Our Opinion: Good time for a Neal town hall
Special counsel Robert Mueller's testimony in Washington last week appears to have energized Democrats, with 109 House Democrats Monday calling for an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. The impeachment debate will likely dominate much of August, a month in which legislators who have returned home during recess in the House and Senate often host town halls with constituents.
This would be an ideal time for 1st District Rep. Richard Neal, a Springfield Democrat whose district encompasses the Berkshires, to host a town hall in Berkshire County to hear from constituents about impeachment and other issues under the purview of the influential chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Mr. Mueller's testimony didn't offer much that wasn't in his written report, but for those who hadn't read the report or paid close attention to media coverage of its release his words may have exposed them to the extent of the Trump campaign's efforts to work with a hostile foreign power to sway the 2016 presidential election and the determination of the president to obstruct efforts to expose those efforts. It is the opinion of The Eagle that the report is fodder for a presidential campaign that is well underway, rather than an impeachment campaign that will inevitably stall in the Republican-controlled Senate and may even cause a backlash that benefits the president.
This is essentially the position of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has nonetheless not ruled out an impeachment inquiry. Indeed, the House Judiciary Committee chaired by Rep. Jerry Nadler appears to have begun just such an inquiry. As a member of the speaker's leadership team, Rep. Neal generally supports Ms. Pelosi's positions. He has not expansively articulated his views on impeachment, and a town hall would give him that opportunity, as well as an opportunity to discuss his ongoing efforts to dislodge President Trump's tax returns, which he has kept hidden since the campaign. The town hall would also give Berkshire voters a chance to articulate their views on impeachment and the president's actions before their congressman.
The debate would not have to be confined to impeachment and related matters, nor should it. If Democrats are to defeat the president and gain seats in Congress they will have to go beyond opposing the president to offering ambitious programs of their own that appeal to voters. Health care would be an example of one of those issues, and it comes within the purview of Rep. Neal's committee. A discussion on "Medicare-for-all" and other health initiatives being discussed by Democratic presidential candidates would be worthwhile.
A Berkshire town hall would benefit both the congressman and Berkshire voters. With August arriving Thursday, we hope he will host such a gathering in the month ahead.
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