As we previously noted here on the blog, Rep. Paul Ryan is part of a rather large contingent of Congress who refused to hold public meetings in his district during the August recess, preferring instead to appear at events that charge money for attendance and having constituents arrested who persisted in meeting with him at a district office. What is Ryan so afraid of? Why is he limiting public appearances to pay-per-view events? Maybe he's just a really busy guy, but more likely he's avoiding town halls because he's afraid of getting booed by his constituents again, like he was last spring after he proposed privatizing Medicare and cutting taxes even more for the wealthy. Yesterday, Paul Ryan was true to form, reserving his time in the district for a private speech at a local Rotary Club banquet that charged $15 a head for entrance. This time, however, constituents who wanted to get some answers from Ryan weren't deterred by the fee, gladly forking over the money for a chance to finally face their congressman and ask questions about the jobs crisis. The constituents repeatedly pressed Ryan on his record and on his ideology. The first questioner guffawed when Ryan harped on the "debt crisis" in his prepared remarks, and asked Ryan why doesn't he focus on the "good jobs crisis". Ryan attempted to sidestep the question, saying that we have jobs crisis because we've run up a large debt. That response must have struck a nerve, because the second questioner, a women further back in the audience, quickly interrupted Ryan to state that the unemployment rate has markedly increased since the first round of Bush tax cuts went through, and so has our debt. Essentially, she pointed out, we've been borrowing trillions so that we can fund tax cuts for rich people, and we've lost jobs in the process. Ryan had no answer for that. Time after time, constituents asked Ryan a reasonable question and presented him with an opposing point of view, and time after time, police escorted them from the banquet. All in all, a dozen people were escorted out by police and three were arrested. I'd be willing to cut Ryan some slack for refusing to answer questions at a Rotary Club appearance if he'd actually face his constituents in public. But as it is (and as one questioner noted), how can they give Ryan their opinions when he won't talk to them in public?
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