Karlsruher: Open Letter to U.S. Rep. Reyes
by David Karlsruher
Posted on September 3, 2009
Dear Congressman Reyes,
It’s been tough August vacation for you from what I have observed. Dodging unfriendly forums and lining up friendly ones will take a lot out of your staff … I mean you. I must sympathize with you and the strain put on your shoulders as you waved around a copy of the 1,000 page health care bill at the Pearson forum. A bill you have yet to admit reading. I don’t know what’s harder work, reading the bill or carrying it around.
I must admit it’s quite a different scene for you. You’ve never faced much opposition from the people of El Paso. It’s been a nice ride until recently for the 13 years you’ve served as our congressman. Now you have these pesky “tea baggers” showing up everywhere questioning your policy positions and knowledge of current legislation. I bet that’s annoying and if King George III were here today he would sympathize with you and President Obama. He went through this too.
By the way, please thank whoever on your side of the aisle started calling us “tea baggers.” The idea to associate people who attend “tea parties” in protest of government policy with a crude technique of locker room hazing that is considered sexual assault in most states was a good one. It gave us the signal that we would never be taken seriously by your team and only strengthened our conviction that all of you need to be replaced.
I know it’s not a pleasant task dealing with an angry electorate. How you handle yourself when confronted with their issues is essential to your survival in the upcoming election. A good rule of thumb is to respect all sides of the argument even if you vehemently disagree with some of the parties involved. Apparently you’re missing both of your thumbs.
When a reporter from a local daily print news outlet asked you what you thought of the people who gathered in a Northeast park to have a “tea party,” you responded "I feel sorry for them because they are so out of touch."
Out of touch? We’re the ones out of touch? I’m not sure you have that correct Mr. Reyes.
Let’s examine your reality here for a minute and see if it matches up with your constituency’s reality.
You’re one member of an elite club containing 435 total members. Membership in this club has its advantages.
You make $174,000 a year to work four days a week with two months vacation each year. You are currently receiving one pension from the United States government and when you decide to, or are forced to, leave office you will continue to receive your full salary ($174,000) and benefits on top of your current pension for the rest of your life. And let’s not forget, you vote whether or not to give yourself a raise each year. Must be nice.
Your benefits outside of your direct compensation make even the wealthiest CEOs envious. Your health care is dirt cheap, available to you instantaneously world wide and it is the best money can buy [link]. You do not wait in line for kidneys, livers or other organs like we do. Of course dental is included along with eye exams for no extra cost. And like I mentioned above, you can’t beat the retirement pay and the paid vacations.
Speaking of vacations… You have access to a fleet of jets maintained and operated by our military at the taxpayer’s expense. Because you only work four days week with Monday being a day where no votes are to take place, you are free to move about the world on taxpayer funded “fact finding” trips that operate more like vacations than work. These are officially called “CODELs” by members of congress (http://www.c-span.org/guide/congress/glossary/codel.htm). The good news is that your family is allowed to go with you for free as well. If you want more people to come along you can dip into your “leadership PAC” funds and pay their way too. Your leadership PAC’s name is “Best PAC.”
If you’re not familiar with how that works Mr. Reyes, I’ll explain. Because the laws became too restrictive with what you could spend your campaign dollars on, congress had to find a way around those laws. “Leadership PACS” were their way around the constraints put on campaign expenditures. Because you are a member of that elite club of 435 individuals, people hand you tens of thousands of dollars just talk to you. A lot of that money goes into your “leadership PAC,” which allows you to use that money for just about anything you would like. In the 2008 congressional cycle you raised $121,550 for Best PAC. [link]
Not a bad little pot of cash that isn’t taxed or counted against your income, but available to you as if it were your own checking account.
By protocol your life is more valuable than mine in the event of an emergency. This means that during any emergency there will be more effort put towards saving you than saving me. You might remember Rep. William Jefferson’s use of two National Guard trucks and one National Guard helicopter during the hurricane Katrina disaster to check on his vacant personal property.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that you spend nearly $1 million annually on staff. The amount you are allotted to spend on staff is not tied any measure of performance. If your office does nothing for an entire year but play trashcan basketball with constituent letters it will have no effect on the amount of money made available to you the next year. Success for you Mr. Reyes is not based on how hard your office staff works, but how hard your campaign staff works instead. Either way you have a cushion of assistants to provide you with transportation, cover, answers, alibis and excuses at a moment’s notice. You have a well dressed entourage of college educated people dedicated to making you look good at all times and it costs you NOTHING.
The world you live in is quite different than ours as you can see.
In contrast to your reality I’d like to introduce you to what I know as an “out of touch” tea party organizer and attendee.
The “out of touch” people who gather to protest at these tea parties are generally middle class Americans who do not make $174,000. However, given the opportunity they would like to earn that much if not more. They believe that opportunity best presents itself when you and your 434 other club members step aside and let them engage in the capitalism this country was found on. Don’t worry, we’ll continue to pay you even if you do less than you do now. We’d be happy if you extended your vacation to year round given the damage you’ve done so far this session.
These “out of touch” people are not boarding airplanes for fancy vacations in far away places. They take their kids to the park and set up tents for campouts in the backyard in place of their usual vacations. You see, we’re losing 500,000 jobs a month in this country and if they haven’t already lost their job, they’re worried they might. Money for vacations now go into emergency funds aimed at keeping them afloat if the economy gets any worse. You might want talk to some of these “out of touch” people and learn how to do without during hard economic times.
We’re so “out of touch” that when we read that we’ve spent ourselves into $1 trillion dollars in debt as a nation it scares us. We think a trillion of anything is a lot. In this case we think you’ve leveraged us beyond what we can recover from if action isn’t taken now to reverse the damage you’ve done. We’re not economists with fancy degrees from fancy universities in fancy cities on the east coast, but we do have common sense and that sense tells us that spending more than you have to a degree of $1 trillion dollars is a bad idea. We also have a suspicion on who you are going to tap to pay all that back and that person looks a lot like us.
We are the type of people who have to make ends meet or face losing everything we have. We’re mad that when our spouse lost his or her job and we couldn’t make our credit card payments that you handed those very credit card companies and banks billions of our tax dollars so they could continue harassing us over the phone day and night. It did not help your cause when we later found out that the companies receiving the biggest bailouts were the president’s biggest campaign donors.
I could go on forever about who we are, but you’ll know soon enough.
It is important that you realize that we are not “out of touch,” Mr. Reyes. We’re the people who make this country great. We’re the people tasked with steering you back in the right direction and our little “tea parties” are a part of that strategy. Get used to them because they are only going to grow in size and influence.
Dismiss us at your own peril Mr. Reyes. We have an opportunity to take all the perks of your “out of touch” lifestyle away next fall.
David Karlsruher pens the blog Refuse the Juice, voted Best Political Blog in the 2009 El Paso Magazine Reader Survey and is a contributor to Newspaper Tree. To contact him directly, send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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