The Garden City Telegram
9/3/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Too stubborn

Congressman has obligation to weigh constituent input.

Leonard Rodenbur's family situation is more common than some would have us believe.

During a recent town hall meeting in Garden City, the local resident told his congressman, U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, how his relatives were receiving help from the federal law known as Obamacare.

Rodenbur listed benefits of the Affordable Care Act that should hit home with many Americans:

* His 22-year-old son, with a full-time job and paying back student loans, can stay on his parents' insurance until he's 26.

* His daughter can get insurance despite a pre-existing condition.

* His mother-in-law will be able to afford her prescriptions because the Medicare Part D "donut hole" will be closed.

* His brother-in-law received a reimbursement check from his insurance company. Some 12 million other Americans have received a total of $1.1 billion in reimbursements so far.

Rodenbur also questioned the possible negative impact of the law on businesses, suggesting that the fallout has been overstated by Republican critics.

It's safe to say Huelskamp, an ardent opponent of Obamacare, wasn't moved by Rodenbur's comments. As a Tea Party Republican, Huelskamp has proudly participated in scores of failed votes in the U.S. House attempting to repeal Obamacare — grandstanding that's been a waste of the public's time.

When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, most everyone agrees it isn't perfect. Legislators, Democrat and Republican, should work together to improve the law, and weigh all input from constituents as part of that process.

Huelskamp, unfortunately, has no interest in compromise or contributing in such a way. He's even said he wouldn't answer his own constituents' questions on the Affordable Care Act.

While the congressman has every right to his opinion, he has no business dismissing the people he serves. He was elected to represent all people of his district, not just those who share his political views.

Town hall meetings should be an ideal opportunity for representatives to gather input and a sense of direction from the people they serve.

But as we saw recently, they're just another place for Huelskamp to showcase his stubbornness and reluctance to be a productive member of Congress.