Jenkins’ survey as phony as Iran’s election

Lynn Jenkins, our gal in Congress, mailed a survey on national issues to her Second District constituents last week asking their opinions as concerned citizens.
The multiple choice questions and answers were crudely designed to elicit particular responses. I guess her objective was to issue a statement saying that her voters agreed with her almost unanimously.
Here are samples:
“Do you support the President’s plan of cutting military spending for the purpose of debt reduction even if those cuts would hurt our ability to fight terrorism and protect the American people? Yes or No.”
“Should Congress permanently end the Death Tax? (Capital letters hers.) Yes or No.”
“Should illlegal immigrants be eligible to receive taxpayer-funded benefits like Social Security and welfare? Yes or No.”
“Should the government close down the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, even if that means bringing foreign terrorists to U.S. detention centers like the one in Leavenworth? Yes or No.”

NONE OF THESE questions can be answered intelligently with a yes or a no. None of these questions have enough companion information to be answered intelligently, period. All of these questions are designed to elicit answers that support bumper-sticker political positions Rep. Jenkins has adopted.
— Item: Everyone wants to protect the American people; no one wants to limit the nation’s ability to “fight” terrorism (assuming anyone knew where that battlefield was.) Therefore one must vote no. The follow-up assumption is that any additional military spending the Republicans in Congress propose is good, while all cuts proposed by the administration are damaging.
— Item: There is no tax on death. An estate passes tax-free to a surviving spouse. The federal estate tax this year exempts the first $3.5 million. Only the heirs of the very rich pay. Nevertheless, the estate tax brings in a substantial amount to help reduce the federal deficit each year because it does apply to the very largest estates. Historically, the U.S. and other Western nations adopted estate taxes as a lever against the development of an economic royalty such as those that dominated European countries before the 1800s. It is instructive that both Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, the two richest men in America, support the estate tax. Incidentally, current U.S. law exempts farms from the estate tax, regardless of the farm’s value, so long as it continues to be operated by the heirs as a farm. It is not true that families are forced to sell a farm to pay estate taxes.
— Item: As to those undocumented immigrants: Is it moral to tax a worker’s pay for 20 years or more and take an equal amount from his or her employer and then deny that worker the Social Security benefits those taxes paid for? U.S. employers have hired illegals by the millions since the 1980s and deducted taxes from their incomes as though they were citizens. Most would have become citizens if U.S. immigration law had been written more realistically and enforced. Our immigration mess was created every bit as much by those who hired undocumented workers, by a Congress that first ignored the growing problem and then refused to deal with it realistically as it was the immigrants who poured across our porous borders seeking a better way of life for themselves and their families. It is ridiculous to deal with such a complex, festering dilemma with a yes or no question.
— Item: Neither Rep. Jenkins nor any of her constituents knows whether any of the prisoners held at Guantanamo without being accused of a crime are dangerous terrorists. The information about them is sketchy. Many of the witnesses against them have not been proved to be credible. Much of the evidence against them is hearsay. While it is probably true that many have been radicalized by being held prisoner without a hearing or a trial for six years in harsh conditions, there is no way to predict how they would act if found guilty of a crime in a fair trial and imprisoned in a military prison in Kansas or elsewhere in the U.S. And it is an unfair criticism of the military prison at Leavenworth to assume that the jailers there would be unable to control any prisoner assigned to them. The key issue is whether the United States will follow its own laws.

SIMILAR comments could be made about many of the other questions this questionnaire poses. It should be read as a statement of her political positions rather than as an honest effort to sample the opinion of her constituents. We deserve better.

— Emerson Lynn, jr.