Just under half of House and Senate Republicans are holding town hall meetings this summer, but Democratic jobs activists say it's not enough. "They're holding a lot fewer" than in 2009, says Michael Uehlein, spokesman for the American Dream Movement.
Progressives are showing up at the offices of lawmakers to demand that Congress focus more on jobs and less on federal spending. Uehlein said that his group has already held 75 jobs protests at GOP offices.
But, he notes, the story hasn't turned into the huge media story that it was two years ago when the Tea Party erupted and demanded that members start cutting spending and taxes. "This story has been flying under the radar for the past few weeks, but people all across the country are standing up and demanding jobs," he said. [See political cartoons about the GOP.]
The group, however, has collected video of many of their protests that they are circulating in the media and among supporters.
Republicans counter that they are holding way more town halls than Democrats. A new phone survey of every House member proved their claim correct. No Labels a bipartisan citizen activist group, said that 67.9% of Democrats and 50.8% of Republicans weren't planning town hall meetings during the August recess, maybe a sign that lawmakers needed a break from Washington's partisan fights. [Check out editorial cartoons about the Tea Party.]
Still, those are poor numbers, said the group. "Washington must hear from all Americans, not a handpicked few who passes a partisan litmus test or can afford to donate," said William Galston, a No Labels Co-Founder. "Our concern is that elected officials are only hearing from their respective partisan bases and will not expose themselves to criticism. Politics is about competing ideas, and everyone should have a seat at the table."