Into the belly of the beast | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Into the belly of the beast

Posted By on Tue, Aug 18, 2009 at 3:15 PM

Sen. Blanche Lincoln will do three "real" town halls in September -- Russellville, Jonesboro and Pine Bluff -- and even appear on a couple of shows on nutbar radio central, KARN, to take questions. Read all about it in her news release. Also, the Republican Party has begun the rawhiding.


Washington – U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln today announced her schedule of events for September 1-4.  In addition to Lincoln’s previously scheduled meetings, the Senator will hold three “town hall-style” forums across the state in response to requests from her constituents. 
“As I travel the state, I continue to hear from Arkansans concerned about health care and our recovering economy,” Lincoln said.  “Rebuilding our nation’s economy and putting 98,000 jobless Arkansans back to work is my top priority.  As health care premiums continue to rise for Arkansas’s families and our nation spends one of every six dollars on health care costs, reforming our health insurance system is an essential part of getting our economy back on track.  I look forward to continuing an open and constructive dialogue with Arkansans so that we can rebuild our economy and fine-tune our health care system so it works for all of us.”
After fulfilling a number of previously scheduled obligations during the first week of the recess period, Lincoln adjusted the remainder of her schedule to accommodate requests for face-to-face town hall meetings with Arkansans.
Lincoln has averaged more than 10 public, town hall-style meetings per year since she was first sworn in as a U.S. Senator in 1999. These open forums have focused on Social Security, the Medicare prescription drug program, education, veterans and National Guard, and many more issues.  Earlier this year, in anticipation that Congress would act on health care reform in July, Lincoln held a series of rural health care public forums tour across the state in April, as well as open meetings during the July work period.
“I appreciate the opportunity to personally meet with fellow Arkansans to hear their comments and concerns,” Lincoln said.  “That is the best part of my job, and I look forward to holding this latest series of town hall meetings.”
In addition to town hall meetings in Russellville, Pine Bluff and Jonesboro, Lincoln will appear at the invitation of the Arkansas chapter of the American Association of Retired People (AARP) on a Teletown Hall meeting for AARP members and will be the guest of talk radio hosts Bob Steel and Dave Elswick on their respective shows during the first week of September.
In addition, Lincoln has solicited the comments and opinions of thousands of Arkansans by email regarding health insurance reform and has shared many of these responses with her Senate colleagues. Lincoln encouraged those who are unable to meet with her in person to continue their open dialogue via phone, mail, and email (contact info at
The following is Lincoln’s schedule of events for September 1-4:
Tuesday, September 1—Little Rock
12:00 p.m., Keynote speaker, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging’s Elder Law Task Force Conference.  Lincoln’s bipartisan “Elder Justice Act,” first introduced in 2005, aims to protect seniors from abuse and exploitation by significantly strengthening prevention, detection, monitoring, and intervention of elder mistreatment and neglect.  Lincoln is a member of the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Special Committee on Aging. The Reynolds Institute on Aging, UAMS Campus, 629 Jack Stephens Drive, Little Rock (Lower Level Atrium).
7:30 p.m., AARP Arkansas Teletown Hall.  At the invitation of AARP Arkansas, Lincoln will join AARP Arkansas State Director Maria Reynolds-Diaz for a Q&A session on health care reform with Arkansas’s AARP members. 
Wednesday, September 2—North Little Rock, Russellville
8:30-9:00 a.m., KARN News Radio’s “First News with Bob Steel.”  Lincoln will join host Bob Steel for a one-on-one interview and take questions from callers.  KARN live line call-in number: 501-433-0092, or 1-800-264-0092.
10:00 a.m., Grand Opening of Pulaski Technical College Aerospace Technology Center.  1600 West Maryland Avenue, North Little Rock.
12:30-2:30 p.m., Russellville Town Hall Meeting.  Arkansas Tech University’s Doc Bryan Auditorium. 1605 Coliseum Drive, Room 109, Russellville.  Doors open at 11:30 a.m.
Thursday, September 3—Pine Bluff
3:30-5:30 p.m., Pine Bluff Town Hall Meeting.  University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff’s Fine Arts Building.  1200 North University, Pine Bluff.  Doors open at 2:30 p.m.
6:30 p.m., Featured speaker, Jefferson County Farm Bureau annual meeting. Pine Bluff Country Club, 1100 Country Club Lane.
Friday, September 4—Jonesboro
9:00-11:00 a.m., Jonesboro Town Hall Meeting.  Arkansas State University’s Fowler Center.  201 Olympic Drive, Jonesboro. Doors open at 8:00 a.m.
3:30-4:00 p.m., KARN News Radio’s Dave Elswick Show.  Lincoln will join host Dave Elswick for a one-on-one interview and take questions from callers.  KARN live line call-in number: 501-433-0092, or 1-800-264-0092.


The good people of Arkansas have spent more than a week waiting for the opportunity to ask you important questions on health care reform during the August work recess, so I’m pleased to see you have finally added town hall meetings to your schedule in September.  As a member of the United States Senate, you owe your constituents an honest discussion on the health care proposals.  As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, you owe them an explanation of how you plan to pay for the plan.
You have repeatedly stated you are charged with the responsibility of finding ways to pay for health care reform, yet you have provided no information as to how the bill will be paid for.  The absence of details raises several questions:
In a post on on Aug. 17, 2009, you were asked if tax increases would be used to pay for the overhaul, you said "No, it’s really not tax increases. I mean, they’re on the table for everybody.  I would prefer to see us taking out the inefficiencies in the tax code.”  If it’s really not tax increases, what is it, really?  What specific inefficiencies are you referring to?
In your letter to me dated July 27, you indicated that you would not support tax increases for “working families” to pay for health care.  What do you consider a “working family?”  What, in your opinion, is the income level cut off for “working families?
In your News Release, dated July 31, 2009, you wrote:  “I have been involved in bipartisan negotiations that will fully pay for health reform without adding to our nation's deficit or raising taxes on Arkansas's working families.”  In those negotiations, what do you classify as a “working family?”
While you dismiss Arkansans who raise questions as ‘un-American,’ I believe they have a right to know how you will manage their purse-strings in Washington D.C.  I hope you address this important aspect of health care reform with Arkansans at your upcoming town hall meetings.  Further, I look forward to hearing your responses to my questions.
Doyle Webb
Chairman, Republican Party of Arkansas

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