Ellsworth talks stimulus with local constituents

Thursday, February 19, 2009
Congressman Brad Ellsworth (right) motions to the back of the room as he and Mayor Sue Murray bring Wednesday's meeting to a conclusion.

He may be out of Washington this week, but 8th District Representative Brad Ellsworth is still thinking and talking about Congress's recently passed economic stimulus plan.

Only now it's with his constituents, not his colleagues.

Ellsworth made a stop at Greencastle City Hall as part of his third-annual Open Door Listening Tour Wednesday. As he took questions from local residents, the topic rarely strayed far from the failing economy and what elected officials are doing about it.

The congressman was quick to point out that he doesn't have all the answers and that nobody does. Exactly what course to take remains unclear.

"I think we're all scared right now. I don't think anyone has a clear-cut formula that says one plus one is going to equal two," Ellsworth said.

Lawmakers had to choose a path and follow it, though. With the economy in its worst shape since the 1930s, Ellsworth said he had to vote for the final draft of the stimulus bill.

"When the second version came around, we wanted to do something. No one wants to spend $780 billion of your money," he said.

In the end, he chose not to "sit around and do nothing."

It wasn't always that way, though, as Ellsworth voted against the bill when it was in the House of Representatives the first time.

"I saw things in that bill that weren't stimulative," he said. "There were a lot of things that I saw and wondered, 'How am I going to come back to Indiana and explain that to you?'"

But the bill still had to pass the Senate, where many of the questionable points were trimmed away. While House members were not given the 48 hours they were supposed to have to review the final version of the bill, in the end, he felt it had to be passed.

Having spent some time with the President Barack Obama on his recent trip to Elkhart, Ellsworth shared that Obama expressed his own regret that the bill had not been approached in a more bipartisan manner.

The congressman agreed.

"Maybe the better version would have been to go before the Republican Caucus before it was written and say, 'What do you want in it?'" Ellsworth said.

He added that in that case it would likely have included more tax cuts along with the spending. He added, though, it is the majority party that writes bills, and the Democrats had the votes to pass it.

The congressman also touched on several times on his efforts not to engage in the partisan fighting that many associate with Washington politics. When asked about the congressional leadership losing touch, Ellsworth let the crowd know that was why he was in Greencastle right then.

"Whether you voted for me or not, I am your closest link to the federal government," he said.

He also spoke of being one of the 49 "Blue Dog Democrats" in the House, who tend not to be as liberal as the party at large. With many of the Blue Dogs coming from conservative leaning districts, Ellsworth said they have to stay more in tune with what is going on in their districts than house members in so-called "safe" seats.

This group is also willing to voice its dissent with the party as a whole, and hopes to keep the party accountable to the people in its promise to change the way business is conducted at the Capitol.

"There's a group of us on the Democrat side who wrote letters to our leadership saying, 'Let's do it the way we said we were going to do it,'" Ellsworth said.

The overriding theme of Ellsworth's visit was of trying to be honest with his constituents. If he didn't know the answer, he'd say so. If the answer wasn't positive, he would still give it.

Asked about the state of Social Security, Ellsworth didn't hesitate.

"It's in trouble, " he said.

He added that fixing Social Security would involve tough choices. The government will either have to cut benefits to retirees or increase the Social Security tax on workers.

Neither choice is popular.

"We in Congress have been afraid to make that call," he said.

With a number of his staff members in tow, Ellsworth hoped to return to Washington next week with the questions and answers he's gotten from Indiana citizens during his week of traveling around the district.

He said what they have to say rates above what he has to say.

"When we ask for this job, along with it is the obligation to come back and tell you what's going on," he said. "I think it's important to get back here and listen to you all."

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  • It's a shame Mr. Ellsworth came to town the same night as the honors banquet at GHS because there are a few questions I sure would have LOVED to pose to our "represetative".

    Odd that Brad touts his "Blue Dog" credentials yet votes straight party line 9 times out of 10. BTW, MOST of the crap that was in the first bill he couldn't support, remains. To claim that most was removed and therefore allowed him to vote for it, was misleading at best.

    I wonder how he figured he would come back to Indiana and explain Harry Ried's hand writen earmark, added late at night just before passage, for the high speed rail system between LA and Vegas WE will be paying for.............Us,our grand children, and probably great grand children. That's 8 billion with a B folks....for the Senate leader. I wonder what we could do with 8 billion dollars here in Putnam County? Never collect property taxes again? Build a Mall of America clone to put thousands to work and draw revenue from consumers from all over the world? Naw....get those So Cal gamblers to Vegas faster to line Harry's homies pockets.

    Brad, how is 4 billion dollars given to ACORN going to stimulate the economy of Indiana.....much less Putnam County and the 8th district?

    Could you also explain to us why 145 million dollars are needed to insure the money is spent properly?

    How will the 50 million givn the NEA create jobs? More money for artists to put crosses in cups of urine? Money well spent!!!!

    Or how about the 300 million for golf carts?

    There is so much more it is scary.

    200+ economists can't all be partisan hacks and the voice of opposition to this boondoggle is increasing in number and volume.

    Woe to us and our children.

    -- Posted by Catie's Dad on Thu, Feb 19, 2009, at 10:01 AM
  • As a current resident of Southern California (64 degrees and sunny today, thanks for asking) I find it quite painful to think of how right-wing misinformation is slung around as fact, much in the same way I used to slop hogs for a certain Reelsville farmer years ago. Dear Catie's Dad, please stop listening to right-wing talk radio and what-the-FOX news. As I have read the bill, there is no money for an LA to Vegas train, no money for ACORN, no money for golf carts and virtually no facts in your posting. The corporate economic elitists, who for years have been trying to turn our democracy into a corporate plutocracy, have been highly successful in using the corporate media to scare the beJesus out of our citizenry for far too long. Do yourself a favor--READ THE BILL, and then ask yourself if Hannity, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Savage, Coulter and others are being honest with you. And after you've determined the answer to that question, ask yourself why you've chosen to be bamboozled for all these years.

    -- Posted by former_pc_res on Thu, Feb 19, 2009, at 11:08 AM
  • Well said Catie's Dad, I couldn't agree more. I got the same feeling when I read that he voted FOR the PORKULUS bill after all. Now, I see that the first vote against it was just window dressing, claiming fiscal responsibility. Yeah, right.

    In the end he HAD to toe the line for comrade Pelosi.

    Voters of the eighth district need to know, when Pelosi is the leader and a democrat is our representative, then she owns this district's vote in Congress. Period.

    -- Posted by davgreencastle on Thu, Feb 19, 2009, at 11:09 AM
  • The kind of fluff that people like former_pc_res spouts leads to the incredible mess that California is in. We all are being asked to support that state. I don't know about anyone else, I'm not really interested in doing that. How about being responsible for ourselves? It is astounding that someone "read the bill" and did not pick up on Harry Reid's train project.

    Since we are going to rip Fox News ect., maybe we should all believe in Chris Mathews for his fair and balanced approach to things.

    Watch these people, they will keep trying to push the "fairness doctrine" to shut up the opposition. Our children will pay for this mess if we don't step in.

    -- Posted by justasking on Thu, Feb 19, 2009, at 2:34 PM
  • To my fellow members of the 8th district, I ask you this: what would you have our Congress do differently? In what way would you have altered AFFA to better stimulate our nation's suffering economy? More tax cuts? Less spending?

    In the end, the stimulus bill is by no means perfect -- it perhaps might not even be big enough to rescue our economy from the worst collapse in decades. So believes a Nobel laureate economist, anyway (let me know and I'll be happy to provide a link). As a twenty year old, by no means do I relish the thought of another $800 billion in debt that my children, and their children, will be working to pay off years down the road. But the federal government had absolutely no option but to act, and act boldly.

    Tax cuts are clearly not the sole solution -- 8 years of cuts have not helped us avoid our current predicament. The bill that was signed into law yesterday is perhaps the best we could hope for given the obstructionism displayed by Republicans in the House and Senate (a bold political move that, if the economy rebounds, will cost them dearly). A compromise that, with a little luck, might have us back on our feet in a couple of years.

    By the way: the complaint concerning the Vegas rail system is totally fictitious -- the provision absolutely does NOT exist in the bill. If you've got evidence to the contrary I would appreciate it if you would cite your sources. Thanks!

    -- Posted by johnlocke on Thu, Feb 19, 2009, at 4:13 PM
  • Well said, johnlocke. justasking, you prove my point. Thanks. For instance, the only ones screaming about the "fairness doctrine" are the right-wing talkers. It's a completely made-up argument created by the imagination of those wonderful message manipulators at FAUXnews, mostly by the guy whose name rightly rhymes with "Insanity." There is not one single lefty talker who is pushing for the "fairness doctrine." Not one. Not Thom Hartmann, not Stephanie Miller, not Ed Schultz, not Randi Rhodes, not Mike Malloy, not Rachel Maddow nor Bill Press. You'd have to listen on-line in your area (or Sirius/XM) and I invite you to do so. Or check out Keith Olberman on MSNBC, or The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, or factcheck.com. Oh, and uh, READ THE BILL!

    Also, California gets back about 72 cents on every tax dollar sent to Washington, while Indiana receives more than a dollar for every dollar it sends in revenue. So, you're not "supporting" us, we're subsidizing you. And we passed our budget today, so we'll be bailing ourselves out. I do miss Indiana, but I have a hard time with the time change. Like when it's noon here in California, in much of Indiana it's 1956.

    -- Posted by former_pc_res on Thu, Feb 19, 2009, at 5:00 PM
  • John Locke should explain to us when Keynesian Economics have been successful? It is amazing that people seem to believe that this money will just appear. I noticed that inflation has reared its head as of today. I wonder why?

    On the fairness doctrine, I don't personally care what the left wing talkers have to say. Considering their ratings, few people do. However, several Democratic Senators have spoken favorably about it. I don't really worry about it though, Obama is unlikely to take that chance.

    I know we Hoosiers are very backwards. You know, clinging to our guns and churches. Did anyone see Rick Santelli on CNBC today? Even he understands that this stimulus is not going to sit well. This was from New York, not lowly Indiana.

    I can't wait to see the brilliance of the tax hikes ect. from the new California budget. If things are so great in California, why do we hear so much about people leaving because of the conditions?

    As a final note, it is really hard to imagine that John Locke would be supportive of the apparent tax policies of the Obama Administration. John Locke believed that a person should be paid for what they do.

    -- Posted by justasking on Thu, Feb 19, 2009, at 6:55 PM
  • justasking can you please name just 2 Democratic Senators or congressmen who have come out in support of the "fairness doctrine?" No? Didn't think so. Also, FYI, in cities where competing radio stations with equal signal strengths have both left and right-wing talk shows competing head-to-head, when it comes to ratings the left talkers are beating the righties in EVERY SINGLE MARKET. But you wouldn't know that because the so-called "liberal media" (really?) can't even get airtime in your market. The corporate media has its own interests and agenda to protect. You see, as a 48-state truck driver, I am able to have an abundance of access to both points of view, while you, unfortunately, are only exposed to one side. As the great Ray Stevens sang, "there is none so blind as he who will not see." I have no personal beef with you or anyone here, but it's really depressing to know that so many choose only to see one side of the story. Like it or not, the economic elitists who brought you supply-side Reaganomics (the Free Market will police itself--we don't need no stinking regulation) are the ones responsible for the current economic quagmire. While the righties are complaining now about an alleged $30 million to fund the study of marsh mice, they sure weren't crying foul about the $350 Billion shelled out to Wall Street rats.

    -- Posted by former_pc_res on Thu, Feb 19, 2009, at 9:28 PM
  • One other point. Why did Congress have to hurry this $793,000,000,000 spending bill with 1100 pages (that admittedly not one congressman or senator read, including any of our own) to a vote in just 16 hours of debate?

    Then the president didn't sign it untill four days later. Huh?

    What's in this thing?

    -- Posted by davgreencastle on Thu, Feb 19, 2009, at 10:31 PM
  • former_pc_res is quick to suggest he knows more than "we" do. However, a short list of Senators who have spoken in favor of the Fairness Doctrine" recently includes Tom Harkins,Iowa, John Kerry,Mass, Debbie Stabenow,Mich(wife of a former bankrupt "AirAmerica" Executive), Harry Reid recently refused to speak against it. Don't forget California Reps Nancy Pelosi and Anna Eshoo who also have spoken in favor of it recently.

    Personally, I am also appauled by the $350 Billion Wall Street bail-out. Liberals always seem to try to make it a situation of them really knowing more than everyone else. We heard a report of things going well in California. I would not be happy with a state that does not pay residents tax money they are owed along with holding out on paying state contractors. Is this where we are all headed?

    Finally, to suggest that left-wing radio beats out conservative talk in many markets is either very naive of blatantly dishonest. It does not.

    We the people will take this country back. There are too many good people for it not to happen.

    -- Posted by justasking on Fri, Feb 20, 2009, at 8:45 AM
  • Dvgreencastle, Justasking and small gov it would appear that a couple of Zeroman's lickspittle's have been asigned to murky up our little small town papers news blog when anyone gets out of line.

    For what it's worth..........

    This article alone details 3 Senators (one the Majority whip {{that's the second in charge John and pc}} that have spoken out for reinstitution of the Fairness Doctrine.


    This article not only shows that Harkin, as stated by just asking, is all for it but puts to lie the contention that Bill Press has not spoken in favor.



    This one has the horny hick from Hope, Former President Clinton, touting its return and has a link to audio.....so once again you needn't believe me.....listen for yourself.

    Oh and BTW Locke and pc.....not a single ounce of these s from Rush, Hannity or any of the others you claim we obtain our info from. Too bad you have let Keith Zeroman's lies make you look like a boob here today.

    Folks, I searched these few out in a couple of minutes.....simply by Googling "Fairness Doctrine". There were pages of links on this. Again, don't believe any of us......read, watch and listen for yourself and then deem who in this discussion is full of that stuff pc found himself in at that pig farm.

    PC and Locke tout one economist who favors this boondoggle.......while 200+....some Nobel Laureates......economists have stated this is insanity. The CBO of Obama's own admin has said it won't do what they say.

    Oh and lest I forget the topic at hand......Pretty Boy Brad is still full of crap and San Fran Nan the Botox Queen's lap dog.

    -- Posted by Catie's Dad on Fri, Feb 20, 2009, at 9:12 AM
  • Sorry...left out the last link......


    -- Posted by Catie's Dad on Fri, Feb 20, 2009, at 9:13 AM
  • I hereby concede that there are a handful of Democratic congressmen who do support the Fairness Doctrine, and that handful is a far cry from the numbers needed to do anything about it. That being said, Bill Press said "bring it on" as a joke in response to the rantings of Rush Limbaugh, who obviously hasn't gotten his illegally prescribed oxycontin in some time. Now we all know that if you or I had doctor-shopped in order to obtain obscene amounts of pain-killers like Limbaugh did not all that long ago, we'd still be in jail (especially if we were convicted in Putnam County and weren't connected in any way to the local law enforcement/ courthouse apparatus).

    "EVERYONE" was not "screaming" about the Wall Street bailout. Catie's dad liked it, and saluted like a good little Republican while the Rats raided the Treasury of We the People, all while handing out bonuses like Halloween candy to their employees. And please, can we stop with the personal attacks/schoolyard name-calling and stick to the point at hand, smaller-gov et al? Surely our local schools haven't failed you to that degree. My father still lives in your area and was famous around our house for saying "Don't be a sheep. Think for yourselves." When I see the venom and the herd mentality on display here it forces me to admit that I was wrong about the time change thing. Like when it's noon here in California, in much of Indiana it's 1984.

    -- Posted by former_pc_res on Fri, Feb 20, 2009, at 9:58 AM
  • I hereby concede that I appreciate Liberal thought and arrogance being exposed once again. I named several Senators and Congressmen who support the Fairness Doctrine. There are others.

    Your ranting about education and the intelligence of those who disagree with you is typical in my mind. Maybe the left wing National Education Association is responsible for many problems in our schools?

    Have a nice drive home as you listen to all of those fair and balanced left wing radio stations. It probably is hard to find many since they tend to go bankrupt.

    -- Posted by justasking on Fri, Feb 20, 2009, at 10:37 AM
  • I guess we are the only ones needing to keep it civil huh? You can chide us for the DST crapola and for being so far back wards we are 23 years behind you enlightened sorts in California, but we should have been taught better eh?


    Your credibility here is now garbage as you have been shown to be a liar. Not only did you lie and intend to obfuscate the point that the FD had been discussed quite openly and frequently by Dems, but you now attribute to me fallacious support of that garbage bailout of the greedy bums on Wall Street......those are your cronies not mine. They gave more to Dems this last election cycle than they did to Republicans. This can be shown too if necessary to show how much more you are willing to lie.

    And while Press may have stated "Bring it on" to taunt Rush......I don't necessarily agree with your contention but that is hardly the point.....you stated......."There is not one single lefty talker who is pushing for the "fairness doctrine." Not one. Not Thom Hartmann, not Stephanie Miller, not Ed Schultz, not Randi Rhodes, not Mike Malloy, not Rachel Maddow nor Bill Press."......yet when I supply a link SHOWING not only did Bill Press commend Harkin's efforts and tout the FD, but he STATED they should work together to bring it to fruition. Now, you can put out all the smoke and mirrors you want but folks can see with their own eyes EXACTLY what was said by both men. They needn't rely on your assessment of the situation. It's right there for all to see. Stubborn thing those facts.

    BTW, and I know this stings like a big hairy biotch, but Randy Rhodes has fallen and she can't get up!!! So we really can't tell how she is talking about this as she no longer has a show on the air. **** those ratings requiring station owners!!!!!!

    And please tell me what in wide wide world of sports (love ya Mel) Rush's drug use has to do with this debacle from Washington? Did Rush give some of your Dem buddies in Congress some of his dope so they could write this horrible mess? Perhaps they were sooo stoned on Rush's drugs that couldn't find the time to read this garbage BEFORE they voted on it.

    BTW, what happened to your dear leaders promises for govt. transparency? What happened to the 48 hours the bill was supposed to be available on line for all to view BEFORE it was voted on......thereby allowing for as the Framers intended......any of us to call our repective representatives and complain/congratulate???????

    I don't know how you do math in Califormia now but 2 does NOT equal 48. Maybe that's how y'all will balance your budget!!!!

    And you are right about something.......the herd mentality exposed here truly is an ugly thing and I think you shouldn't let Zeroman, Matthews and Maddow lead you around by the nose. Think for yourself. Stop relying on The Nation or MSNBC or Daily KoS or Dem U or Huff Po to formulate your opinions. Get out and rub elbows with some real people....you might find that there are many people in America who don't agree with you and Michael Moore.

    PS.......I guess we will see just how the cat ate the cabbage and find how sweet it was next week when the fine conservative Senator from South Carolina Jim DeMint introduces a bill squashing it for now and forcing all in congress to vote up or down. I guess we will find out if it as you contend simply a handful now won't we?


    -- Posted by Catie's Dad on Fri, Feb 20, 2009, at 11:04 AM
  • Dear Catie's Dad,

    "Randy Rhodes," Ozzy's guitarist, is quite dead. Randi Rhodes, talk show babe, STILL ON THE AIR. Who's the "liar" now? Wiping my feet as I exit here, but we might just need a hose.

    -- Posted by former_pc_res on Fri, Feb 20, 2009, at 11:21 AM
  • Catie is a lucky girl.

    -- Posted by justasking on Fri, Feb 20, 2009, at 12:01 PM
  • Thanks justasking, thanks very much.....but I am the lucky one.

    Catie is a joy and I am proud to be her Dad and see the fine young woman she has grown to be. Add to her three other great kids and you can see how blessed I am.

    And that doesn't even take into account my wonderful wife, my lovely mother, my other relatives and friends, this amazing country we share and the grace The Lord above bestows on me.

    I am lucky beyond measure.

    Perhaps that is why I fight so mightily and vocally about these issues that seem to be out of the Twilight Zone.

    I know in my heart of hearts the Framers are spinning in their graves at where we are and what we may become in short order if good men do nothing.

    -- Posted by Catie's Dad on Fri, Feb 20, 2009, at 1:47 PM
  • I see my retort to pc's contention that I lied when I claimed RandI Rhodes was not on the air has been scrubbed.....i guess it must have been due to the page content from another site that I cut and pasted. I guess. Well anyone here that missed it can simply Google Miss Rhodes and find her own site and read the message she posted detailing her "plight".

    The fact remains undisputable. Her show is not on the air.

    -- Posted by Catie's Dad on Fri, Feb 20, 2009, at 1:52 PM
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