How Congressman Reichert Uses Advantages of Incumbency to Reach Voters

Monday night US Representative Dave Reichert’s Mercer Island office was open until 9 PM helping seniors sign up for the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefits Program. Congressman Reichert is running for re-election in Washington’s 8th Congressional District. He is facing a strong challenge from Democrat Darcy Burner.

Reading his press release from last Thursday one almost could conclude that the Republicans in Congress passed this program as part of their re-election strategy. Make the program so complicated that Congressman Reichert has to have an:

“ongoing effort to assist seniors during the sign-up period. In addition to keeping his office open late, Congressman Reichert has sent over 125,000 pieces of mail to constituents that explains the program and provides sign-up information. He has made over 40,000 phone calls to seniors in his District about the program. He has held 16 workshops, helping seniors to sign-up and giving them access to the program’s experts.”

In an April 10, 2006 press release he announced workshops in Eatonville, Orting, Carnation, Bellevue and Boney Lake.

On May 3, 2006 , he announced additional workshops in Eatonville and Renton.

All this of course is paid for by the taxpayers. What I found intriguing was that “He has made over 40,000 calls to Seniors in his District” One has to wonder how he was able to get anything else done during this time in Congress or even have any time to spend with his family.

Assuming he only spent 2 minutes per constituent, which is short considering how absurdly complicated the program is, it would comprise some 1333 hours of his time. At 8 hours a day that’s some 166 days. If he did this for 5 days a week, he’s now spent some 33 weeks talking to Seniors or over half a year just on this one issue.

He must be getting tired. Maybe that’s the reason his press release makes no mention of extending the sign up time without a penalty. In fact one has to wonder why there is any penalty at all for signing up later. Isn’t this program supposed to benefit Seniors or is it meant to punish Seniors?

Of course we all know this program wasn’t really meant to help Seniors that much or it would have allowed for bulk buying of drugs to reduce costs to Seniors. Because in point of fact, the legislation is really a Prescription Drug Company Price Guarantee Act.


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