ITHACA, NY – Earlier this week, a number of Tompkins County residents received a “2015 Official U.S. Government Survey” that has some of its recipients bristling.

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You can read and respond to the survey in its entirety on Congressman Reed’s website.

Mike Lane, chair of the Tompkins County Legislature, said he was “awestruck” that “the questions were so slanted.” He cited question 9 as being particularly egregious.

It reads: “Should Congress repeal, reform, or replace Obamacare as it is now?,” with the possible answers being: “Repeal, Reform, Replace or Unsure.”

Lane said, “The Obamacare question was like asking, ‘Have you stopped beating your wife yet?’ Just by acknowledging the question you were saying you didn’t like Obamacare.”

Lane added that Reed should be focusing on getting real meaningful answers, not just getting his constituency to “tell him what he wants to hear.” He also expressed annoyance that the survey was prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense, a process known as franking.

We reached out to Congressman Reed’s office and received this response from Brandy Brown, Communication Director for Reed’s office:

“Our office did send out an official survey in order to gather feedback from our constituency.  Tom strives to be accessible and has held over 180 town hall meetings since taking office in order to accurately represent the views of his constituents. 

This survey is another way we can gather feedback from a much larger audience than our traditional town hall formats.  As you indicated, the survey does have questions on a variety critical issues facing our nation including the future of Obamacare, our national debt, Social Security, national security including the role of the NSA and the recent nuclear agreement with Iran, among others.

Our goal is to more accurately represent the people that we serve and creates a starting place to develop  that dialogue. I would highlight that participation is voluntary and that information is expressly included within the material.”

Reed’s survey was also taken to task in an editorial in the Ithaca Times. In addition to targeting the Affordable Care Act question, the Times also calls out a question about welfare that asks, “Do you believe able-bodied adults with no dependents should have to work or perform community service before receiving federal welfare assistance?”

Says the Times: “Our Congressman is using an official U.S. government survey document to suggest to his constituents that there are layabouts receiving ‘welfare’ who should be made to work or do community service to get it. No such people exist, except in the febrile imagination of Toms Reed and his staff.”

Here are some other notable questions from the survey:

In general, should the federal government be more involved or less involved in the daily lives of Americans? More Involved / Less Involved / Unsure

Do you support efforts for immigration reform which would curb illegal immigration while creating a pathway for illegal immigrants obtaining legal status? Yes / No / Unsure

Do you support the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to drive down energy costs and promote American energy independence, provided it is done safely? Yes / No / Unsure

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at msmith@ithacavoice.com, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.