Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Duluth) left just as hastily as he came to today's Duluth airport town hall meeting, the first and only in the Duluth area this year. Cravaack called the meeting only yesterday after being confronted outside a private event by a crowd of protestors chanting "We want a town hall!" but over 200 people crammed into a room at the airport with more filling the hallways outside to give Cravaack a piece of their mind. Cravaack gave a presentation for about half an hour, and then took questions from the audience for the next thirty minutes. He refused to entertain the notion that taxes should be raised on the wealthy, despite repeated groans from the crowd, claiming that "you can't tax the rich enough to pay for the deficit." He also said that removing the cap on income considered for the payroll tax would keep employers from hiring, and he claimed that increasing the size of Pell grants only causes the price of tuition to go up. Needless to say, these are all laughable claims. Even Republican economist Bruce Bartlett points out that a hefty chunk of our debt could be wiped out by raising taxes to Reagan era levels. Removing the cap could theoretically have the some effect of discouraging new hires for workers above $108,000 in income, but that would only affect the top 10% of income earners, hardly something that affect hiring in a widespread manner. Certainly it would affect the economy less than cutting Social Security for hundreds of millions of Americans. And the claim that Pell grant increases college tuition costs is one that has been floated by the Koch Brothers-financed FreedomWorks.org. Needless to see, college tuition has increased in years when Pell grant funding did not go up. There's little correlation between the two, certainly not as strong as the correlation between the private student loan industry and tuition increases. Cravaack ended up the meeting just after 5pm despite pleas from the crowd to continue until more people had their questions addressed. One person noticed aloud (audible in the video) that Cravaack should schedule another meeting in Duluth after 5:00 so that people who have a job could manage to attend as well.
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