Republican politicians are spreading out across the nation, but instead of holding court with high-priced lobbyists who shower them with thousands of dollars in campaign contributions, GOP congressman are allowing average citizens to ask them questions for $10, $15 or $35.
The House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan — who took severe criticism from his Wisconsin constituency in April after he proposed the elimination of Medicare — will only speak with residents willing to shell out $15 to see him in person.
For $35, attendees can question Rep. Ben Quayle at a Phoenix luncheon sponsored by the Arizona Republican Lawyers Association.
U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack shocked his constituents when he announced his family would be moving to New Hampshire, but Minnesota citizens will still be able to see their congressman if they pony up $10 to attend an event hosted by the local chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
Ryan, Quayle and Cravaack have not scheduled any open town hall meetings during the August congressional recess.
Republicans harnessed public anger to help defeat scores of Democrats throughout the nation after constituents began showing up at town-hall meetings to denounce the controversial health-care-reform bill championed by President Barack Obama.
Their attempt to end Medicare is becoming a thorny issue for Republicans, who also face fire from residents angry about dangerous political games that have brought the nation to the brink of disaster.
Some Republicans sought to lower the temperature by holding virtual town halls where they could not be confronted by unemployed Americans demanding answers on fiscal problems and disruptive politics.
Rep. Lou Barletta appeared at a $30-per-plate “CEO-to-CEO” event in Pennsylvania, and Rep. Renee Ellmers appeared at a North Carolina event that cost $13.
Not all the Republicans have been successful weeding out critics by charging admission.
Nearly 200 protesters showed up outside with signs accusing Republicans of protecting corporations over people, when House Speaker John Boehner and Minnesota Rep. Erik Paulsen held a $10,000-a-person golf outing.
U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance found himself cornered at the Scotch Hill Golf Club, where half of the 100 people attending a town hall-style meeting hosted by the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Tea Party, were members of the progressive activist group, MoveOn.org.
“After Republicans voted to gut Medicare and other vital programs while protecting tax breaks for millionaires and corporations, it’s not surprising that they would not want to face their constituents in an open forum,” said MoveOn.org Executive Director Justin Ruben. “There seems to be no limit to how much our government is for sale.”
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