Paulsen Missing at Town Hall Put on by His Constituents, Ellison Attends

Rep. Ellison stands next to a seat intended for Rep. Paulsen at a town hall in Eden Prairie. Photo Credit – Benjamin Pecka

Rep. Keith Ellison attended a town hall on Monday in Eden Prairie that was intended for Rep. Eric Paulsen, who did not show up for the event.

Indivisible MN03, which according to their Facebook page, is a group of “…concerned constituents of MN Congressional District 3, inspired by the Indivisible Guide to hold our Member of Congress accountable.” put on the event at Immanuel Lutheran Church.

Indivisible MN03 is a decidedly anti-Paulsen group that doesn’t shy away from voicing their issues about their elected representative.

The event featured a chair with a sign that mockingly asked, “Where is Erik” at the front of the church. A rep for Paulsen attended the event in Paulsen’s place. At the time of publication, Paulsen did not return a request for comment.

When Ellison was introduced, he arrived at the microphone to a standing ovation.

The town hall took the shape of a Q&A with people inside the church asking Ellison questions that Ellison asked them to keep at under a minute.

Among the wide range of topics covered during the town hall, the focus mostly lie on healthcare, the Democratic party, and the state of congress.

Ellison started out by responding to a question about the American Health Care Act (AHCA) saying that prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) “You had insurance until you actually need the policy.” This implies that the ACA fixed faux health coverage.

Ellison went on to say that the Republican bill that was recently passed by the House and is now sitting in the Senate “…is not a health care act. It is a massive tax cut for the wealthiest amongst us.”

“Taxes are the bills we pay to live in a civilized society,” said Ellison.

The Minnesota Representative also went on to suggest that domestic violence may not be covered under the AHCA.

Richard, from Bloomington, asked about the health care coverage of members of congress. To which Ellison responded that he was part of the exchange and that “There’s no special health care for congress.”

Later, when Ellison was questioned about congressional pensions he said that there was a two-tiered pension system and that by the time he was elected to office his pension was basically the same as that of other federal employees.

Congressional benefits can be found here. The link is from the Congressional Research Service and is on the senate.gov website.

Ellison espoused support of a single payer healthcare system because “…insurance companies don’t add value.”

A new direction for the DNC, of which Ellison is the deputy chair, will be implemented Ellison said. Instead of focusing mainly on presidential elections in a handful of states, Ellison says the DNC is going to start focusing on all 50 states during other times as well.

The last presidential election also came up with Ellison blaming low voter turnout on voter ID laws and people having more than one job. Ellison suggested allowing weekend voting and striking down voter ID laws as a remedy.

Voter turnout during the 2016 presidential election has been a source of confusion. News outlets like this article from CNN which was last updated about 3 weeks after the election reported voter turnout was at a 20-year low.

As this article from FiveThirtyEight pointed out about a week after the election

“Stories are still circulating a week after the election that turnout fell sharply from 2012. That’s almost certainly not true. The confusion is the result of news outlets trying to pin down voter turnout figures quickly in a system that doesn’t count millions of votes until weeks after the election.”

The Hill reported on March 16 2017 of new data by the U.S. Elections Project that showed

“About 139 million Americans, or 60.2 percent of the voting-eligible population, cast a ballot in November’s elections…That compares with 58.6 percent of eligible voters who turned out in 2012, but it’s below the 62.2 percent who turned out to help elect Obama for the first time in 2008.”

The Hill article also points out that Minnesota (Ellison’s district is in Minnesota) had a voter turnout rate that was higher than any in the nation with “nearly 3 out of 4 voters” coming out to vote.

Ellison also signaled support of a higher minimum wage saying “America can afford to pay its people” and said that the current crop of Republicans in the government are “not like your daddies Republicans” who Ellison said were considered liberal Republicans and supported social programs to help the US economy.

Deb, from Mound, asked Ellison towards the end of the town hall “How [Republicans] justify not carrying about us?”

Ellison responded by saying he’ll answer like his Republican colleagues and explained to the crowd that some Republicans don’t understand the plight of their constituents because of their own self-wealth and because Republicans think there should be less government. Video of that response is below.

In closing out the town hall, Ellison employed the audience to start talking to Republicans differently, saying not to use facts to back up their arguments and to start using emotion. “Emotion drives choice,” said Ellison

The event lasted for about an hour and a half and no outbursts and dissent was noticed by The Civic Observer.

Author’s note: This article is not a line by line recounting of the event. This is what I have deemed important for you, the reader, to know. The full audio of the event can be found at the bottom. I encourage you to listen to it.

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Paulsen Missing at Town Hall Put on by His Constituents, Ellison Attends by Mark Wasson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International

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    Mark likes to drink with his dog and lose friends. Follow him on Twitter @wassonisawesome for updates on protests and retweets of Things White Folks Like.

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