With public opinion of Congress hitting historic lows, what's it like for a congresswoman to come home and face the voters?
U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, on Friday got an earful from constituents in separate meetings in Lawrence and Lecompton.
And although the venues were vastly different -- one a high-tech classroom at Kansas University's pharmacy school and the other Lecompton's historic community building -- a similar theme emerged from those attending the meetings: Republicans and Democrats must compromise for the nation to move forward.
At the meeting at KU, Bruce Johanning, a retired Army officer, said compromise "is the American way." He added, "I have seen people on the right and left saying, `I will not compromise.' " He said without compromise, the nation will fall into totalitarianism.
In Lecompton, where nearly 100 people showed up, an elderly man stood and told Jenkins his 401(k) account took a beating after the congressional fight over raising the debt ceiling.
When Jenkins responded that the stock market continues to have problems, the man said, "It is if you guys don't compromise."
To compromise or not
At the KU meeting, where about 60 people attended, Jenkins, who in opening remarks touted the House Republican budget and tax plan, was asked if she would compromise.
Jenkins, whose 2nd district includes the western part of Douglas County, said members of Congress are pressured on the left and right by organizations that tell them not to compromise.
She said Moveon.org lobbies the Democrats and Republicans are lobbied by the Tea Party, which she said doesn't "even like the term compromise. They don't even like the term common ground."
Jenkins added, "I have always been willing to work with everyone."
But earlier this week, Jenkins was criticized by some after she said at a town hall meeting in Pleasanton that her constituents didn't want her to compromise. At that meeting, she said, "The people that I represent have made it very clear to me in the town halls that we've done and the telephone town halls and the polling data that we have, that they do not want any compromise."
On Friday, in both Lawrence and Lecompton, Jenkins complained about the current level of political discourse in Washington, D.C. and said that it reflected what is going on across the country.
"The American people are quite polarized these days and angry and I think you see a Congress that reflects the American people. We are polarized and angry," she said.
Touts Republican plan
She said the House Republican plan, which would cut the highest corporate and individual tax rates and makes changes to Medicare and Social Security, which would reduce benefits for some, is required to get control of the national debt.
Jenkins said the United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world, but one man at the meeting said the wealthiest Americans and U.S. corporations pay much lower tax rates than average Americans.
Jenkins said that is because they take advantage of loopholes. She said the tax code needs to be overhauled to remove these loopholes.
She also said federal regulations on businesses were also a reason for economic problems. "The regulators are off the chain," she said.
Jenkins also predicted that the federal health care reform signed into law by President Barack Obama will be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court or repealed "if the landscape in Washington changes."