giving poor folks the same consideration as the big corporations. Considering Republican efforts to cut food stamps, his stated sympathy for the plight of poor folks was not convincing.
When asked whether he wanted to shut the government down, Mr. Denham said multiple times that he did not want to shut it down. He wouldn’t admit that the acts of his party would cause a shutdown, blaming Democrats for any negative consequences. He repeatedly said he just wanted fairness for the unnamed masses.
A Big Contradiction
Less than 20 minutes after Congressman Denham stated that he did not want to shut down the government, a caller came on the line advocating a shutdown of the government. Mr. Denham stated that he agreed with the caller one hundred percent. This directly contradicted earlier assertions that he did not want a shutdown.
When Mr. Denham had a hostile caller or a caller who asked a question Mr. Denham didn’t like, he would cut the caller off in the middle of the caller’s statement, read from his scripted message, and then go on to the next call.
When Mr. Denham had a friendly caller, the caller was allowed to drone on, much like most radio talk shows these days.
Promises of Continuous Benefits
A number of callers to Mr. Denham’s meeting were concerned about possible interruption of their federal benefits in a government shutdown. Mr. Denham assured each one that there would be no interruption. Once the caller was assured that benefits would not be interrupted, those who thought that they didn’t have to worry gave no objection to a possible shut down.
For callers not convinced, Mr. Denham offered assurances that he did not want a government shutdown and would not acknowledge the fact that his participation in Republican Congressional tactics would lead to a shutdown. He blamed Democrats for anything bad that happens when government shuts down.
Federal employees will lose income during the government shutdown. Mr. Denham did not express any concern about fairness to them.
No Responsibility of Any Kind
Congressman Jeff Denham maintained throughout his hour long telephone meeting that although he has served in Congress for 3 full years, he is not responsible in any way for any of the nation’s problems. He asserted that he has worked diligently to solve problems and that the Democrats are 100% responsible for the lack of accomplishment by the Congress he serves in.
For the record, during his 3 years in office, Mr. Denham did not introduce a single measure to improve the Affordable Health Care Act. He did vote over 40 times to repeal the entire law. He also supported a proposal to repeal $30 billion in taxes on medical devices, directly benefiting a few large corporations.
First, he stated that he disapproved of favoritism to large corporations, but then supported more tax breaks for large corporations. He must think that the wrong large corporations receive preferential treatment. He did not explain how a one year delay in the Affordable Care Act would benefit the uninsured or be fairer to them. He did not give callers the opportunity to ask these kinds of questions.
What is truly astounding is that some callers believed Mr. Denham’s statements at face value. His actions haven’t correlated with his words. Some of his statements were self-contradictory. But he vehemently denied any responsibility for any of the nation’s ongoing problems. He does not accept any responsibility for the government shutdown, even though he supported it.
Congressman Jeff Denham will be running for reelection next year. Will the public remember his role in bringing about the government shutdown?