House Democrats bash health care opponents’ tactics

August 11, 2009

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hit back at protesters vocally disrupting healthcare reform meetings around the country, calling them “un-American” – and with that word ignited the ire of opposition Republicans.

Pelosi and Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer wrote in USA Today that there was an “ugly campaign” to misrepresent the healthcare overhaul legislation being written in Congress and stop public debate, which they said is “at the heart of our democracy.”

Opponents have shouted down lawmakers at town meetings held to explain the healthcare ideas, calling the proposed government-run insurance program to compete with private insurers “socialism” – a fighting word in American politics.  “Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American,” the Democrats wrote.

The other side was quick to lob equally barbed words back. “Each public forum should give every participant the opportunity to express their views, but to label Americans who are expressing vocal opposition to the Democrats’ plan ‘un-American’ is outrageous and reprehensible,” said House Republican Leader John Boehner.

Congress is on break for the month of August, during which time Democrats were to try to sell healthcare reform ideas to the public.

In the first week of the summer recess, headlines have focused more on the raucous public meetings than on the healthcare legislation itself.

Has the Democratic strategy to win public support for healthcare reform backfired?

For more Reuters political news, click here.

17 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

I certainly don’t understand any of this anti-government paranoia. I think Obama and the current administration have had their work cut out for them, and have been going about the process of working for a better health care system admirably. Personally, I’m thankful for an administration that finally cares enough to address the issue of broader health care for all.

Posted by Jason R | Report as abusive

According to the article they said:
“Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American”. I know that is technically less divisive and incendiary than just saying they “bashed the health care opponents as un-American”, but it would be nice if you at least attempted to reconcile the facts in the article with what is written in the headline. Journalism really is dead.

Posted by Kate | Report as abusive

Between Pelosi and Blanche Lincoln our country is moving backwards 50 steps, There is no way I am voting for someone from Arkansas that considers me to be unAmerican for voicung my concern. I am a military veteran and I am going to vote for Trevor Drown, the independent from combat vet from Russellville.

http://truthiest.blogspot.com/2009/08/mo re-reichwing-corporate-astroturfing.html

More Reichwing Corporate Astroturfing by Big Pharma Goons
Faked Grassroots:

The Ultra-right, so far right that they are 4th Reich, has launched another breakout Battle of the Bulge.

Sending in more busloads of stormtroopers who don’t have jobs, or home lives, or family obligations, across state lines to 35 cities is a front group called “Our Country Deserves Better PAC”.

According to false-messiah Sun Myung Moon’s Washington Times newspaper:

The group’s Tea Party Express kicks off a bus caravan on Aug. 28 and will host 35 rallies in cities and towns from coast to coast that will end with a taxpayer rally in Washington on Sept. 12

… Mr. Wierzbicki, whose organization was formed during the 2008 elections and now boasts 350,000 supporters.

The cross-country bus tour is being supported by many groups that have been active in the tea party protest movement, including FreedomWorks, the conservative advocacy group headed by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas, the National Tax Limitation Committee, and Tea Party Patriots.

Other organizations were conducting their own lobbying campaigns against the administration’s health care plan, including the Washington-based Americans for Prosperity, which has launched a Patients First bus trip that has been touring through Virginia, North Carolina, Nebraska, and other states. The buses are emblazoned with the campaign’s banner logo

The Tea Party Express caravan, which will include two 45-foot buses, several RVs and SUVs, and a moving van for additional equipment, will begin at a rally in Sacramento and head out across the country on 22-day tour of cities from Reno, Nev., to Bridgeport, Conn., before its Washington finale. Advance teams are promoting the rallies in each city, most of which are the hometowns of Democratic lawmakers who are considered vulnerable in the 2010 midterm elections.

Bridgeport Connecticut is the home of Sun Myung Moon’s university and theology school. Moon can always be counted on to bring out a crowd of cult-devotees on demand.

Correcting some falsehoods of the Moonie Times:

1. The 350,000 members are mailing lists merged from several longstanding Reichwing organizations and have not signed up specifically and exclusively for this particular campaign.
2. “Our Country Deserves Better PAC” is a republican-organized campaign limited to conservative republicans only plus any others who can be duped into falling for their spam.
3. FreedomWorks, Tea Party Patriots, Americans for Prosperity, Patients First, are all one single organization with multiple names and with overlapping executives and decision-makers. For example: bosses Dick Armey and Killer Koch Brother David Koch are tied to all of them.
4. While “they” claim 350,000 members, many who don’t know that they have joined or are counted because of the multiple fake organization names, Obama was elected by over 9,000,000 more votes than the loser, and the voters gave him a mandate to change healthcare for the better.

watching the video accounts of the disruption being attached the”Mob”as they have been described,the majority that i have watched being interviewed have been democrats!. It is now evident that there is a section of the democrats that are being marginalized by the extremists in the party. If these people are holding similar views to the independent section of the electorate then the democrats are in big trouble. All we need now is evidence that this group of people are being “flagged” by the obama servitors then it is really going to hit the fan.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Since when is shouting someone down and discouraging discourse and debate considered a \”right?\” Rather than engage in a serious debate about the issues, the pros and cons, etc, the republiCONs think that just shouting down everyone who does not agree with them is somehow a god-given right. It is not, the behaviour is pathetic, un-american and is EXACTLY what the NAZIs did to their opposition in Germany in the 1930s. Keep yelling! Even you self-proclaimed clown of a leader, Sarah Palin has told you fools to stop it.

Posted by mike | Report as abusive

Have any of you pro-health care reformers read the 1018 page bill?? If not do…you may find yourself being one of the many un-americans that appose this monstrosity. Especially if you are, over 65, or unemployed, or change employers, or just graduated from school or….you’ll see the consequences of illiteracy.

Posted by Sue | Report as abusive

While I might not agree that disrupting town hall meetings is “un-American” it is counter productive. I know and I’m sure members of Congress know that there are people opposed to the presidents healthcare reforms. That’s fine, they can be opposed and they can attend town hall meetings and voice their opinion. That is what those meetings are for, but to disrupt and try to shut down these meetings is not doing anybody any good.
Now for those of you who feel these disrupters are exercising their rights and are being treated unfairly let me ask you this.
Where was your outrage when people protesting the Iraq War were treated the same way by the Bush administration? Why weren’t your screaming about First Amendment rights when those protesters were stifled and muffled? When Bush held rallies and people were searched to make sure they weren’t wearing anti Bush t-shirts or carrying anti Bush signs where was the right wing anger then? Oh that’s right, it didn’t matter to you then because you agreed with Bush and the supported the war so any dissent could be crushed and you thought it was fine. Hypocrites.
Not all of us “lefties” agree with the health care system that Obama is pushing, I don’t think government run health care is the answer. However something has to be done to get the insurance and drug companies to cut their costs, eliminate waste and make care affordable for everyone.
Personally I think there should be a non profit health care system that is administered by a NGO similar to the Red Cross. When profit and the bottom line determine what kind of care people get people will loose every time.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

Ground rules need to be set and announced for these town hall meetings. If your intent is to stifle discussion, then you will immediately be thrown out. Allowing people to shout down others so that they can not be heard should not be tolerated. This is truly un-American.

Posted by Joe | Report as abusive

I would like to know who is sponsoring all of the “anti-health care” rhetoric. Our airwaves are completely clogged with ads for drugs and the health insurance companies are mandating what we can (and cannot have) in terms of their bottom line. The price of drugs and access to health care is skyrocketing and people are complaining about the government not doing anything. Medicare and Medicaid are already government sponsored programs.

Where are these “shouters” when…
You cannot get a drug your doctor orders because the health insurance company will not pay for it.

You cannot get a procedure because your health insurance company denies it.

When you cannot get drugs because they are too expensive, despite the fact that you can see the advertisement on tv (at least 10 times a night)

When you can’t get coverage for a preexisting condition because no one wants to pay for it.

When you are dropped from your insurance company because you were diagnosed with cancer.

Let’s hear the outrage on some of this!

Posted by Sheila | Report as abusive

Way to go mike. U think like ten men! Makobe from kenya.

I find those organizations opposing the proposed Health Care Reform legislation reprehensible. I am not referring to individuals who have questions and or doubts about Health Care Reform, but the well funded organizations who’s tactics are to spread misinformation and confusion. If they were truly insterested in the well being of the American people they would offer ideas and put their money into activities that would be beneficial to the future of this country. Instead they appear to put their resources toward stopping those who have devised plans and processes to move our country forward, for the benefit of all of its citizens.

Posted by Barbara Dale | Report as abusive

eric h welcome back,you don,t agree with the government health care plan,which one?can we suggest that the benefits you enjoy because of your wives employment are just to good to give up? I have consistently voiced my mistrust about insurance companies and their roll as regulators in the administration of health care,but reluctantly when i compare them against my TOTAL mistrust of democratic politicians particularly considering the multitude investigations and incidents of corruption that are surfacing almost on a dayly basis,as it seems in all levels of government,i have to go for the lesser of two evils.I think this has to be one of the reasons that i am seeing sensible people who are obviously compassionate enough to admit that there are unfortunate situations out there but are terrified at the prospect of the abuses that would occur at the hands of these unprincipled politicians.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Brian, being self employed it would be difficult for me to insure my family on my own, so yes, the plan through my wife’s job does the trick but it is expensive. No I am not in favor of a government run plan for everyone, I also do not trust Washington to get it right. The last part of my previous comment is where I think we should go. A non-government, non-profit health care provider with no denials for pre-existing conditions or ability to drop a patient because they developed an expensive condition.
I see a low cost heath plan alternative as competition for the insurance companies which might force them to get their costs down.
No matter who holds the purse string, government or private industry, if the level of care is determined by profit margin then the patient will lose every time.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

eric h, i think you should be more careful in what you are saying,”i do not trust washington to get it right”,if you get ‘FLAGGED”will you let me and TC know? sarah has hit the headlines ,probably mean the blood pressure is going to spike again, anything original? or is the same old tirades going to be resounding in the woods.God bless

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Brian, chances are I have an FBI file as it is, I’ve never been 100 percent happy the government no matter who is charge.
As far as Ms. Palin (not Gov. Palin) is concerned, she is in the news for the wrong reasons and doesn’t affect my blood pressure at all. A minor player in a party of disarray.
Tirades? You must have me confused with TC.
Right back at you with the blessing.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

eric h,because of the job i once held i had to have FBI and interpol clearance,and there was a situation once in an other country were my phone was being tapped., but i knew about it.The trade mark of socialism is closing down any dialog from the opposition, one classic example is Hugo,it goes hand in hand. Obama has been taken by surprise by the dissension ,but stand by and watch as the tactics change,the attempted gentle persuasion is going to end. there seems to be emerging another group of contributors to this blog,you, me,TC and getplaning are probably private citizens giving our opinions,but you will see a change!direct surrogates actually mandated by the White House will be directed to target and take on people like me and TC. so where there was an even amount of contributors this will change i hope Reuters does not capitulate,and will be aware of this as a possible development.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

[...] the governed.” While it may be true that some of those that “govern” are a little put out by how upset ‘we that are governed’ might BE these days, we are nonetheless put-out ourselves, and we demand that our leaders listen to our grievances [...]