It's getting increasingly easy for politicians in the Republican majority to ignore, overlook and simply shut out their detractors-just check out the press pool at any of George W. Bush's tour stops. But credit Sen. Mike Crapo with having the all-too-rare chutzpah to set up a private face-to-face-or at least, lens-to-lens-meeting with a group that has been vocal in their opposition to one of his party leader's most contentious passions: privatization.
This Wednesday, June 22, Crapo will hold a 15-minute satellite conversation with members of Idahoans United to Protect Social Security, a local group that has staged a flurry of local rallies in opposition to the Bush administration's plan to privatize Social Security-and who, on June 2, held a 150-person "empty chair" town hall meeting in Crapo's honor, where most of the audience donned pins reading, "Where's Mike?"
According to Lucinda Hormel of IUPSS, the group will have representatives from a wide swath of Social Security-dependent demographics at the talk, including retirees, social workers, Social Security Administration representatives and the disabled. She told BW they will ask Crapo, who sits on the Senate Finance Committee, where he stands on the contentious issue, since he has said very little about his views thus far.
"I'm just hoping the senator will be able to clarify his position a little more strongly," Hormel said. "But we don't have huge expectations in terms of getting a policy statement. Our main goal is to let the senator know how strongly we feel about this issue, and that we're very happy to have a representative on the Senate committee, and how sorry we were that he couldn't attend [the town hall]."
As to why the group was being granted a window in the senator's busy schedule, Crapo's press secretary Lindsay Nothern explained, "They asked for a meeting." It's just that simple, folks.