Why Did They Vote 'No'?

I sent Congressman John Tierney, Democratic representative from Massachusetts' 6th District, a letter yesterday morning through his website, asking him to oppose the bailout. (I mistakenly deleted my own copy, but it said essentially what Stephen Bourque's letter said.)

I found out soon after the vote yesterday that Tierney had voted no. That's good, but like LB, I was curious why he had voted that way.

The web form for sending letters to Tierney includes a "Request a written response: Yes/No" option, so I chose "Yes." Yesterday evening, he sent me a response. Or at least his aide did.

September 29, 2008

Mr. C. August
1 Address Way
Suburb, MA 01234

Dear Mr. August:

Without getting into the fine details, I thought I would let you know that I voted against the so-called Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (H.R. 3997) when it was brought to the House floor earlier today. There were compromises made in this version of the bill, ostensibly to gain bipartisan support. Unfortunately, such compromises were made at the expense of key priorities -- investment in helping homeowners, protections to ensure that the taxpayer will not have to absorb the full cost, and incentives to get the economy back on track.

This bill can be improved, and a different approach can be taken so that foregoing issues can be appropriately addressed.

As of this writing, it is expected that Congress will revisit this matter before the end of the week. I will keep you updated.

Thank you for weighing in.


John F. Tierney
Member of Congress

This does not directly address anything I wrote in my letter. This is just a canned FYI letter, and explains his bad reasons for voting against the bill and his hope that a "better" bailout will be passed soon, just like I predicted yesterday.

Diana Hsieh posted a back-and-forth between John Lewis and his congressman, David Price, over the bailout. Lewis' final response was great, but in light of the form letter I received from my rep, I'm inclined to look at Price's letter to him in a more cynical manner.

Rather than being a personal letter addressing issues raised by Dr. Lewis, I fear it was a canned response. My guess is that Price's aides wrote two form letters to send out to everyone who contacted him. The people who communicated their opposition to the bill received the letter Lewis got. Those who voiced support for the bill probably got a letter hyping the fact that Price was fighting for their position.

Hopefully Dr. Lewis' ideas will penetrate and have some impact, but I don't think it's likely in that forum. Most politicians don't respond to ideas; they respond to pressure. They tally up the Yes and No votes, and then either sway -- out of fear for their jobs -- in the direction of what the majority of the constituents said, or they bow to pressure from their party if the party line conflicts with what the voters want. I would be shocked and amazed to find out that such abstract things as reasoned arguments or individual rights had any place in the decision making process of a sitting congressman.

1 comment:

Lynne said...

Tierney's letter does address what he plans to do - have at it again.

It seems like that is the general consensus for the naysayers - they wanted to make a stand, but the administration (with the help of the manic media) is keeping the pressure on. It's not looking good, so we'd best do our part to keep the pressure on and the right ideas flowing.

I love Dr. Lewis' first letter and am going to model my second one after it. Short and to the point.