Thursday, August 20, 2009
McCarthy's test: making next week's healthcare town hall meeting inclusive and based on facts, not emotion. Let's avoid the circus
As we head closer to next week's town hall meeting on health care reform, it occurred to me that Rep. Kevin McCarthy has a golden opportunity to rise above the circus-like atmosphere that has characterized other such meetings. The town hall is set for next Wednesday, Aug. 26, over at the Icardo Center at Cal State Bakersfield, and already more than 800 people have confirmed. There is little doubt that this will be an overwhelmingly conservative audience in tune with the market, and it's safe to say that most attendees are already dead set against any reform. Consider, for example, some of the responses the congressman got when he put out at feeler on his Facebook page. Some excerpts (with occasional spelling errors corrected):
"Guess what... the government will now choose what treatment is best (if any) for you. Also you will have to wait for critical care i.e. transplants. That's why so many Europeans and Canadians come here for treatment. I'm sure if you are rich enough you can hire a private doctor like in Europe or bend over like the rest of us working folks. Stop frivolous court action, lower doctors insurance costs and give them more money to take Medical and such patients.
"I have an idea on how to "reform" health care... illegals do not get free care. That would save loads of money and would discourage illegal immigration. Think about it, when the government gets involved in things the system bogs down. Ninety percent of the problems we as a society have would be better solved in the private sector.
"Well first things first. I think that it is only legal for an Immigration Officer to ask if someone is illegal or not. And for the papers and documents to prove it. Second.
"Kevin - Why is the majority party insisting on a program that won't work and we can't pay for? Are they brain dead?
"There are lots of things wrong with the health care bill, but the number one problem is that the federal government just doesn't have the authority to take over the health care system. The 10th Amendment was included in the Constitution for a reason, and things like the bail-outs, GM, and this health care bill are just the kinds of things that amendment was written for."
These kinds of comments are reflective of the feedback McCarthy has been getting, and they are certainly representative and valid. It would be easy for this thing to turn into a GOP love fest like a "tea party" of sorts, but that really doesn't serve the public interest. McCarthy's challenge will be to create an environment where both sides are welcomed and Democrats and those who support health care reform (and there are a few in town) feel comfortable enough to show up and speak their mind. Let's hope he does so. (Photo of McCarthy at the last GOP convention courtesy of Getty Images)