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The Recorder - Local counties get very little attention from Neal

After 32 years, Richie Neal’s district is the poorest in the Commonwealth and also has the most towns without high-speed internet. Since COVID-19, we now know why this is a necessity. Many people now work from home and might never return on site. They require high-speed internet as do students from elementary school through college.

He opposes Medicaid for All, claiming that so many people are happy with their current plans. COVID-19 reveals the flaws in employer-based coverage. If you lose your job, you lose your health insurance. He single handedly sank a bill eliminating surprise medical billing, which had bipartisan support in both houses and Donald Trump. It had the backing of insurance companies — as Neal disingenuously tried to use to debase the bill, but it also had the backing of consumer advocates, but not Neal’s considerable health industry donors, who presumably outspent his insurance donors.

He ranks last in the House for holding town halls or other events where constituents can state their views, ask questions — and expect answers. He has not held an event like this in years. He counts all the “visits” he makes throughout the district, but these are drive-bys: photo opps, ribbon cuttings, private meetings or walk-throughs. How can we expect a man who is afraid to face his constituents to have the intestinal fortitude to fight for them.

What about “all the jobs” he has created for the district? He has to go back 32 years for his list. His best days, which were never that great, are behind him. As chair of Ways & Means, he should be working on big, meaningful national projects and not using the backroom method of earmarks which trades pork with representatives from other districts. Doling out these goodies, many of them unnecessary, spends a lot of money that could be used for major national improvements. Defense is not a jobs program. It is a bloated waste of money where we spend more money than the next several countries combined (including Russia and China) These defense jobs provide none of the benefit to our communities that nurses, teachers, social workers, construction workers etc. — also jobs — provide.

He outright lied in the second debate when he denied taking money from corporations responsible for flooding our country with opioids. I challenged him on this in public following a 60 Minutes expose of pharmaceutical companies intentionally distributing opioids to places that were not medically legitimate, Cardinal Health and McKesson, Mr. Neal. He has taken money from companies who have been repeatedly fined by the government for unethical opioid practices. When asked why he didn’t return this literal blood money or divert it to programs that help addicts, he said they never lobbied him specifically on opioids. He had already built a $4.5 war chest but wouldn’t do the right thing.

These and many other examples of Neal’s disregard and disrespect for his constituents have one common underlying cause: money from corporate donors. He denies it, but that doesn’t pass the smell test. Like someone else we know, he says “no quid pro quo.” He stated in the debate that these corporations don’t give him money because they expect him to do anything, but rather they like what he does. Think about that. Is that any better? They know that they can count on him.

Look how defensive he was in the debate when asked about the political hit job on Mayor Morse? No one had directly accused him of personal involvement yet he continuously denied personal involvement. He did say that he would not tolerate any homophobic speech or action. Commendable, but does he condone lying and creating false accusations by his supporters in general? Just no homophobic slurs.

Anyone with an ounce of integrity who wants the electorate to believe that “he knew nothing” would have apologized for the bad behavior of his supporters and directed others to not engage in unethical behavior. Not Neal. Once again he was just concerned with trying to claim “no collusion” — another page out of Trump’s playbook.

Berkshire County and my own Franklin County get very little attention from Neal. Vote for Alex Morse.

Ken Eisenstein lives in Shelburne Falls.

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