Skip to comments.Town hall tension: Meeting turns ugly over health care
Posted on 08/09/2009 3:52:05 AM PDT by Man50D
Hundreds of people crowded into the BRIDGES building in Downtown Memphis on Saturday for a congressional town hall meeting that quickly deviated into a raucous shouting free-for-all, requiring extra law enforcement officers to watch over the scene.
The meeting, hosted by U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, was scheduled to address constituents' concerns about Social Security and veterans' benefits, but the real topic of the day was health care reform legislation being crafted by Congress.
Most people in the crowd of close to 500 were in loud opposition, although Cohen supporters held their own, waving signs that read "Health Care Now."
And as one heckler yelled, another shouted back, "Shut up! I want to hear my congressman. You shut your mouth!"
Within 15 minutes of the start of the event, a nearly nose-to-nose confrontation between individuals with opposing views became so heated they had to be separated as Shelby County sheriff's deputies and Memphis police officers called for reinforcements. No arrests were made.
With town hall meetings greeted with similar protests across the nation, Cohen was prepared.
"This is America, this is Memphis, Tennessee. Take two aspirin and come back in the morning," he yelled over out over the room.
Cohen invited area physicians to share their opinions on health care reform.
Dr. Neal Beckford was roundly booed when he said 50 million people were without health insurance.
However, he pointed out that as a society Americans need to decide what they want.
"And when we've decided what we want and how much it cost, we then need collectively to decide what we are willing to pay," he said.
Cardiologist Dr. James Klemis believes that ethically the poor must be taken care of. But this bill is being rushed and is too similar to Canada's and Britain's socialized medicine, he said.
"The problem is, government can't be the solution. It's got to be within the community," Klemis said.
Dr. Laura Bishop shared her disdain for insurance companies but is no fan of Washington's plan.
"Government getting involved in deciding what health care you are receiving is not the way to go," Bishop said.
Honesty, said Dr. Autry Parker, must be part of the conversation on health care reform.
"This issue will not be solved by people shouting, it will not be solved by people telling lies over and over again," Parker said. "Yes, I have read it and I do not agree with everything in it, but there is absolutely nothing in the bill that is going to euthanize grandma."
One of the signs waved by a plan opponent said "Don't tell my gigi how to die," referring to allegations that the bill would allow senior citizens to be euthanized, something the nonpartisan group FactCheck.org said is false. Cohen also denied that the bill would pay for abortions -- another claim made by opponents.
Roger Fakes, 70, said he sat quitely during most of the meeting, but Cohen's insistence that citizens would be able to keep their private health care drove him to his feet.
He argued that changes to private insurance would force citizens into the government plan.
"There are some of us old gray-haired folks that don't want the government involved in any of our business," he said.
The nearly all-white audience was not a snapshot of the mostly African-American 9th District that Cohen represents.
One of those who came from outside the district was Mark Mullis, 67, of Olive Branch, who was treated for cancer two years ago. He's afraid of what the plan will do to his insurance coverage, a combination of Medicare and retiree benefits.
"I know some people think a 25-year-old has a whole lot more to give. Maybe I've got seven or eight more years. To me all life is precious no matter what age," Mullis said.
Also from outside the district was bill supporter John Miles, 21, of Tupelo, Miss., who debated with opponents during the meeting.
"The purpose of this is to ask questions and receive answers. These people had all the answers," Miles said. "It's frustrating. It seemed that side in particular was doing a lot of yelling and screaming and booing. I just felt like yelling back."
Cohen is also proposing an amendment to the bill that would create a national pilot program on infant mortality, an issue of grave concern in Memphis, where infant-mortality rates are like those of a Third World country, he said.
Despite the boos, jeers and general disorder Saturday, Cohen said that after 33 years in public service he wasn't rattled.
"I expected it to be a lot worse," Cohen said.
“Maybe I’ve got seven or eight more years. To me all life is precious no matter what age,”
I doubt the Central Planners share this view.
Spin of the week.
I see he got his talking points from "just take a painkiller for your heart problems" Obama.
Yes, on one side of the aisle were the taxpayers of this country; on the other side were the union thugs, freeloaders, and recipients of the government largesse, who only want more and more.
Unfortunately for us all, the taxpayers are in the minority. They need to shut up and pay more taxes according to the Marxists. To each according to his needs, from each according to his ability.
Probably the same “grassroot” signs they picked up at the Florida meeting where they decided they couldnt use them.
All those arrested so far for violence at town halls are Obama supporters.
They are being taken care of under the current system. That is one of the biggest lies of the Democrat mantra on Health Care, that they would extend care to the uncared for.
I could not have said it better myself. You are absolutely correct.
(Outside the Carnahan Townhall)
I wonder if they get a bonus for getting busted, in addition to their normal astroturf check?
Their confirmation of O'Bolshevik's deskjet printed COLB is also fishy since the COLB as given to KOS and on their hilariously named "fight the smears" website is a horrible fogery: Obama's COLB is still a horrible fogery. Change you can believe in
Reading the comments section at the Comical Appeal web site, someone said there were 10 doctors there that spoke, 8 of which were strongly against Obamacare, and 2 that were only skeptical.
Does anyone really think that any one of these Democrats is going to pay the slightest attention to any opposition to this bill? The Democrats are for big government, first, last, and always.
IMO a lot of the energy and fear and anger are due to the idea that Obama and his supporters are simply taking control of America...whether the voters like it or not.
Healthcare is one of the first fronts, but if Obama succeeds here, the march to complete control continues with even greater force.
Once Obama controls your personal healthcare, he will dare you to protest or disagree. If he will threaten Jon Kyl as blatantly as he did (with letters to AZ Gov. Jan Brewer from Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, HUD Sec. Shaun Donovan, and Interior Sec. Ken Salazar threatening the withholding of stimulus moneys), one can only imagine how he might intimidate regular citizens.
We must win on healthcare!
“I expected it to be a lot worse,” Cohen said.”
Hold another one then!
These goon beasts were arrested. Where are their names, Locals, hometowns, and pictures? Where is the info as to whether or not they were “on the clock” at the time?
As the GA town hall meeting shows (where the Dem congressman accused a constituent who was also a doctor of being bused in from outside), these Dems have brainwashed themselves into thinking these aren’t their constituents, but rather people bused in from other areas.
They’ll go back to Washington and vote it in. Only Nov. 2010 will they realize they were their constituents.