Yesterday Congresswoman Niki Tsonaas (D-MA) held a telephone town hall taking questions from voters all across her 3rd Massachusetts district. Presenting her views and getting feedback on various issues.
Tsongas opened with a statement talking about the Sequester cuts saying instead they need a “balanced approach” looking for additional revenues (read taxes) suggesting the lack of discretion was the biggest fault of the package.
She took several questions on sequestration Keith from Townsend asked about furlough notifications coming when Millions were going to Egypt & Afghanistan she replied the sequester was designed to be a Sword of Damocles but in her words: “the Sword was too blunt” and didn’t force either side to the table.
When Patricia from Lunenburg asked why a 2% cut in the increase of the budget could hurt anyone Tsongas again cited the lack of discretion noting that only 30% of the budget was subject to Sequestration as it didn’t affect entitlements.
And while she agreed with Kirk from Marlboro who wanted more infrastructure spending, she pointed out to him Doug from Townsend and Russell from Clinton that the nature of the house empowers the majority party Democrat or Republican and in the end only compromise would allow things to get done.
She talked about sexual assault in the military and steps taken in committee to solve the issue but her words on Afghanistan drew the most passion from her and attention from constituents.
She talked of her Mothers day visit to Afghanistan (her fifth ) and stressed the necessity of protecting the gains women have made in the country saying they can’t be allowed to be reversed by our draw down and told two different questioners from Fitchburg that the women in Afghanistan told her they are willing to fight the fight if we can give them the space to do it. She suggested the use of our aid to be insure women were not excluded saying bluntly when it comes to the Taliban:
“We don’t negotiate away women’s gains to bring them to the table!”
She also commented on the various scandals, saying we must learn from Benghazi and stating bluntly “IRS must be unquestionably A-political” but when questioned on an independent counsel ducked instead praising the President for being public and active in his efforts to increase transparency.
While one might question her definition of transparency on the part of the White House there is no question of her own. She took more than a dozen questions from different voters, invited others to leave recorded messages. Asked several poll questions to get feedback from all people on the call and not only didn’t exclude people who disagreed her she proactively called them to be invited to the event.
That willingness to engage can’t but help in 2014 which promises to be a tougher election than the last. Agree or disagree on issues one can’t help but note the first job of a Representative is to treat the voters you represent properly.