During the current August recess, several GOP congressman have felt the heat at town hall meetings from constituents angry over the GOP’s intransigence on tax increases. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was jeered for supporting huge corporate tax cuts, while Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) was told that taxes should go up because “big corporations and the rich have to pay their fair share.” One constituent had a simple message for Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL): “Let’s tax the rich.”
Rep. Rick Berg (R-ND) faced a similar backlash at a town hall in Fargo yesterday, where he was criticized for signing the Americans for Tax Reform’s anti-tax pledge, popularized by the anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist:
Several residents grilled Berg for signing the pledge and for his refusal to consider tax increases, specifically for the wealthiest Americans, like him.
“You work for North Dakota residents, not some guy from another state,” West Fargo resident Don Frost said.
Berg was also grilled for supporting the GOP’s push for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution (which former Reagan economic adviser Bruce Bartlett called “mind boggling in its insanity“), as residents rightly noted that approving such an amendment would do nothing for the economy in the short-term (and would be incredibly problematic in the long-term):
However, several residents criticized Berg’s position, saying the amendment won’t solve immediate problems – like getting unemployed Americans back to work.
“The balanced budget amendment is like trying to drain a lake to save a drowning person,” West Fargo resident Darrel Lund said. “People are in trouble now.”
While most of the GOP caucus is dedicated to Norquist’s anti-tax pledge (which says that no additional revenue can ever be raised by the government, for any reason), Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) publicly disavowed the pledge this week. “I don’t care to be associated with it. It’s too constraining,” he said.