Earlier today, House Republicans launched yet another project for soliciting ideas for the Party’s agenda, complaining that “Americans are seeing an arrogant Congress that refuses to listen to the people.” Promoting their new America Speaking Out website today, Republicans repeatedly declared that their effort was “about listening to the American people.” “The Democrat majority isn’t listening, but House Republicans will,” said Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN).
On his radio show today, Bill Bennett pressed project chairman Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on what “the set up” was “for the listening.” McCarthy replied by touting upcoming “town hall meetings” that will have “suggestion boxes,” adding that “you’ll find our actions from listening from what we gathered and we’ll introduce”:
BENNETT: Ok. And what’s the system for or the set up for the listening? Not the talking, but the listening? The listening at your end. How will we know that you and Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan and John Boehner and everybody’s going to listen?
MCCARTHY: Well, you look from a couple different from our actions. From in the site itself, you’ll have discussions. If you go in and say you want to talk about the tax policy, find that Paul Ryan, Dave Camp, myself and Eric Cantor will be part of a discussion in there. Debating the different legislations. You will soon see next week town hall meetings across the country. Where as you will come in, the members will have one suggestion boxes, you can directly give it. You can speak to the member themselves and you will find many of them will have white boards where they’re even writing it down so people can see what they’re writing down. Part of this is making sure people realize one we’re listening, but also then you’ll find our actions from listening from what we gathered and we we’ll introduce.
But the GOP’s emphasis on “listening” was undercut by Pence when he insisted today that “it’s not a listening tour”:
Hari Sevugan, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, seized on the initiative as evidence that the G.O.P., in addition to objecting to almost all of Democrats’ proposals, have no ideas of their own. “Republicans abdicated their responsibility to govern a long time ago,” Mr. Sevugan said. “If Republicans actually listened to the American people, or for that matter the results of the special Congressional election in Pennsylvania, they would know that knee-jerk opposition, obstruction, delay and taxpayer-funded gimmicks are not a substitute for leadership.”
Mr. Pence rejected that notion. “This is not a political party in search of a keel or in search of principles. It’s not a listening tour. House Republican know what we believe,” he said. “House Republicans know that the American people know better than elected officials and politicians about what putting those principles into practice really looks like.”
Pence’s admission confirms Ryan Powers’ observation that America Speaking Out is “all kind of a farce” because “House Republicans won’t incorporate anything they don’t already agree with.” “This isn’t American Idol,” said McCarthy told the Washington Post, “adding that the top vote-getting idea on the site might not be adopted by the GOP. Referring to the party’s broader platform, he said, ‘we are in the process of creating ours, so it’s based upon our principles.’”
At the Wonk Room, Andrea Nill points out that “one of the ideas proposed” at America Speaking Out “today questions the patriotism of Latinos and wonders why the U.S. would support immigration reform that would bring the country ‘down to the level of Mexcico [sic].’”