In Which I Engage in a Pointless Farce

Today President Obama unleashed the kraken: he emailed everyone on his email list encouraging them to contact their elected representatives to ask them to sign the discharge petition about extending the Bush tax cut earnings less than the top 2%. I decided to make a call, even though I knew, given who my representative is, just how pointless that is.

Here’s the note I got:

Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2012 11:13:07
From: “Stephanie Cutter,”
To: A Michael Froomkin < >
Subject: Help the President with just one phone call
1 OK ~127 lines Text
2 Shown ~218 lines Text

Obama – Biden
A. Michael —

Who will decide if your taxes increase in just 22 days? A few dozen members of the House of Representatives, that’s who.

Cutting taxes for the middle class shouldn’t be difficult, especially when Republicans claim they agree with the President on the issue. But some Republicans are still holding middle-class tax cuts hostage simply because they want to cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires.

Here’s what’s going on right now: President Obama is asking Congress to move forward on a plan that would prevent 98 percent of American families from paying higher taxes next year. The Senate has passed that bill, and the President is ready to sign it — but the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives won’t even bring the bill to the floor for a vote. House Democrats have filed a petition that would force a vote if it attracts 218 signatures.

If a bill has enough votes to pass, Congress should vote on it and pass it. It’s a pretty simple proposition. And every Member of Congress who hasn’t signed on to keep taxes low for the middle class needs to hear from you.

Call your representative today and ask them to sign the petition in support of a vote. According to our records, here’s who you should call:

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
(202) 225-3931

Not your representative? Call the switchboard operator at 202-224-3121. Not sure who your representative is? Click here to look it up. []

Here’s a suggestion on what to say — feel free to improvise and let your representative’s office know why you’re personally supporting the President’s plan:

“Hi, I’m A. Michael. As a voter from your district, I support the President’s plan to extend tax cuts for 98 percent of American families — $2,000 a year means a lot to me and to middle-class families here in Florida. I urge Representative Ros-Lehtinen to sign the petition forcing the House to vote on the Senate-passed bill, and to vote “yes” if it reaches the floor.”

Once you’ve called your representative’s office, please report back and let us know how it went:

Let’s get one thing straight: If your taxes go up, Republicans will have made a conscious choice to let that happen. They’ll have missed the opportunity to prevent it, just to cut taxes for the wealthy.

Republicans need to stop using the middle class as a bargaining chip. If they fail to act, a typical middle-class family of four will see a $2,200 tax hike starting in a few short weeks. Middle-class families could face some tough financial decisions simply because Republicans didn’t want to ask the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans to pay their fair share.

That’s not what President Obama and you campaigned on, and that’s not what millions of Americans voted for just one month ago.

We know we can affect change in Washington when we raise our voices together. So pick up the phone and make a call — your representative needs to hear from you.
Here’s who to call, one more time:

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
(202) 225-3931



Stephanie Cutter
Deputy Campaign Manager
Obama for America

P.S. — Don’t forget to tell us you made your voice heard. Report back here.

As the folks at Daily Kos correctly note, campaigns like this don’t win friends in Congress as they don’t like to be inundated with phone calls … which suggests that the private talks with Speaker Boehner are not going well — hardly a surprise.

So here is how it went. I said my piece, not following the Obama script, and was politely thanked for my views by “Chris”. “We’ve been getting a lot of calls about this issue today,” he said.

What, I asked as if I didn’t know, was Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s position on the discharge petition. My feigned ignorance met equal ignorance (also feigned?) on the other side of the line: ‘I don’t know.’

How might I find out when the Congresswoman decides, I asked. ‘When the vote happens I guess,’ Chris answered.

Now, since I was calling about signing a discharge petition that wasn’t a very good answer. So I asked if he knew what a discharge petition was, and Chris claimed not to know. So I explained what a discharge petition is, and asked my question again.

‘I don’t know her position on this, I don’t work on those issues,’ said the dogged and still polite Chris. If he’s just an intern, he’s a real find. Everyone knows Ros-Lehtinen’s position: Hell will suffer from water solidification before she bucks her leadership and signs this discharge petition. But why risk annoying a constituent by telling him that?

In the end he offered me the email address of Ros-Lehtinen’s senior Legislative Aide, who I’m sure would just be delighted to hear from me. I don’t know that I’ll even bother.

Very hard to see what all that achieved. But I have to give props to Chris who, while being clueless or faking it well, was totally polite.

I submitted a very abbreviated version of the above to the Obama response site, and was oddly disheartened to be rewarded with an invitation to send him money.

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