A Telephone Town Hall?

Apparently my congressman decided to call his entire district tonight to invite us to have a 'town hall' meeting by phone.  That's about a hundred and fifty thousand people; I had no idea that you could run a teleconference with that many participants.

I write my congressman from time to time (in fact, I'd just written him today), but I had never spoken to him before.  Listening to his comments, I learned several things about him.

1)  He apparently does not believe that the 14th Amendment includes birthright citizenship, which he would like to end.  I was under the impression that it does, but having looked into the controversy, it sounds like there may be an argument to be made here -- the question arises based on whether one is fully subject to the jurisdiction of the United States government or not.  Children of ambassadors of foreign nations born in the United States, for example, are not granted citizenship.

I'm not sure that window is wide enough to admit of denying birthright citizenship to the children of illegal aliens, although I can see how one would structure an argument from it:  'If their parents had subjected themselves to our jurisdiction, they would not have been present to have the child on our soil.  Thus...' etc.

2)  He believes that the government is going "to destroy this country" if people do not begin demanding Constitutionally limited government.

3)  He has confidence in the House, but thinks the Senate is broken.  His contention is that the House has sent forward 28 bipartisan bills that would improve the jobs picture, but that Harry Reid in the Senate won't let them make the floor.

4)  He was very quick to make sure that elderly citizens on the call understood that Social Security was secure.  If they were afraid of cuts, he would ensure they understood that there was absolutely no proposal to cut 'a single penny' from their check.

5)  However, when another citizen raised the possibility that there would not actually be elections in the fall -- due to some sort of Obama-led coup -- he did not offer the same level of reassurance.  Whether that is pure politics, or because he has concerns about a coup, I could not say.

Still, I would have thought the danger of a coup was far more remote than the danger of cuts to Social Security.  The question about Social Security (and Medicare and Medicaid and Federal Pensions) is not if they will be cut, but how much, and when, and which of the programs will suffer most.  The danger of a coup is surely fantastic at this point:  no left-leaning coup could be effected in the face of a military that would not support it, and an armed citizenry that would not support it.

6)  He believes that regulations and taxes on business are the reason our economy is not recovering.  In seeking advice on how to vote on the economy, he has chiefly sought such advice from small businessmen and factory owners.  However, he also cited a conversation with Laffer, of the Laffer curve, whom he said had approved of his own bill on the subject of the economy (which bill will never, however, apparently pass the Harry-Reid-controlled-Senate; I think he had more to say about Sen. Reid than anyone else).

7)  Not surprising given the district, but he is an outspoken Evangelical Christian.  He did think to say something nice about Hanukkah at the end of the call, though; and he had earlier said that he was against all foreign aid except to Israel.  ('We're borrowing money to give it away,' being the reason for opposing all foreign aid; but apparently Israel is worth it.)

All in all, an interesting experience -- and apparently he will be doing more such calls in the future.


MikeD said...

How very creative. I don't think I've ever heard of a politician doing such a thing (on such a scale at least) before. Kudos to him for trying.

E Hines said...

Still, I would have thought the danger of a coup was far more remote than the danger of cuts to Social Security.

Without knowing the man, I speculate that one reason for his weaker reassurance against a coup is that, being such a remote possibility, it didn't need the strength of reassurance that Social Security did.

All in all, he sounds like a sound Representative of your district (say I, safely in my Texas district...).

I think, though, the argument against birthright citizenship is weak, though I sympathize with it. What the first clause of the 14th says is All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens.... It seems to this poor, dumb layman that subject to the jurisdiction is referring to the person born or naturalized, and not to that person's parents, so that the illegality of the alien parents would seem irrelevant. And circularly, as a minor child, that newborn isn't legally competent to decline jurisdiction, and so would seem to be under the jurisdiction of. Certainly both State and Federal governments assert so when agents of those governments act to protect the newborn in any abuse, or related, circumstances. Although this is weak, also, as those same governments act in most any "abuse, or related, circumstances" without asserting citizen-related jurisdictions.

Eric Hines