Letter to the editor: Rebuttal was missing from Tipton town hall

I attended 3rd Congressional District Scott Tipton's 4/18/17 Alamosa Town Hall. The format was very egalitarian - people were given tickets and if their ticket number was called, they asked their question. There was no prejudice regarding the questioner or the question. Only one problem, there was no rebuttal (unless the questioner refused to yield the floor, which some did). Thus, one cannot question the congressman's answers. So the following rebuttal questions seek to further the discussion.

One question was about improving the ACA from someone clearly concerned about her current insurance costs and how they might worsen under a GOP plan. Tipton rattled off a bunch of insurance cost nightmares under the current ACA, but had no explanation of how the questioner's costs might change, except that he was sympathetic. He didn't address the fact that under the current paradigm, at least 25 percent of health care costs are due to the cost and administration of health insurance (Time, Bloomberg News). Tipton says he was a businessman before becoming a congressman. If, in his business, he found out that a supplier was simply after-marketing a product his business needed and adding 25 percent to the cost, and that he could get the product without going through the supplier, what would he do? Presumably, he would go direct and save the added expense. Why aren't we doing that with health care by eliminating the insurance middleman and expanding Medicare for everyone, saving billions of dollars, covering everyone, and making sure everyone pays?

Someone asked about the current president's budget proposal. First, Tipton threw off the concern by stating that the budget will go through a lot of congressional renegotiation before the final form of the bill is passed — not to worry, he has us covered. But when pressed about the size of the military budget increase, he claimed it would be foolish to vote against the military and that the increase was needed because we were flying planes and operating other equipment that are in need of serious repair. Sir, you mean to tell me that with the largest military budget in the world — more than the seven next largest foreign military budgets combined, we can't afford to maintain our equipment? Really? That's not a budget problem, that's a management problem.  Congress wants to strip social programs that take up less than a percentage point of the budget and have positive returns on investment. Maybe they should look for savings from those taking the largest proportion of the discretionary budget, i.e., the military.In response to the same question, someone asked about the nuclear bomb portion of the military budget. Tipton replied that with countries like North Korea and Iran developing nuclear programs we need a strong nuclear deterrent. Did Tipton really mean to imply that we need a strong nuclear response capability to defend ourselves against N. Korea and Iran? Really? Russia and China maybe, just to maintain parity, but N. Korea and Iran? Sounds like fear mongering to me.

And most important, at several points Tipton stated that he was all in favor of protecting our water and air quality. The record shows that out of 36 votes cast in 2016, Tipton has voted zero times in favor of the environment, including voting against the methane waste rule (methane is 4X more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2), for roads and motorized vehicles in wilderness areas, against National Monument protections, and against water and air pollution protections (http://scorecard.lcv.org/moc/scott-tipton).

How much evidence does Tipton need to be concerned that global warming might be a result of human activity, and that it might be prudent to curtail the burning of fossil fuels and fully redirect our energy usage toward sustainable, renewable and non-polluting technologies? How much evidence, given that virtually the entire scientific community has accepted that human activity is causing global warming, does he need?

Absent any rebuttal at the town hall, it was just another fun day tossing questions to Tipton and having them flipped through without meaningful discussion.

Chuck Tidd


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