Ask Congress was a weekly show produced by NBC News in New York, hosted by Ben Grauer and featured primarily members of Congress from the New York area. The concept behind the program was to give constituents from a particular Congressional district the opportunity to ask pertinent questions of his or her member of Congress. Novel idea, no? Transparency in government? Possibly. Accountability? Yes.
A few weeks ago I ran another segment from this series featuring Congressman Adam Clayton Powell and today it's Republican Congressman Frank J. Becker who represented the 3rd Congressional District of Nassau County. This one was originally broadcast on December 22, 1957. The subject matter ranged from Cold War issues to taxes and it's fascinating to listen to questions coming from plain regular folks, without spin or softballs and to get interesting answers in return.
Edmond B. Robbins: “Can we expect more Federal aid in Long Island, in order that we may . .can get a more realistic school tax rate throughout the area?”
Cong. Frank J. Becker: “Well, I say you could if you want to pay more taxes. In other words, you can’t get Federal Aid without paying for it. There’s no such thing as Federal Aid. The Treasury has no money except taxes that people pay into it. And after all, with New Yorkers paying 22% of all the taxes going in the Federal Treasury we only get 8% back for all kinds of aid and costs of government. So now if you want to pay more money in the Federal Government, siphon off the greater part of it to other parts of the country you’ll get a little back. But it’s going to be a question of tax. You can’t get it without paying for it.”
Politics and News it seems, was much different then.