Freshman Tea Party Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) was one of several Republicans who refused to hold free and open town hall meetings this summer, choosing to meet only with those who were willing to pay a fee. After a contentious town hall meeting in Hazleton yesterday, it’s not hard to understand why Barletta wanted to avoid his angry constituents.
The Standard Speaker reports that protesters grilled Barletta on everything from jobs to Social Security:
Emotions ran high during Barletta’s fifth stop on his “Home to House” town hall tour at Hazleton City Hall, with a handful of attendees who packed Council Chambers questioning the congressman’s voting record on free trade, health care and jobs.
“You’re not doing your job, Mr. Lou,” said Stroudsburg resident Jennie Schaefer. “Stop treating people like we’re the dogs waiting under the table for some scraps.”
Watch a clip of the town hall, distributed by Pennsylvania Democrats:
Schaefer was essentially asking Barletta to support policies that would help average Americans instead of consistently siding with corporations. Another constituent kept yelling “that’s a lie” when Barletta tried to justify his position on jobs and the economy. Allentown resident Jody Weidrich asked whether the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare would increase if Barletta had his way. He replied that he supported the Paul Ryan budget, which would drastically cut entitlement services.
Roxanne Pauline, a coordinator with the Northeastern Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation, called on Barletta to “tax the rich.” Barletta responded that he didn’t think that approach would improve America’s financial standing.
At one point, Barletta defensively asked the protesters whether they had questioned their previous representatives, noting that he has only been on the job nine months. This isn’t the first time Barletta has treated constituents’ concerns dismissively and suggested that those who challenge his positions are part of a coordinated Democratic campaign.
At a town hall meeting in April, Barletta literally laughed at constituents who questioned his vote to maintain billions of dollars in subsidies for Big Oil. Another constituent told him, “You’re our congressman, don’t laugh at us!” At another event he was rebuked by a 64-year-old woman who wanted to know why he backed “a plan that will destroy Medicare.” The congressman’s office brushed aside the complaint and tried to smear the woman.