(2 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
New York City’s last Republican strong hold, House District NY-13 that encompasses Staten Island and a small part of Brooklyn, elected a Tea Party Republican in November by a slim majority. Mr. Grimm, a former FBI agent, held his first town hall meetings during the Easter/Passover Congressional break and he got an earful about his support of the Ryan Budget and the privatization of Medicare. Needless to say, his Brooklyn constituents were not pleased and like many of his cohorts that want to end Medicare, he was strongly criticized. His second meeting on Staten Island was better screened to keep most of his critics outside and he was careful to only take questions from hand selected “guests”.
The crowd lay in wait for him with sharpened reports from the Congressional Budget Office, incendiary printouts from liberal blogs, and even a few lethal rolled-up newspapers with articles about the House plan. Mr. Grimm was left standing, but only after 90 minutes of high-decibel debate, during which a school security guard had to threaten to remove several citizens vibrating with anger about Medicare.
It began when he asked the crowd of about 100 people whether they believed the nation faced a debt crisis. A woman near the front row responded that the nation faced a revenue crisis. Someone else shouted out that taxes were too low, and a third person shouted that it was all President George W. Bush’s fault for cutting taxes on the rich. There was a big round of applause, and with that the evening became a battle of statistics and worldviews, in perhaps the only section of the city divided enough to match the national debate.
“Adjust Medicare, don’t kill it!” shouted one woman. “The program just isn’t sustainable,” Mr. Grimm said, trying to control his meeting. “That’s a flat-out lie,” said a man in a Communications Workers of America shirt.
Around the country, Republican lawmakers on recess have encountered bitter opposition as they meet with constituents infuriated at their Medicare vote. Republicans have complained that the town meetings have been targeted by Democratic activist groups like MoveOn. It’s true, but the criticism is no less legitimate than when members of the Tea Party swarmed town halls in 2009 at the height of the health care debate.
Many of Mr. Grimm’s critics at the Brooklyn meeting were wearing union shirts, or reading from printouts. One woman who almost got thrown out for shouting is a regular contributor to the Daily Kos Web site. A few said in interviews that they lived in more affluent sections of the borough. But just as many appeared to be Mr. Grimm’s constituents, and said they had grave concerns about his vote to cut the safety net while benefiting the rich.
With any luck, this will be Grimm’s only term in the House.