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:
- Our side is winning, organization-wise.
- 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:
- To Mccheerful: there were fewer than 20 of us from out of district. We were held back until just before the start.
- To Vincamajor: I think Mclallan was chosen because of the New Yorker article, although he didn't bring that up.
- 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.
- 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"