How out of touch is Missouri Republican Rep. Billy Long? For starters, speaking about the sequestration cuts taking effect, he claimed that his constituents not only weren’t feeling any effects but that they actually want more sequester cuts.
Speaking without any actual information, the representative said to Missouri’s KOLR10 News, “The people that I’ve talked to seem to be doing well. In fact…They want to see more.”
The shortsightedness of Long’s comments cannot be overstated as the $85 billion in cuts are only just now taking effect. Food pantries have been forced to close their doors, Courts have stopped hearing cases on Fridays, Meals on Wheels is drastically reducing the number it will serve and while on the federal stage it may not be evident that the sequester pinch is on, local governments cannot deny the effect.
Unless you’re Billy Long and you’re flippant about the struggling of the less fortunate, then you couldn’t care less. The Head Start program in Long’s community, which provides services to low-income families, went so far as to send press releases to both of Long’s offices (D.C. & local).
Long said, “We haven’t seen any measurable effect here at all.”
But what could account for this Republican’s blind ignorance? A Pew Research Center Poll, performed in February of this year, suggests that while many like the idea of spending cuts, when asked about specific programs, people are less likely to support the cuts. The findings of the poll fit perfectly with Long’s and many in the GOP’s behavior of ignoring reality.
“Congressman, is your community suffering?”
“What about the programs in your community that are experiencing spending cuts, no longer able to offer the same services?”
“There aren’t any programs in my community experiencing spending cuts because I refuse to acknowledge evidence that contradicts that notion.”
The above dialogue is not from an actual interview, though you’d be forgiven if you thought it could be.
While the people he is supposed to represent are dealing with the sequesters cuts, Billy Long couldn’t be bothered to pay attention to the letters he was being sent or the stories in his local news. They would have contradicted the conclusion that he had already come to: that the sequester cuts are a good thing, despite the unignorable facts.
Joshua Schwitzerlett is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.