U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, who has a reputation for getting out of sorts when challenged at public meetings, is getting some sharp questioning at a session he scheduled this morning at the West Fork City Hall, according to notes I’ve received.
He reportedly told the crowd of about 200 that jammed the small space that he wished they could be more cheerful.
I’m hoping to see some phone video before long.
A report on Twitter said Womack wouldn’t take the meeting outside so all who’d tried to attend could hear what he had to say. His emphasis on deficit reduction didn’t sit well with at least one attendee interested in preserving benefits under the Affordable Care Act. (Though it is not a drag on the budget.)
Text message from spectator:
He just said don’t be snarky, I’m trying to help you. I don’t know how much more I can take. [To be clear, that last sentence are words of the spectator.]
On tax reform, he said he didn’t see it as mathematically or politically possible to take the corporate income tax rate down to 15 percent, as Donald Trump has said he supports. He said nobody wants to do anything to Medicare that affects “current beneficiaries.” But he said “doing nothing is going to affect you.” He defended congressional plans to pull regulations finalized in the final days of the Obama administration. He said they were harmful to the economy. We have the power of government, he said, and the Republicans intend to use it. This drew some scattered applause. And some challenges from spectators saying economic circumstances had improved.
Womack said the crowd on hand intended to be disruptive, which drew murmurs of protest. He said this after refusing a request to go outside so the many people who couldn’t get in could hear him.
UPDATE: I heard from a resident of the district, Tom McKinney, who was disappointed because he couldn’t get in the meeting.
I am a thirty-year resident of West Fork and I read your note about Rep. Womack’s meeting at the West Fork City Hall this morning and the number of folks standing outside is accurate. I could not stay in the building to hear what the Congressman was saying because the room they reserved was ridiculously small for such a venue – estimated 25’ X 25’ max., and the fire marshal made folks stay outside. What? They thought only about 50 people would show up for the meeting? Not two blocks away we have a very nice municipal civic center, the Frank Wenzel Center, that could have held the whole crowd, inside and out, easily. I went by there after seeing that there was no way I was going to be able to get into the meeting at city hall and found a meeting going on at the civic center attended by all of about 10 people, with locked doors. I called the city hall and asked who was meeting at the civic center and how often and they told me that it was a group that met there regularly every Tuesday through Thursday mornings. Now, I am not saying this regular group should have had their schedule interrupted for the Womack meeting, though something might have been able to be worked out with them. But, Womack’s office could have at least scheduled the meeting for a time the Wenzel Center was available so that all who wanted to attend could. Unless they did not want that to happen of course. Just a thought.
I did leave a note card with my message on it which I did only after seeing other folks walking around with their own cards. No announcement was made that I heard about leaving messages.
ALSO: Ozark Indivisible has posted video on Facebook.
Another reader, Joyce McGown, provided this account:
I attended Coffee with Congressman Steve Womack at the West Fork City Hall. They usually have around 10-15 attend this event. Today there were over 150- more than could fit into the building. Several people asked very good questions, but he wasn’t listening. He wouldn’t answer people’s questions, just kept repeating his talking points. At one point he said that he didn’t believe anyone there voted for him so he didn’t have to listen to us. He was very self-centered, wanted to do all the talking, and got very angry and loud a couple of times. He told us we needed to be more cheerful and to show him more respect. He also said he was just a little congressman and had no input to the Trump Administration. Then he gave us a civics lesson about the three branches of government. It was ridiculous and demeaning to the people who were there.