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Invisible Town Hall Revolution Continues to Roll, With Real Impact on GOP

We’re seeing more evidence today of the “Invisible Town Hall Revolution,” the pushback by ordinary Americans for progressive values like tax fairness, good jobs now and the social safety net. Freshman Rep. Randy Hultgren was cornered at one of his town halls by constituents who demanded taxes on the wealthy. This is great stuff:

“We have clear information that .?.?. tax cuts, especially to the super rich, has not increased any more jobs,” one man told him. “I want to know under what conditions you would be willing to consider increasing taxes, especially on those who can afford it? ”

“I just have one question for you tonight,” said another. “Did you sign Grover Norquist’s pledge to never raise taxes?” — referring to the promise that has been signed by most congressional Republicans, including Hultgren.

“Don’t you have the confidence in your own ability in Congress to make up your own mind? You need Grover Norquist to tell you?” the man continued.

In an escalation, unemployed Americans occupied Paul Ryan’s district office demanding an audience.

Incidentally, this is working on Republicans. Presidential candidate Rick Perry has had to moderate his tone on Social Security. Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenberry appeared to agree with fellow Nebraskan Warren Buffett on the need for progressive taxation, saying that the tax code “skews in favor of the ultra-wealthy, ultra-wealthy corporations and the overseas aristocracy.” And Catfood Commission II member Fred Upton is playing defense on Medicare:

A Republican member of the powerful, deficit-slashing supercommittee vowed this week that the panel won’t touch benefits under Social Security and Medicare.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said it’s “critical” that current enrollees in those entitlement programs “not see benefit reductions.”

“It’s awfully hard to tell someone … who might be 82, that they’ve gotta go back to work, because their benefits are gonna be chopped,” Upton said Tuesday during a town-hall gathering in Kalamazoo, Mich. “That’s not gonna happen. We’re not gonna allow that to happen.”

If you hold current beneficiaries harmless, you get no savings scored in the 10-year budget window. You cannot do anything to those programs that will read as a cut.

A lot of liberals have moved in the direction that public opinion cannot move the crazies on the right. That can be true, but judging from the reaction to a town hall revolution that isn’t even being reported in the national media, it’s not entirely true. And if people were better informed about the parlous state of the American economy, about inequality, about taxes, they would be even angrier, and you would see even more action.

In order to give that lesson broadly, you need someone at the lectern educating on progressive values, not people who constantly push for backroom deals to cut the safety net.

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David Dayen

David Dayen