Just got off the phone with Jim Billimoria, press secretary for Rep. Tom Price (R-Georgia).
Billimoria said the Congressman supports cutting the Advanced Technology Program. He said the cuts would save $721 million over five years. I asked him if the cut would be a total elimination of the program or just a reduction. He said he didn’t know. I asked him what the program was. Again he said he didn’t know, but suggested that I could look it up. I looked it up and found this article from last year that reads as though that cut was already made.
I asked him if the Congressman supported any other cuts. He said Price had voted earlier this year for a 1 percent cut to discretionary funding. I asked him how much total money that vote would have saved. Billimoria said he didn’t know. I asked him if it passed. He said he wasn’t sure. He then looked it up and said it hadn’t passed.
I asked Billimoria if the Congressman supported any of my suggested cuts. He said he didn’t know what those cuts were. I told him that I sent an email last week detailing the cuts, and Billimoria said he didn’t see it. I asked him if he could find it and call me back. He said he could find it and send a letter through the mail in response to my email. I asked him if he could just call me back with the response. He stressed that all of Price’s constituents get letters through the U.S. mail and that was Standard Operating Procedure of the office.
“We don’t do email,” Billimoria said.
I asked why? He said that was the policy of the office. He said the policy was in place before he arrived.
I have had several other staffers similarly refuse to give out email addresses or respond via email to their constituents. This seems like a vapid policy that has the effect of separating voters from their elected officials.
I believe this “letter in the mail” tactic is aimed at slowing down my efforts at getting Price to answer these specific questions. I think the specific cut Billimoria proposed wasn’t very well thought out (he couldn’t even tell me what the program was) and aimed only at trying to throw me a bone. I can’t update the porkbuster’s site with the information he provided. (Was it already cut? What is the program?) And Billimora didn’t seem interested in providing anything else.