Over the summer, the loudest voices at town hall meetings belonged to people who opposed health care reform — and they were often pushed to speak out by lobbyist-run organizations. Instead of honest debates on the issues surrounding health care policy, there was a spectacle of irresponsible lies, shouting, and even reports of violence, creating a narrative that the public opposes substantive health care reform put forth by President Obama and congressional Democrats.
The majority of Americans who do favor health reform are beginning to push back. With the media’s attention back on Congress in Washington, many far right protesters have lost interest in showing up and making a spectacle. The people left are those who are actually engaged in the health care debate, and they’re sick of partisan antics.
At a town hall meeting in Virginia yesterday, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) faced constituents who were upset that Republicans haven’t put out any real health care proposals:
Richmond resident Ben Ragsdale demanded to know how Republicans were going to expand access to healthcare if they have only a four-page list of bullet-points as their plan.
“What is your substantive proposal to meet these real everyday problems that people have? Where’s the beef?” Ragsdale asked, triggering applause from the crowd.
Marlise Skinner, a registered nurse who has dealt with medical insurance issues for years, also pressed Cantor. Skinner told him that “the public option seems to be the best that’s out there so far … what is the alternative out there that would truly control costs, because I’m hearing a lot of spin but I’m not hearing what you would do to control it?”
At a recent town hall meeting in Kansas, Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R) claimed that Democratic health proposals would “determine what every doctor in America will make.” While he may have gotten away with that claim over the summer — when his audience would have been stacked with right-wing loyalists — this time, his audience cut him off with “outbursts of moans, gasps and laughter.” Watch it:
At another recent town hall meeting, Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) told a story about a woman whose unborn son had a heart defect and claimed that under the public option, “her son would not have been born.” The crowd responded by booing the lie.
Blue Girl has a report from a health care town hall “done right.”