Sunday, February 21, Move-on-up.org member Stephanie Rubach invited us to meet with Roy Blunt at the Urban Studio Cafe.  The focus of Congressman Blunt’s discussion was his position on the political economic situation in America.  The meeting was interactive, and many relevant questions were answered.  Blunt was concise and forthright, speaking in specifics not platitudes and ideology.  Beside the making a strong case for himself as a candidate for the US Senate, he also demonstrated the power of direct communication with the people.

A few days before this meeting, before we knew of the meeting, we asked black voters what  they thought was preventing Republicans from gaining their vote.  The common responses were that Republicans had not come to their communities, and that they felt that their tone was not appealing to blacks.  They were aware that blacks had once voted for Republicans in greater numbers, and they remembered that Lyndon Johnson was a segregationist and that Robert Byrd was a Klansman.  They also expressed concern for education, not being sure if the Republicans were committed to helping blacks in this area.

Roy Blunt was open and candid about his positions on these and other issues.  Move-On-Up.org director Chirs Arps asked the Congressman if he would continue support the HUD (Housing Urban Development) and other housing projects that previous Missouri senators had been active in.  Blunt said that he wanted to take a look at those programs to make sure that they were working properly and efficiently. We believe many government development projects are rout with waste.  Blunt asserted that he would work for community development, and that make sure areas like North City would once again thrive as they once did.

When Stephanie Rubach expressed her concern about the Republican Congressional meeting with Obama about the health care reform, Blunt said that he thought that the voters would probably be the ones to “kill the bill”.  He added that he thought that even if they did force something through using reconciliation thus without bi-partisan support, it would be a superficial gesture without the power of the original plan.  Blunt pointed to the fact that the bill did not take full effect for four to five years, and that there would be several election cycles to have it dismantled. 

This is a contrast from the notion that any version of this bill being passed will result in an irreversible slide to a government take over of the health industry.  Many believe that any version of this bill will lead to a chain reaction that will lock the nation into the public program, and that the taxes and penalties for not having insurance would begin immediately. 

Blunt presented a more conventional view, holding to the idea that voters can defeat bad policy.  When we relayed this to others, the feeling tended to be split between those that found Blunt’s optimism on this refreshing and those that feared this would lock American into a public take over.

Stephanie Rubach, a health care professional, has been voicing her clear opposition to socialized medicine.  She has helped to debunk the myth that the reform debate is a merely an exercise in racial “code language”.   And Move-On-Up.org has been working to debunk the long stnading myth that black people should naturally embrace socialism and government control of their lives.  Roy Blunt summed this up by objecting to the “Federal Straight Jacket” that has been pushed on the urban communities for so long. 

Congressman Blunt is correct.

We asked him about how do we reconcile the national call to control spending with improving the educational system he was very clear:

“I really think it is a mistake to assume that the proper way or the best place to fund elementary and secondary education is Washington D. C.  Frankly, every time we talk about the federal government, and that if we just wait long enough it’s going to build a school building, they haven’t built one yet………he adds “The further you get these decisions from moms and dads and class room teachers, the less common sense and the less good results your gonna get.”

Recently, there have been numerous references to the Founding Fathers as conservatives  look to the Constitution as the means to return government to its proper role.  In particular, Thomas Jefferson has been the “Favorite Founder” for many. 

Congressman Blunt mentioned him as “President Jefferson” as seeing that “the states could be a laboratory for change.”  He emphasized that this did not mean greatly increasing government spending, but that I don’t mind spending a few federal dollars to try to create a model….. to share with other states.”

This was a very interesting and effective statement, as many of the grassroots movement have voiced their disagreement with Blount’s spending on TARP and cash for clunkers.  We conveyed these challenges, but unlike Barney Frank, Blunt answered with class and respect.

The Congressman said that he did vote for the first TARP  in 2008, and he said that he only concurred with the original $250 billion.  “An addition $100 billion was added.”  Blunt said that they hoped that this would have loosened the credit markets.  We recall that their was not initially a clear consensus on this issue among economists, as if there ever is.  But Blunt made the point that many conservatives agreed with that plan, and we added that many conservative commentators also advocated it.

Blunt admitted that it was not used exactly as he would have liked, but that the initial investment has been all but repaid.  He also holds that this cannot be held as responsible for the massive increase in the deficit, since for this the tax payer haveh been reimbursed, and that “you can’t say that this justifies more deficit spending”.

Here lies the dissention between some of the various political camps.  Blunt’s case is based on structural analysis and quantitative evidence.  However, many who are angry at government felt that the two TARP bills were in conjunction with one another, and that TARP 1 opened the door for TARP 2.  This difference in understanding was demonstrated in his feeling that we  have time to reverse the health care bill if it passes.

We see this is a growing conflict between the conceptual and functional elements of the conservative polity.  Many grassroots conservatives say they oppose Blunt because even though the original TARP may have been paid off, the principle of bailing out the banks was a the problem.  Blunt supporters have made a distinction to the two bailouts, saying the first one was the one that “saved the financial industry”, and that the second bailout was primarily a means for the Democratic leadership and Obama to control and punish.

Regardless of where one stands, Congressman Blunt was sharp and made his positions clear.  This is in  contrast to Robin Carnahan, who when interviewed by Jamie Allman earlier this year, spent much of the session trying to appear to be both for and against President Obama’s.  Also, while  Carnahan was only decisive when she was blaming Blunt and Bush “for the mess we are in”, Blunt only spoke of what he believed and did not mention her or his primary opponents.

Roy Blunt did what many Republicans have failed to do in the past.  He went to a black community and discussed is positions on how they are relevant to both the black voters and the nation as a whole.

Linda Boyd-Shell, an observer at the meeting says:

I thought he did a good job but I just would like to make sure that the City of St Louis is not left behind like in the past. John Scates and I have met with lots of different ones over the years to secure more help with pulling more Republican votes out of the City & North County. I, as well as John, believe that if we had the backing from Jeff City and the MO Republican Party to really get out the message to these areas, we could increase the votes for our candidates by 10 to 15%. In doing so though, we need to always keep all politicians feet to the fire on what they said they would do once elected! I think that is one of the biggest things that we have to continue to do. If they will do as they said when running then we will continue to support them.
Categories: Uncategorized
  1. February 23, 2010 at 1:20 am

    It is very important for voters to hold their elected representatives feet to the fire. It is also very important for the representatives to be available to hear from all the people in their district and not just special interest groups.

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