At a town hall in Westfield, NJ last Thursday, Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) faced a torrent of critical questions from constituents. CranfordPatch reporter John Celock described the event, where Lance was quizzed on his support for reducing funds to Planned Parenthood, his vote to end Medicare, and on health reform.
One audience member ripped Lance for supporting Bush-era tax cuts for upper income families, and even volunteered to pay more:
“I pay a lot of taxes this year and I don’t have a problem paying more taxes,” an attendee said. “People who make a lot of money should make a contribution back to society.” He and other attendees proposed raising taxes for high-income earners and repealing the Bush-Era Tax Cuts.
As town hall attendees lobbed policy questions, Lance simply replied at times with political rebuttals. Asked about GE’s corporate tax avoiding, all Lance rebutted with a reminder that GE chairman Jeff Immelt has an appointment to a White House advisory board:
One attendee pointed to General Electric, the subject of a New York Times investigative story in March that revealed that G.E. paid no taxes in 2010 and claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion. “Those guys don’t pay a goddamn dime,” the attendee said to loud applause. “I apologize for swearing.”
Lance deflected the question, stating it would be better referred to Obama, who appointed G.E. chairman Jeffrey Immelt to lead an economic policy advisory board. He added that House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., plans to hold hearings on corporate tax issues soon.
Lance’s dodgy responses sometimes lacked a factual basis. Asked why members of Congress are privileged with a health system protected with a regulated exchange and generous subsidies, Lance mocked the audience member and accused them of being in favor of “single-payer option”:
Members of the audience asked Lance about the health care coverage he receives as a member of Congress, arguing that all Americans should have access to similar medical benefits. “From a time an American is born, why can’t that person get the exact same benefits as a member of Congress?” one attendee said. “If you tell us what you get, why can’t we get it?”
Lance replied that it sounded like the attendee favored a single-payer or government-run option for healthcare – a response confirmed by loud applause from members of the gallery. The congressman went on to argue that health insurance should be provided by employers, not the government.
Although no video is available from the town hall, Lance was booed multiple times.