Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Walz Calls for Town Hall Meetings - So should Kline

Being honest with the public is the best policy. Sometimes the subject can be contentious and the public ill-informed … that’s why members of Congress need to reach out to their constituents and educate them.

First District Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN) has never shied away from engaging with his constituents … long before this summer’s Town Hall hysterics, Representative Walz had open forums discussing Veterans issues, Senior issues, Agriculture issues, etc. … issues that directly affected his constituents. During the current health care debate, Representative Walz has held private meetings with interested groups as well as tele-town hall meetings and open meetings in Mankato and Rochester.

Second District Congressman John Kline (R-MN) has shied away from open meetings only holding one during his first three terms and finally after the August recess, Representative Kline held his only public meeting to present his opposition to the HR 3200 healthcare legislation at Lakeville South High School on September 18th.

Healthcare reform is not the only critical question facing the country … and not the only one that has long-term financial impacts.

Representative Walz appeared on MPR’s Midday program stating that Americans should be as engaged in the discussion about the war in Afghanistan as they are in health care reform.
Further Representative Walz put it in perspective of dollars, families and our future : “We spent $900 billion in the last eight years, we've sent over 4,000 of our warriors that didn't return, we've got another 20,000 severely wounded and this is a choice that this nation's going to have to think very carefully about."

Representative Walz wants to hold a Town Hall meeting to discuss Afghanistan … possibly in Winona in October.
That’s why I like Congressman Walz. He wants our input.

Representative Walz will not be coming into the meeting as a partisian blind supporter of the Department of Defense’s viewpoint. Walz has had on-the-ground vantage of seeing operations in action (and without a kelvar vest). At the invitation of the House Armed Services Committee, Representative Walz, who sits on the Veterans Affairs Committee, inspected Special Forces training operations in Mali, Kenya, Djibouti, and Afghanistan, from August 27 to September 3rd.
Representative Walz will be able to educate us and also be able to react to our concerns.

Regardless of the party of the President, this time it is not going to be a partisain issue. Now that Bush’s War has turned into Obama’s War, I suspect that some of the fiscal conservatives that opposed the military involvement in Kosova during the Clinton Administration, will take a harder look today. Former Congressman Gil Gutknecht opposed Kosova and after his visit to Iraq expressed concern of that mission. Columnist George Will has called to pull out of Afghanistan. (On that suggestion, I agree with Representative Walz who has expressed doubt that anti-terrorist operations can be conducted solely by remote controlled Predator drones and spy planes.)

Let’s commend Congressman Walz … but he is not the only member of the Minnesota delegation that has responsibility for military oversight.

According to his bio, Representative Kline considers himself to have “established himself as one of Congress’s foremost experts on defense and veterans issues.” Representative Kline serves on the House Armed Services Committee and in April, 2009, he made his third trip to Afghanistan.

While Representative Walz has maintained an open mind, Representative Kline, in a radio interview on the AM 1170 KOWZ, expressed his staunch commitment for the engagement in Afghanistan. But Representative Kline has failed to address the financial impacts of the ongoing war. On a previous program, Representative Kline defended his support for an earmark for funding additional F-22A planes as a “jobs program” … without acknowledging that the plane has not been used in the Iraq or Afghanistan conflict … and that the Department of Defense does not feel any more need to be built.
Representative Kline has been a vocal critic of earmarks … but his words do not match his vote. The DOD authorization is chockfull of projects that DOD does not want … including VH-71 presidential helicopter, an alternative engine program for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, extra C-17 transport planes and F-18 jets, as well as the Kinetic Energy Interceptor, a missile defense program.

It’s time that Representative Kline holds a Town Hall meeting to discuss Afghanistan and why he voted for these earmarks. Kline needs to educate the voters and get his constituents’ input.

1 comment:

Holly Cairns said...

Well, what you are asking for would take a lot of effort on Kline's part. He doesn't just advertise the town halls, but perhaps invites only his followers. I didn't get any notification of the health care town hall, for example.

PS, while we've made a showing in Afghanistan, maybe we should have limited goals there. What would they be...? But one thing for sure, better to be there than Iraq if we are concerned about 9/11.