Added coverage from Flathead Beacon below
A year after the federal health care debate sent Congressional Democrats into hiding following raucous August townhall meetings, it appears Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) is inching his way back into dialogue with constituents.
According to the Daily Inter Lake, Baucus held a semi-open townhall meeting with small business owners in Columbia Falls.
The crowd of more than 50 people gathered at Glacier Discovery Square leaned a little more to the “get the government off my back” side but also included a fair share of people seeking help for a variety of business and personal issues.
Edwina Bergen of the North Fork fired the first shot across the senator’s bow by parading out front with a sign that said “No spend and tax.”
A short video of Baucus’ remarks is included on the Inter Lake website. I haven’t spotted any raw video of the entire event yet, but as you read the report, you can get a sense of some of the concerns. One small business owner criticized stimulus jobs as short-term, another complained about new “onerous” requirements on businesses for filing 1099 forms.
The Inter Lake added:
More than a few people expressed grave concern about the growing federal deficit and Baucus said he shared their concern.
A woman in the front row challenged Baucus as he referenced reforms to the health insurance industry, saying a family member’s policy had increased 40 percent due to the reform act. Baucus said that premiums would go up more slowly because of the bill, but the woman said 40 percent was not slower.
All in all though, politicos should take note: interacting with constituents is part of the job. Let them say their piece, and you say yours. Everyone’s not going to agree with you, but at least they can respect you for standing in front of them.
Meanwhile, the Flathead Beacon has this:
Here are two ways in which the summer of 2010 differs from the summer of 2009: First, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., spent close to three hours here last week at a public meeting where he took questions from all comers on everything from federal spending to veterans’ benefits – something he did not do last year. Second, far from the raucous town hall-style meetings of 2009 that nearly derailed the Democrats’ efforts to overhaul the American health care system, Baucus, a key author of that bill, encountered a crowd that was cordial, thoughtful and probing in its questions – but certainly not hostile.
What a time we have come to when a politician shows up in a room full of people who seem to all disagree with him- and the fact that they aren’t screaming at him is seen as a positive development.