Health Care Debate Takes Calmer Turn on the Hustings

Posted August 20, 2009 at 10:05am

The summer of rowdy Congressional town hall meetings took a calmer turn on Wednesday — although Members who sought to focus on other issues found themselves pulled back into the health care debate by their constituents.In Louisiana, Republican Rep. Steve Scalise saw a town hall meant to discuss crime and corruption turn into a forum on health care, according to the Times-Picayune. Scalise, who replaced former Rep. Bobby Jindal (R) when he was elected governor in 2008, promoted the Republican plan for health insurance.“Health care in this country is not broken to the point that we need to dismantle the system and start over with government running the system,— Scalise said.In Kentucky freshman Rep. Brett Guthrie, a Republican who represents the conservative 2nd district, sounded off against the public insurance option, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, while in Wisconsin, veteran Rep. Ron Kind (D) defended it, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.“A lot of people in this country want that choice of having the public option,— Kind said. He is considering a gubernatorial run.In Rhode Island, Rep. James Langevin (D) faced 500 people, as 300 more were turned away, according to the Providence Journal. The Warwick City Hall event was Langevin’s first health-care-related public meeting, and he used a PowerPoint presentation to go over fact and fiction about the legislation.About 150 people showed up for Colorado Rep. Betsy Markey’s (D) second of 12 public meetings scheduled during recess, according to the Greeley Tribune. She met with about 20 people at a time for 15 to 20 minutes. The freshman said she wouldn’t support the current House bill because it’s too expensive, but she believes the United States will end up with a “hybrid— system of public and private health insurance. Markey, who defeated Republican Rep. Marilyn Musgrave in 2008, is likely to face a tough re-election battle in her conservative district.In Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz’s attempt at bipartisanship failed Wednesday afternoon. The second-term Democrat invited neighboring Rep. John Kline, a four-term Republican, to take questions with him this afternoon, according to the Star Tribune. The move backfired when the invitation was released to members of the press before Kline received it, and Kline called it a “publicity stunt.— Rep. Sanford Bishop (D) told a crowd of about 530 people in Georgia that he is undecided on health care reform, according to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. “My vote doesn’t belong to [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi [D-Calif.] and it doesn’t belong to Barack Obama,— he said. “It belongs to the people in the second district of Georgia.—Bishop will hold town halls Thursday at Bainbridge College and Albany State University.See a list of today’s town halls at Congress.org.