Reminiscent of the August 2009 town halls when members of Congress faced angry constituents over health care reforms, a public forum in Carbon County with Rep. Lou Barletta Wednesday night provided a glimpse of the strong emotions stirred by a Republican plan to alter Medicare benefits [...]
While he was going through a slide projector presentation about the Medicare changes proposed by House Republican Paul Ryan, a woman raised her hand.
“Excuse me, I’d like to get something off my chest,” she said, standing. “You seem to think that because I’m not affected I won’t care if my niece, my grandson, my child is affected. I do care. What you’re doing with this Ryan budget is you’re taking Medicare and changing it from a guaranteed health care system to one that is a voucher system where you throw seniors on the mercy of for-profit insurance companies…”
“You said nothing in the campaign about I’m going to change Medicare, now you voted for a plan that will destroy Medicare,” Linda Christman, 64, said. Christman is president of the Carbon County Democrats for Change, according to Barletta’s office.
“I won’t destroy Medicare, Medicare is going to be destroyed by itself,” Barletta said.
You can actually listen to the whole exchange. Barletta is a freshman Republican in a district held for years by Rep. Paul Kanjorski.
I’m sure that the fact of the woman’s affiliation with a local Democratic club will lead to people discounting this event. That wasn’t the case in the summer of 2009 when tea party protesters crashed Democratic town halls.
The difference is that in this case, there’s no hierarchical structure ensuring disruptions at all the town halls. This looks like it’s more based on individual initiative. That makes it more organic, but because it also makes it more disparate, outside of local reports it’s harder to find in the media. Eight tea party protesters can show up at the Capitol and be outnumbered by media 3-1, but seniors angry about the potential destruction of Medicare can’t get a trend story in the New York Times. Maybe some better organization from progressive groups would help.
The House is off for two weeks. Their members are engaged in town halls across the country. Let’s see if the pressure builds.