Sean Duffy (copy)

U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy

In defending President Trump and the recent tax overhaul during a town hall meeting in Hayward April 5, Congressman Sean Duffy claimed that millionaires would probably say they had not gained much from the new tax reform law, but that they still supported it since it enhanced the economy and helped middle-income Americans.

Come again?

That was one of several careless and incorrect statements casually tossed to the crowd by Duffy at the Flat Creek Eatery, exhibiting a condescension toward his constituency for which the U.S. representative has thus far escaped accountability. That may all change next November, as a number of recent special elections throughout the nation won by Democrats have shown.

Surely Duffy is aware, for example, that calculations for the new tax code show that families earning less than $25,000 per year will get an average tax cut of just $60, while middle-class Americans making between $50,000 and $75,000 will get approximately $890. However, those with an income of $1 million or more will get an average cut of nearly $70,000, all according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

So Duffy's story about millionaires grousing about their “sacrifice” in supporting the new tax bill seems like a bit of ad libbing, or going off script, to fool and mollify the voters. Wonder where he gets that from?

His example of unhappy millionaires was but one of many of Mr. Duffy's hypotheticals at the town hall gathering.

When one individual at the meeting expressed concern about rising health care costs, Duffy parroted his party's fix of sticking people with pre-conditions into “high risk pools” to make coverage cheaper for the healthier majority.

A high-risk insurance pool is, essentially, a dumping ground for people with medical issues. Such a pool is exorbitantly expensive, while it offers skimpy coverage with a lengthy list of exceptions to what the company will pay for. It has lifetime limits on payouts, along with astronomically high deductibles, according to The Commonwealth Fund, and independent organization that advocates for better health care.

Again, Duffy must be aware that the median age of his constituency in Sawyer County is 50 and rising, with a concomitant annual increase in the number of citizens with medical concerns. Perhaps he was banking on his audience's unfamiliarity with the proven worthlessness of the slick-sounding “high risk pools.” Or else maybe the entire matter of health care is a lot harder than Duffy thought. Wonder where he gets that from?

Speaking of which, President Donald Trump was on the mind of town hall attendee and military veteran Gordy Zimmerman, who asked Duffy what was to be done about “fake news,” Russian trolls, and Trump's attacks on institutions like free speech and free press.

At which point the Flat Creek audience must have sat back in admiration of Congressman Duffy's sleight of hand, as he contorted logic to equate eight years of President Obama's virtually scandal-free administration with 12 months of what former FBI director and Republican James Comey described as Trump's “forest fire.”

“I look at this president,” said Duffy. “He won fair and square and, guess what, I had people who said Barack Obama should be impeached. ‘Why doesn’t the Congress impeach Barack Obama? High crimes and misdemeanors,’” said Duffy.

Lest it expose his attempt at false equivalency, Duffy failed to mention that Obama was not investigated, as Trump and his administration are today, for: 1. Collusion with a foreign power (and a minimum of 70 secret meetings between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials, which many initially lied about). 2. For attempting to cover it up (Trump personally writing a fictitious report while aboard Air Force One to conceal the real purpose of the secret meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort with Russian officials). 3. Obstruction of justice (asking Comey to drop the investigation of Michael Flynn, and firing Comey when he refused). 4. Felonious violation of campaign finance laws (as Trump's attorney Michael Cohen admitted paying $130,000 in hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels less than a month before the election).

When a Solon Springs man reminded Duffy of his past statement that Congress would keep Trump from going crazy, the congressman responded with grandiose claims: “If you call crazy crushing ISIS (radical Islamic terrorists) and unemployment down and better border security and energy independence and money flowing back into our country, if you call that crazy, I’ll take crazy every day of the week.”

Which must also be what he thought about his interrogators in Hayward that day. Wonder where he gets that from?

Contributing columnist for Hayward's Sawyer County Record, David McGrath is emeritus English professor, College of DuPage, and author of "The Territory."

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