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A handy guide to confront your lawmaker at a town hall

Congressman Justin Amash, right, speaks to people being

Congressman Justin Amash, right, speaks to people being turned away at the door because of overcrowding before the start of a town hall meeting at City High Middle School in Grand Rapids, Mich., Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017. (Mike Clark/The Grand Rapids Press via AP) Credit: AP

This past weekend some GOP lawmakers, but fewer than in the past, conducted town halls. There they face angry, energized voters who are out to defend Obamacare or implore lawmakers to investigate President Donald Trump. Some Republicans are choosing to hide from voters while others claim these are paid protesters. (Asking for a friend, how much does one get paid?)

If you, your family, friends or colleagues are turning out to “greet” your representative or senator, it is best to be specific in your question and not to interrupt with chants or outbursts. (Chant “Do your job!” between questions, if you are so inclined.) If you don’t get an answer say so, and if the preceding questioner did not get a response point that out. Most of all, make the most of the opportunity. To that end, here are some suggested inquiries, grouped by topic.

On ethics:

- Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., pointed out that China awarded Trump a valuable trademark just days after he confirmed the one-China policy. What are you prepared to do about a blatant violation of the emoluments clause, and if nothing, how can you claim to be a defender of the Constitution?

- Trump still owns businesses, including hotels that get money from foreign governments, and has a lease with the General Services Administration that prohibits a U.S. government official from profiting from the lease. If Republicans are not going to investigate these things, why do they deserve the majority with the power of chairmanships of committees?

- Why have you not demanded Trump release his tax returns? How do you know if he is indebted to or profiting from foreign interests?

- Republicans said they would act as a “check” on the executive, when it comes to ethics and conflicts of interest; does this only apply to a Democratic president?

On foreign policy:

- When are you going to vote on new sanctions against Russia?

- Did killing off the Trans-Pacific Partnership hurt our alliances in Asia? Did this just empower China?

- Are you prepared to vote for more defense spending even if it means the end of the Budget Control Act of 2011 (from which we got the sequester)?

- Trump has gotten into fights with Australia and Mexico. He’s scared our European allies. What are you doing to counteract his errors?

- Trump’s travel ban froze all refugees. They already go through a vetting of 18 months to two years. Why is this necessary, and hasn’t that part of the ban hurt our international image?

- If Trump reissues a travel ban that singles out Muslims, what will you do about it? Did the original ban hurt our alliances and image?

- The travel ban has nothing to do with loan wolves or Westerners who are radicalized. What are you doing about that?

On the budget:

- How are you paying for an Obamacare replacement?

- How are you paying for a tax plan that gives huge tax cuts to rich people?

- You’re cutting funding for parks and the NIH but not touching entitlements. Isn’t this irresponsible?

- There is no plan to address our existing $20 trillion debt. You complained about that during the Obama presidency, so why are you quiet now?

- You say you favor a balanced budget amendment. Where is your plan to balance the budget, provide tax cuts and increase defense spending?

Health-care reform/Replacing the Affordable Care Act:

- Will you promise my out-of-pocket costs will be equal or less than they are now?

- Will you promise my deductibles will go down and not up?

- If high-risk pools for people with pre-existing conditions run out of money what will you do?

- Are you going to kick off Medicaid people who received benefits from Medicaid extension under the ACA?

- You support health-savings accounts, but those help richer people with money available to contribute. What about people who live paycheck to paycheck and cannot afford to contribute?

- Will I get to keep my doctor?

Democracy/President Trump:

- Why aren’t you sticking up for a free press? Why haven’t you denounced Trump’s attack on the First Amendment?

- You said you’d work to curtail executive power, but why, then, are you cheering his executive orders?

- Is the White House operating like a “fine-tuned machine”?

- Trump lies about big and little things. Does that disturb you? Do you think he’s deliberately lying or he doesn’t have access to accurate information?

- How can we trust a commander in chief who lies constantly with the lives of our troops?

- Given his track record, is the president a reliable source of information? Do you trust what he says?

- If his campaign did have contacts with Russia and Trump lied about it what are you prepared to do?

- If Trump does have Russian investments and/or debts with Russian interests, what are you prepared to do?

- Do you feel comfortable with Trump’s ongoing attacks on the intelligence community? Why don’t you speak out?

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