Earlier this week, Americans were invited to take part in a tele-town hall to discuss the political gridlock that has taken hold of Capitol Hill. More than 100,000 voters dialed in to the hour-and-a-half-long conversation with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and some of nation's top economists.
“This is a critical moment in our history,” Schultz said in a statement after the tele-town hall. “Americans are frustrated over the hardship being caused as a result of the partisanship, lack of leadership and gridlock consuming Washington. The status quo must be challenged and a comprehensive bipartisan debt plan is necessary to restore faith in the economy and government."
The callers were asked to vote on some issues concerning partisan politics and the impending debt reduction package. A whopping 88 percent of the callers agreed that partisan politics are a problem in the U.S. and 79 percent of the callers say they would feel better about the state of the nation if legislators came up with a bipartisan debt reduction package.
"The voices we heard on the phones tonight from left, right and center, reaffirmed the core idea that hyper-partisanship is hurting our country because it is stopping us from solving the serious problems we face," said John Avlon, of No Labels, the group that organized the tele-town hall. "We need to reason together and build on common ground to move America forward. Our conversation tonight was another step in changing D.C.'s dysfunctional culture. The two parties may be polarized but the vast majority of the American people are not, and I hope Washington heard us loud and clear."
One of the apparent kings of partisan politics, Tea Party sweetheart U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-8), has made a big deal about his decision to snub the President by failing to attend his highly-anticipated jobs speech this evening. But some of Walsh's Republican cohorts say the partisan move goes too far.
"The joint session of Congress is in the Constitution," said U.S. Sen Mark Kirk (R-IL), according to the Sun-Times. "Even if you campaigned against [President Obama] you respect the office."
"I thought through it once I heard what Joe said," Hultgren told the Courier-Times. "But I think it’s important for me to hear what the president has to say so that we are prepared to move something forward. I sat through a lot of State of the State addresses that I wasn’t really that excited about, but I knew that was part of my responsibility when I served in Springfield."
One of the two Democratic candidates for the 8th congressional district, Raja Krishnamoorthi, called Walsh out for his failure to attend Obama's speech and challenged the congressman to a debate on the jobs crisis tonight after his small business forum. Krishnamoorthi, a small business owner in the district, has been invited to and will attend Walsh's forum, which is set to take place at the same time as the President's speech.