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I just came back from a healthcare town hall held by Jay Inslee, WA-01. I'm in the adjacent 8th, but for some reason Dave Reichert (R in an almost 50-50 district) doesn't want to talk about his plans for healthcare reform. Fancy that.

The meeting was clearly majority pro, but the antis were a large minority. Two major take-aways:

  1. Our side is winning, organization-wise.
  1. The opposition is now focused on the deficit.

More, and pix...and now update below the fold

It was a full, and hot, high school gymnasium.

They let us out-of-district visitors in when they knew there would be room, and allowed us to submit our names for the question ballot (my name didn't come up). There were few young people in the crowd.

Lesson 1: we are winning, organizationally.

HCAN had over a hundred fullsized posters for us to wave. Planned Parenthood and others were also equipped. There wasn't one "professional" sign from the other side; plenty were hand-lettered with the usual slogans.If anyone is astroturfing now, it's us. Although we did have our share of hand-made.

Rep. Inslee started with a brief description of the House bill and the process. I was unfortunately sitting with a bunch of yahoos who jeered  Inslee for many of his opinions. I engaged them in some brief debate of our own. Insless is pro-public option, and was involved in markup of the House bill (so a shout of "Read the Bill" fell rather flat). There was only one shout of "Liar!"

Questions from the floor were selected equally from ballot boxes intended for people self-described as pro/anti/neutral. Quite honestly, even the anti questions were pretty fair (only the yahoos calling out from the bleachers were insisting in death panels).

The greatest illumination came from someone who was struggling to describe himself as politically neutral, and was concerned about the deficit. Inslee tried a lame answer about Bush and Wolfowitz's war cost projections, and also argued that the bill was deficit-neutral. It didn't help. This crowd, which seemed pretty typical, is riled up about the deficits. Suddenly, after the past 8 years, deficits matter and if this crowd is anything to go by it is the one thing that will kill the plan.

We need a new message about the fiscal value of reform.

Sorry I didn't get to this earlier; I felt unwell after another commitment yesterday:

  1. To Mccheerful: there were fewer than 20 of us from out of district. We were held back until just before the start.
  1. To Vincamajor: I think Mclallan was chosen because of the New Yorker article, although he didn't bring that up.
  1. About the deficit vs personal debt: he did use the word "investment" once, which brought some scoffing from behind me, but I wish he had developed that some more. You can address the self-interest crowd by pointing out that a healthy population is a productive population, although I don't like resorting to the utilitiarian argument to support a moral objective.
  1. Defending a deficit by attacking the Bush deficits' while partisan fun, dodges the question. The attacks were out of tune with the rest of Inslee's approach. I understand he was trying to gain credibility, but that message was lost. And the yahoos behind me responded to me: "Bush was an idiot too"

Originally posted to UncleDavid on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 04:49 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Nice pictures (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      myboo, RosyFinch, smileyman

      I just posted myself!  Two minds with about the same typing speed, though I have no photographic skill.  I'd be curious as to what the yahoos were yelling, it was hard to pick some of it out.

      And did you think his Iraq war answer was lame?  It might have been a little bit off topic, but still made a pretty good beginning to a rhetorical point about expenses budgeted for, and that we attempt to pay for (like health care) and ones we don't, Iraq War and Medicare drug benefits.

  •  Wonderful news, cut through the noise (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Creosote, Fury, smileyman

    and lets gets healthcare done. Its the only way American workers can compete with the rest of the world.

  •  Of course this bill is deficit neutral (5+ / 0-)

    And in the long run will drive down costs, but you're right this needs to be brought home in nice, easy to understand terms.

    Thanks for the report.

    Classical Music Mayhem

    by smileyman on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 04:53:53 PM PDT

  •  Sounds like they're changing the subject (5+ / 0-)

    to the deficit because with all of Teddy's fine words in the media over the weekend they're realizing how ugly the "I won't pay to help my neighbor" shrieking sounds.

    (Except for the one woman in your picture--"Pay for Your Own"--who apparently hasn't gotten the message).

    We'll need to come prepared with stats on the Bush deficits for the next townhall.  Also the deficit-neutral provisions of Obama's reform proposal.

    Thanks for posting this news UncleDavid.

  •  How about jobs? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Creosote, sabredance

    Although I know I'm being vague here, it seems to me that HRC will provide jobs.  How?  By lowering premiums and deductibles, people would have more spendable income.  Since we're (unfortunately) a consumer economy, more spendable income would have to provide jobs, right?  Also, businesses claim they cannot compete with foreign companies that provide government healthcare, so wouldn't reform help decrease the outsourced jobs and increase profits for business, therefore providing more jobs as well? But you're right, all of a sudden "deficits matter!" to the crowd that left us with a record deficit due to a war for oil and reckless tax cuts. Someone with more creativity than me will have to put this into a catchy soundbite!

  •  Inslee's answer was not lame, IMO (6+ / 0-)

    I was there, also, and thank you for reporting on the meeting.  Inslee began his answer about deficits by talking about Bush's Iraq war, which brought loud objections from part of the audience, presumably Republicans.  Inslee stuck to his message, saying he would not be intimidated.  He continued by saying that he voted against both the Iraq war and TARP, and said that both parties were responsible for the Iraq war.  

    Inslee's votes against war and bailouts give him credibility on reducing health care costs, which I think should be less of a concern than the much greater, and much less justified, costs of the public option for banks and defense contractors.

    •  Thanks - excellent to hear he brought up the war. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And about his votes. He stood with McDermott on that - a good place to be.

      What was your sense of the meeting? Did Inslee get through? Did you have the sense that the public option gained ground?

      •  It was helpful (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I think his Power Point at the beginning, did a good job of laying out the facts that people had to grapple with.  Even those who were negative began prefacing their remarks with the point, "well I'm for health care reform too"  before criticizing the plan.  To the extent that any of them mentioned their own ideas, though, it centered around "Tort reform", which is apparently to be where all new savings will emerge.

        I have a diary on the meeting also if you want more details.

        •  But isn't this tort reform business (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          a red herring? From everything I've read, that cost is not that big - even declining.

          It just seems to resonate with people who think lawyers are to blame
          for high medical insurance costs, not the insurance companies.

      •  I was very impressed with Inslee (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I think people came with their own ideas and he probably did not change people's minds, but he spoke well.  I was late, so I missed his intro.  I'm not from Edmonds so I don't know how much the audience was representative of views in the area.  There was plenty of loud suppport for the public option, and also the loud criticism of people, presumably Republicans, against Inslee's bill and criticism of Bush.  These people were concentrated in the bleachers to Inslee's right.  

        Inslee's last PowerPoint that remained on the screen was regional disparity in Medicare costs - I was surprised to learn how much less was spent in Seattle than in Plan TX and Miami FL.  

    •  I wonder if the people who are worried (0+ / 0-)

      about the government deficit ever think about their OWN potential deficit should they have a catastrophic illness.  

      What if they had a heart attack or a stroke? (of course many young people [bubbas in their 30's] think they're immortal.])

      What if their wives have a problem pregnancy or one of their children has recurrent ear infections?

      In the current system, they are goiing to be stuck with deductibles and co-pays.  Better a government deficit than having to declare bankruptcy due to medical bills.

      I'm not sure how to reach seniors on medicare who believe that they've paid into the system and have earned the money and don't want to give up medical care for younger people.   I'm not sure how to answer that, since part of the plan is to cut medicare costs.  (I think this was a tactical mistake by the Obama administration.  Cutting Medicare costs is not going to impact medicare BENEFITS, but to seniors it sounds like they will get less care.)

      One thing I've noticed about town halls outside the south - there is not the virulent hatred of Obama - the focus is on costs, deficits, and who's going to pay.

      I guess it is an improvement, but people who think the government deficit is the same as someone over spending their income is two different things.

      Needless to say, it's easy to come up with a lie that scares people; the truth is more complex.

      The land was ours before we were the land's...Robert Frost, The Gift Outright

      by HylasBrook on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 07:15:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "$30T = cost to the country (4+ / 0-)

    of no reform over a 10 yr period.

    Cost of AmeriCare = $1T.

    Which would you prefer?"

  •  HR 3200 and IMAC (0+ / 0-)

    I got there late, and may have missed Inslee's explanation of the Independent Medicare Advisory Council.  I see, however, that his handout on H.R. 3200 does not include discussion of this proposal, even though it is an important part of H.R. 3200.

    This proposal, incidentally, is what the Barney Frank's LaRouchie from another planet was calling a "Nazi" policy. (Fortunately, the LaRouchie's were not at today's meeting, as far as I could see.)

    I might be ill-informed, but I have been following health care reform here at DailyKos, and had seen no discussion of this before the Barney Frank incident led me to listen to what the LaRouchie was saying. Why do I have to learn about IMAC from a LaRouchie, with their disgusting rhetoric and questionable motives?  Why not talk about this?  

    IMAC does remove power from Congress, and is worth discussing.  Reducing geographical variations might be a good thing, and it might be that taking power from Congress is a good thing.  Let's talk about it.  

    I predict that this IMAC proposal could be a least common denominator and one of the few results of "health care reform."  We are not asking for "Medicare reformn," but that is what our support is being used to implement.  We make fun here of seniors concerned about their Medicare being reduced, suggesting they don't even realize that Medicare is a government program.  Maybe they are receiving bad information, but it's possible we are as well.

  •  Always so laughable (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    People who never once questioned the cost of Two wars, plus tax cuts for the rich, and were champing at the bit to get those troops over there NOW are now so very concerned that we ought to slow down and take our time with all this "health care reform" lest we spend too much money on giving free abortions to illegals.*

    In an ironic aside: would they change their tune about abortion if it were confined to unregistered aliens? Maybe some heads would explode!

    *Yes, I know that neither abortions or illegals are covered by any bill in discussion.

    •  Agree, but there is a problem here (0+ / 0-)

      Congressman Inslee is supporting a bill which includes the Independent MediCare Advisory Council, which is designed to lower Medicare costs by taking decisions away from Congress.  

      As I said above, Inslee has credibility on costs, because he voted against the Iraq war and against TARP.  But is IMAC really necessary?  Why isn't this being talked about more?

      Did I miss Inslee talking about IMAC because I got there late?  IMAC is not mentioned in the handout on H.R. 3200 that Inslee distributed at the meeting.

      This is an article which raises questions about IMAC, and should not be dismissed just because the Cato Institute wrote it.  If the IMAC proposal is worthy, we should discuss it, and ignoring it and just ridiculing the other side is not productive.

  •  I'm glad (0+ / 0-)

    the townhall you attended wasn't as vicious as mine. :)

  •  Anyone going to Brian Baird's (0+ / 0-)

    townhall at South Sound Community College in Olympia tomorrow night?

    We all have photographic memories. Some people just don't have any film.

    by fireflynw on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 06:28:25 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for reporting! (0+ / 0-)

    And thanks for going.  

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