More and more Republican pols were skipping town hall public forums in the week following GOP budget-slashing and billionaire-coddling tax policies unleashed the dreaded Standard and Poor's 500 "Death Cross" and bourses around the globe resumed plummeting toward recession.
Reps. Lou Barletta (R-PA) and Renee Ellmers (R-NC) added to the growing list of Republican lawmakers who'd rather bask in the glow of fawning pay-to-parlay sycophants rather than suffer the slings and arrows of outraged constituents. GOP lawmakers Paul Ryan (WI), Ben Quayle (AZ), and Chip Cravaack (MN) had already deemed themselves too precious to meet with outraged voters.
To demonstrate why the natives were outraged, Bruce Bartlett conscientiously compiled a list of twenty-three recent polls that all showed roughly seven in ten Americans wanted the filthy, filthy rich to start paying more in taxes to straighten out the economic mess caused by slashing taxes on the filthy, filthy rich. Slashing taxes on the rich resulted in slashing spending on everything else, while the rich responded by slashing jobs in America, as cheaper labor elsewhere meant more profits the rich could enjoy not paying taxes on.
Republican pols, champions of slashing taxes on the rich, seemed anxious to avoid scenes like that experienced by Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) at his town hall meeting in Sandwich, IL Wednesday. Hultgren faced outraged constituents who were among the 72% of Americans that wanted folks making $250,000 or much, much more a year to pay higher taxes to fund Medicare and Social Security, as just one of those 23 polls found.
"We have clear information that...tax cuts, especially to the super-rich, has not increased any more jobs," one voter said. "I want to know under what conditions you would be willing to consider increasing taxes, especially on those who can afford it?"
"Don't you have confidence in your own ability in Congress to make up your mind? You need Grover Norquist to tell you?" another asked.
Barletta dodged those sorts of bullets by limiting his August recess appearance to a Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry shindig dubbed "CEO to CEO." According to the Scranton Times-Tribune, regular folks were confined to waving placards and shouting outside the Westmoreland Club, where, for $30, the hoi polloi inside were tucking into whatever you could tuck into for $30 in Wilkes-Barre while schmoozing Barletta into getting more and greater tax cuts, tax breaks and tax subsidies.
Barletta didn't schedule any public forums for the August Congressional recess, which was understandable considering the third degree he got last Spring when furious constituents gave him what-for over Republican schemes to gut Medicare, hand all its money to insurance industry cronies, and pawn off future seniors with worthless coupons the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office revealed wouldn't cover a third of the recipient's health care costs.
Ellmers was slated to appear Aug. 24 at a National Active and Retired Federal Employees fete in Fayetteville, NC, which was supposedly open to the public, so long as that public was willing to pay $13 a head, so said the Fayetteville Observer.
"The problem with this is somebody needs to fit the bill for the lunch," Ellmer's spokesperson Tom Doheny explained the tab was to cover vittles. "It's not a random midday event." Apparently, the folks in Wilkes-Barre got fancier eats than the ones in Fayetteville were getting.
Meanwhile, helped along by all those spending cuts Republicans used to funnel money back to their rich buddies, the world's equity markets resumed their impression of Lt. Cmdr. John McCain's A-4E Skyhawk on its last mission over the 'Nam. As every reputable economist not on Rupert Murdoch's payroll would tell you, in dicey economic times, governments should be increasing spending to stimulate the economy, not slashing spending to depress the economy.
Morgan Stanley, whose offices were littered with folks handy with a calculator, Wednesday lowered its expectations for economic growth at home and abroad, figuring that governments slashing spending would make economies everywhere act like John McCain's flaming A-4. Morgan Stanley said the U.S. economy was "hovering dangerously close to recession."
That was on top of the rather melodramatically-monikered Death Cross equity markets experienced Aug. 11, the Harry Potter-sounding phenomenon wherein the S&P 500's 50-day moving average line crossed below its 200-day moving average line. 60% of the time that happened, markets plummeted much, much more than they'd already plummeted.
Demonstrating what good prognosticators the Death Cross and Morgan Stanley were, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dutifully dropped 419 points Thursday, and backed it up with another 173-point dive Friday. Worries over European banks were augmented by a Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia report that mid-Atlantic regional manufacturing was making like McCain's flaming fighter-bomber.
Outside the Wilkes-Barre "CEO to CEO" Barletta shindig, the crowd chanted, "Where are the jobs, Lou? Where are the jobs?" They waved signs and brandished cardboard-cutout effigies.
Citizens in Action coordinator Roxanne Pauline explained they had tried to registering online and pay $30 to attend the Barletta-fest, but had been told they could not because they were neither Chamber members or CEOs. Barletta had ducked every other request to meet with Pauline's group as well.
Reporters had also been barred from the event. "It was not a media event. It was just a member event," said Chamber veep Donna Sedor.
The protesters yelled and chanted and waved their signs as reporters took snaps. Turned out it was media event after all.