Back home from Washington on a break, Congressman Daniel Webster held his second “Stop the Spigot of Spending” town hall meeting this afternoon at the Orange County Education Extension Center in south Orlando. The presentation--held in an auditorium filled to capacity, with people standing in the aisles--was essentially a sales pitch for House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan’s budget plan, which the House passed on April 15
and aims to cut federal spending by $5.8 trillion over the next decade.
Here’s the fine print of the Ryan budget in a nutshell, according to Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein
: “Ryan’s savings all come from cuts, and at least two-thirds of them come from programs serving the poor. The wealthy, meanwhile, would see their taxes lowered, and the Defense Department would escape unscathed.”
Unfortunately for Webster, his constituents know this as well, and did not care to wait for the question and answer session to express their displeasure. It was hardly a minute after his presentation– which relied on a series of ominous graphs depicting growing government spending—that the shouting from the audience began. The word “bullshit” arrived at minute seven, “liar” was employed at minute eight, and as the fiasco unfolded, two police officers crept slowly closer to the stage. At some point, Adam Lucier, a home-schooled 10 year-old sitting next to this Weekly
reporter, said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if someone got tased."
When Webster unveiled the “FOREIGN OWNERS OF OUR DEBT” pie chart, one heckler shouted: “We don’t care who you borrow from to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy!”
“The top one percent pay 40 percent of the taxes, sir!” came a reply from the other side of the audience.
In the midst of the back-and-forth trivia hell, Webster managed to get a few pieces of his platform out intact. He argued that the U.S. has the “highest corporate taxes in the world” and hence lowering them will make for an environment where business are no longer “fearful” to hire and spend—sound familiar? When it came to energy, Webster argued that “we should drill every place we can,” which, like practically any other statement of substance that he made, was met by a loud mixture of applause and jeers. And when a woman with lupus asked about the future of Medicaid, Webster changed the subject to Medicare, and said it would be untouched, well, at least for the next nine years.
After the conference ended, the Weekly
asked Webster what he had been up to—after all, we had heard hardly a peep from since he went to Washington. He mentioned that his time with the Rules Committee—the “front line of all the bills that come through the House”—was enough to keep him occupied (he has no other committee appointments), and added: “I’m not necessarily as vocal as other people, though I do get the job done.”