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August 11th, 2009
11:12 PM ET

Are town hall protests threatening health care reform?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/11/specter.town.hall/art.spector.twn.hall.cnn.jpg caption="Sen. Arlen Specter, left, answers questions Tuesday during a forum in Lebanon, Pennsylvania."]

David Gergen | Bio
AC360° Contributor
CNN Senior Political Analyst

When a long-time voter favorite in Pennsylvania, Senator Arlen Specter, faces an hour of jeering and booing over health care reform, as he did today, the question arises: how will these raucous town halls affect the outcome in one of the central legislative battles of our time?

The answer does not appear to be encouraging for reformers. Granted, the way that opposition has been ginned up by outside forces does discount these outbursts some. The way that opponents are also disrupting these town halls, drowning out the capacity for civil discourse, is also stirring a backlash among many citizens on the sidelines.

But beneath the din it is also obvious that there is a growing bloc of voters on the right and a good many in the middle who are becoming passionately opposed to the overhaul of the health care system envisioned by liberal Democrats, especially in the House. It is the intensity of their feeling as much as the size of the crowd that may shape the voting on Capitol Hill in coming weeks.

The President’s White House team entered the August recess knowing that they had lost ground with the public during July. But they saw some evidence that opinion was stabilizing last week and with the Congress getting out of town, they thought that Obama would be able to recapture center stage and could hammer home his newly-crafted message about the consumer protections coming from reforms. If they could show opinion turning in their favor by early September, they would have a much better chance of securing major legislation.

But the way these town halls have turned noisy, and sometimes ugly, has kept much of the media focus on Congress and on disruptions. It is not yet clear whether the President can regain control of the argument.

For now, the intensity of the opposition – coming on the heels of a growing wariness in national polls – is shifting the odds for what will eventually happen with reform. In this week’s issue of the National Journal, correspondents Brian Friel and Richard E. Cohen provide a valuable insight into possible endgames. They report that there are four possible outcomes:

(1) A major bipartisan reform bill is passed;
(2) A major Democratic reform bill is passed over nearly united Republican opposition;
(3) The Democrats cannot agree among themselves and pass Health Care Lite, a very watered down version of reform;
(4) Failure

Looking at the chances today, in the midst of all this brouhaha, one would have to say that the odds for outcomes one and two are going down. It is hard to see how a lot of Republicans will sign up for a bipartisan bill in the teeth of this opposition; similarly, it may be tougher for moderate Democrats, especially new members from Republican-leaning districts, to sign on to a Democratic-only bill. That means the odds are going up for outcomes three and, yes, four.

Does this mean that reform is dying? Not at all. It is still possible that if the protests continue at a high decibel level, more people in the middle will grow disgusted and rally to the President. And given his political and rhetorical talents, it is more than possible that Barack Obama himself can turn this around. But for the moment, the raucous clips coming out of Senator Specter’s session with his constituents along with other clips from other town halls - as offensive as they are to many (including me) - are also presenting a growing threat to reform.

soundoff (192 Responses)
  1. cynthia in ft. lauderdale, fl

    AGENDA – "a temporally organized plan for matters to be attended to"...just want to make sure everyone has that definition because it seems like a lot of people are throwing it around like it is a dirty word...ex: the Democratic agenda. Of course they have an agenda, aka, a plan to get things done...as a voter I would be pretty mad if my elected officials did not have an agenda.

    Furthermore, the "majority" is not cramming things down the throat of the minority. The Democrats won this election by a "majority" vote based on a platform, aka agenda, of health care reform. Let them do what they were hired, by us, the American people to do. If you don't like it vote for someone else next time. But at least they are trying after 8 years of this issue going completely unaddressed.

    The thing that is the most disturbing is that people seem to be buying into this "us versus them" mentality. We are the same country with the same goals for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...none of our politicians are "evil" and trying to bring us down, they just have differing views on what will fix the problems our country has. So disagree freely, voice your opinions, but leaving the hate mongering at home before it gets someone killed.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:52 pm |
  2. rose

    I still think it come's down to WE THE PEOPLE. IF the people don't want it then why do it, when Bush was President it was just fine to protest, now when oboma is pres, it is un- American. we all know what has driven up health care, the lawyers,with greed, guess who is in the White House and Congress. if we need to change it should be insurance hopital cost and Doctors cost and keep the wolf's at bay (lawyers). Now if there is a true, lawsuit yes that should go to court, And not spelling coffee on some one and getting millions,

    August 11, 2009 at 4:52 pm |
  3. Jeff Fairchild

    As an American who cares and who votes in every election I am very disappointed in our elected officials. To call those who oppose this mess they call health care reform "unpatriotic or insurance company or Repubican plants" and some of the other names is offensive and it shows just how out of touch with the common person they really are. Come on folks, being a Republican is no more evil than being a Democrat. It isj ust that both represent different points of view. The reason we have such anger at the town hall meetings is because no one is listening to the people.

    And in regard to the President's town hall today, that was nothing more than a set up. There was not one honest member of the opposition present. I wonder who is doing the plants. President Obama needs to stop the dog and pony shows and listen to what real people think.

    The only thing he convinced me of is that we still cannot trust him to tell us the truth. Because of this people will continue to get angry. I only hope this unrequited anger does not turn into a blood bath.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:52 pm |
  4. HankReardon

    Ding Ding Ding! And David is the big winner for playing the race card a whopping 16 comments in!

    Oppose Obama? You are probably a racist! It's that simple! Thanks, David, for that wonderful insight of the mind of middle America!

    August 11, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  5. David

    When ACORN gets people to show up and are disruptive are just viewed as community organizers exercising their right to free speech.

    Here the author uses the term "ginned up" clearly showing bias. Isn't it possible that people can be angry and are organizing against something they see as a threat?

    These are the same people Obama scoffed at behind closed doors in SF. Now they have eRAT websites,

    August 11, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  6. Phil in San Diego

    The problem is that the administration is calling this "emergency" legislation. We have to do it now, whether its right or wrong. More than 90% of Americans have health care - why is this all of the sudden an emergency? Why aren't they tackling the fundamental causes of spiraling health costs? They don't seem to want to reform the legal system, the regulation system, the way medicare delivers care, the problem of pre-existing conditions, the lack of catastrophic health coverage availability, the problem of providing services to those who are not legally in the use, the issue of over-population, the inconsistency of price of the same drug when purchased in Canada vs. the United States ....

    Those in charge (who because they have a majority in the House and Senate) believe that they do not need to listen to dissenting views or minorities. If that were always the case, we'd still have separation based on race and sex. And fundamentally America would not be America, Our Democrat Congress, Senate and President are behaving like schoolyard bullies who have just won a baseball game and are thumbing their noses at the "losers". I am appalled at their tone (especially the idiot spokesman for the president). I'm insulted. And I feel sorry that they fundamentally do not understand the responsibility they now shoulder for this country. The Democrats are in charge. And they may be filling puffed up. But they should also be frightened about what happens to their powerbase if they should fail.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  7. DKemp Seattle

    So I have a bit of a different perspective as my wife is a doctor so I hear about more of the inner workings revolving around some healthcare matters.

    What I find funny is that all of the people that are screaming think they do not pay for uninsured people already. If ANYONE goes to an emergency room they get health care it is law they can not be turned away for anything. So who do you all think pays them for that if they can not? The government pays, AKA your taxes. Now then that ER care is 10 X the amount of paying for a government option to just cove them up front.

    So for all of you that want a simple version; Do you want to early for a dollar or do you want to pay later for 10 dollars. Either way you are paying and the insurance industry is causing the price to keep going up and up.

    If the plans go anything like Medicare they will be sufficient but nothing fancy and those that can afford it will have private subsidies that they can pay for say group health over the general public health care locations. This way the insurance companies will actually have to earn your business as you can get rid of them and still have some coverage as you find a different upscale insurance program more to your liking.

    All in all there is a lot of yelling about nothing as there is not a bill yet just the early makings of a bill. Our legislature is so convoluted it will still be a while before any actual bill will come to fruition.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  8. Greg

    Chaulk me up as another to call you out for your gross hypocrisy!

    I didn't see you lining up to complain about ACORN, Unions, Code Pink, MoveOn, etc etc etc when they deliberately interrupt the democratic process... no no... for you that WAS the process... totally cool that YOUR people were acting out and standing up... and "manufacturing discontent".... but if Republicans and Conservatives do it... oooh then it really gets under your skin.

    You arrogant, self-absorbed, hyprocite, elitest pric#! Get an ounce of journalistic integrity and maybe you will gain some integrity and respect... until then... keep writing your best pal those letters.

    Greg

    August 11, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  9. gramps1941

    I certainly hope so. Even tho the protests are mostly by uninformed ignorant folks
    The last thing we need is another Government mandated or Government run beaurocracy
    d

    August 11, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  10. Brian

    Healthcare "reform" in its current state should be threatened, especially as long as Congress is not required to participate in the public plan. As for the tactics being used by those opposed, they are not at all different from the tactics liberals used to trash George Bush and other conservatives. Now they are getting a taste of their own medicine, and to criticize it is to be a hypocrite.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  11. Brian

    Health care reform is an absolute necessity. The problem with health insurance is systemic and reaches to every level imaginable. In the current climate, profit and revenue have become the measure of success, not whether a patient receives quality care at prices they can afford. Unfortunately, the orchestrated uproar at town hall meetings does not contribute to robust debate, but rather relegates what could be informative discussions into nothing more than a partisan screaming match. Instead of addressing substance and legitimate concerns, these town hall meetings serve as nothing more than blatant examples of how divisive health care reform is. While divisiveness over such controversial political and social issues are encouraging signs of a functioning democracy, the amount of misinformation and utter ignorance being displayed is downright ludicrous.

    Brian,
    New York, NY

    August 11, 2009 at 4:48 pm |
  12. Tom Dignan

    I think it's interesting that people are trying to portray these confrontations as Republicans versus Democrats. It appears to me that these are simply people versus the federal government.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:48 pm |
  13. Carol

    I am sick of about 15 people at these town halls controlling the entire health care discussion. That wingnut asking Senator Specter about health care reform resulting in totalitarianism. She ranted and went on and on. Sick of hearing from only them. She was prepared, she knew others in the crowd and played to them. THEY DO NOT REPRESENT others who are at work and support health care reform.

    They are not asking questions, They are using the health care forum as an opportunity to present their fring views of the government. They are the tea party birthers who believe we are heading towards communism because we want insurance companies to stop dumping people from plans.

    Sick of these goofs hijacking a forum where ALL views should have an opportunity.

    Senator Specter: Ask the audience if anyone out there has a story or view in support of health care.

    They lie when they suggest they represent even close to a majority.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:48 pm |
  14. G.A. Howell

    The more of this behavior is displayed, the more I think that they do so because of Fear to Change. We all know that something in healthcare needs to change. It has been known for a long time. And it is getting worse. Then why not make a first attempt.

    I think that we have a very brave President to be the first one as our leader to take up the issue. Let's ask ourselves, what do we lose and what will we gain?

    Is anyone against helping the people who can't afford health insurance or do we prefer the status quo? It is not going to get better if we stay with the old. It's going to get worse.

    Trying something new means courage from all of us. We can make changes where necessary. I think the President would be willing to do that.

    Come up with better ideas? Anyone?

    August 11, 2009 at 4:48 pm |
  15. Jonesy

    I see this phony 'outrage' over the health care plan as just partisans trying to get some mileage and damage the President.
    Where was the outrage over government control during the run up to the War, or creation of DHS/TSA?
    None. Zero, because Bush was a patriot, and he wrapped himself up in the flag...
    The richest nation cannot provide a BASIC level of health care for its citizens, but we bicker over whether to fund a outdated jet fighter ?
    I bet most citizens who are decrying socialism and adherence to the constitution have not read it, and can't define socialism except what Beck and Limbaugh tell them...
    Elected officials are elected to lead, not follow the mass opinion like sheep. If we did a poll on whether it was right to launch D-Day, or free the slaves, guess where'd that end up.
    Courage, courage.....

    August 11, 2009 at 4:47 pm |
  16. MEW

    Perhaps it's time for the those who support reform to start yelling just as loudly back. I want reform. In fact, I want a single payer system, which I know won't ever get passed, but that shouldn't stop me from biting back at these anti-reform demonstrators.

    I have a pre-existing condition that prevents me from getting covered by any other insurer and I worry that the insurance I have will drop me. Not to mention my pre-existing condition is something I was born with and not the result of a bad diet or unhealthy choices.

    There are too many of us in this predicament. It's time to stop ignoring us.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  17. Mike

    It is amazing to me how upset people are getting when "conservatives" are acting out when they feel, at rightfully so, that the constitution is starting to get trampled on by this administration. Are they a little overboard? YES.

    However to compare this to protestors of the war over soldiers who willingly fought for their country. To show up at funerals and disrespect the families... Please, the two aren't even close to being disrepectful and disgusting... and the media did very little to cover those stories compared to night after night coverage of this.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  18. Lou Adler

    The current Obama-care program will fail, however, a new and better plan could emerge. It would need to have the following features
    1. A patient's bill of rights
    2. True national competition
    3. A combined private group plan comprised of all insurers to cover those with pre-existing conditions
    4. Some profit regulation, like public utilities
    5. Some fair sort of rationing – the idea behind this is that if you have a limited number of doctors, nurses, equipment and facilities to cover more people, everyone will be hit. There's no way you can increase the demand for healthcare without the supply increasing, too, unless you allocate services in some fair way.
    6. A very very very basic core program for everyone who's not insured.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  19. HankReardon

    Morality cannot be left to a vote. Before Martin Luther King, Jr, the "majority" were not in favor of recognizing African Americans as human beings, and all rights associated with this recognition.

    Do you believe if it is the purpose of health insurance companies, or government run health insurance companies to provide you with health care? You think that is their purpose? NO! It is to make money, and I congratulate them for it. If I do not like their services, I can opt to take my money elsewhere, even if it means not having insurance. Now, you are allowing the government, or government run companies to have a legal monopoly- you pay for insurance, or you pay for insurance.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  20. Brandon Duncan

    Mr Gergen,

    What facts are you relying on for the following statement in your articel :

    "Granted, the way that opposition has been ginned up by outside forces does discount these outbursts some."

    Do you KNOW they were "ginned up"? Or are you just saying this because you are for health care reform (and other liberal agendas)?

    I watched the town hall meeting with Senator Specter and it looked authentic to me.

    Please stick to the facts.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  21. dougsak

    The reason folks are angry and mistrust Congress is that there is no hard information out there. If you want civil debate, tell us what the plan is and then we can debate the merits. I'm 63 years old and have paid in to Social Security and Medicare all my working life. I want to know that I will get some return on my investment. I don't mind helping out the truly needy, but I don't want to establish another entitlement program that will include illegals and career welfare recipients who don't pay their share.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  22. cynthia

    People just keep in mind, that the vast majority of the people that are so upset about the Health Care Reform, are poor ignorant caucasians americans that are racist and so afraid that this country is changing. It's ok for the government to pay for the their health care, but if the government tries to help anyone other person or minority its such a big deal. These people can't come to grips with the fact that this is NOT sole their country it's a country for every american. How David Gergen can say this is not a racial issue is beyond me. Because if you look closely there are no minorites at these town hall meetings. Only under-educated, poor, caucasians.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  23. MAQ

    The townhall disruptions are designed to muddy the waters and prevent a clear debate. The Republicans have devised a great strategy which will ultimately fail because these are short term strategies. As I look in the horizon, I still don't see any ideas or clear policies of any kind on any issues from the Republican Party, only fear tactics. This will not get them back the Whitehouse in 2012.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  24. Suzanna

    I watched with some dismay the doc from Atlanta sparring with the elected representative about the 'facts' of health care reform on the Situation Room yesterday.
    What facts? Other developed countries – where there is nobody taking a cut for profit – spend less per person than the U.S., and have healthier people, according to a range of mortality and illness indicators.

    These countries, mine included, long ago learned that preventing a disease was more cost effective – and healthier – than curing one. That's why we all have medical care. Because ultimately it's cheaper and your citizens live healthier lives.

    The whole discussion and the high-tone protests leave me bemused and a little sad.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  25. Neil

    To RLWellman,

    A minority? Who might that be? The people who voted in Obama 2-1 over MacGoo? Open wide and take it because it's going to happen.

    Are you one of those misled morons who wants to shout at Town Meetings because Glenn Beck said you should? You and your dead party are grasping at straws because you lost–so get over it.

    Oh, and bush started the wars so you and your brainless party can stop blaming the current administration. We could pay for reform if just one of these was stopped.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  26. HankReardon

    Wow, I can't make sense of your comment, matthew scott.

    I like how this is thrust into the limelight, yet the people who showed up and yelled at Palin during her campaign, wearing "Sarah Palin is a c**t" t-shirts, did not grace the pages of CNN.

    I think it's great that when liberals organize it is a "grassroots" effort, yet if conservatives organize it is a "special interest group".

    Or maybe it's just CNN that says that.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  27. Mike

    I'm all for having civil discourse, but when the Bill that is being proposed is so bad, and the president is talking out of both sides of his mouth without giving any real plan, it is no wonder the people are angry.
    I would change #4 to Success, not Failure. Defeating this bill is a success for all hard-working Americans.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  28. JBchicago

    Mr. Gergen,

    You're offended by the outworkings of the democratic process? Were you offended by the uproar created by Cindy Sheehan and company? Code Pink? Act Up? The illegal actions of ACORN? If so, I don't recall you mentioning your disgust. It seems that you are selectively offended by people who don't share your views – not a great spot for a TV news commentator. You are losing credibility daily.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  29. Nicole

    Yes. How can you debate about health care reform, when no one is listening to each other. In order to have a good debate about health care so everyone's views can be expressed, you have to be objective, not subjective, despite your personal views on the president or congress. Bush brought us to war for eight years and it was shoved down our throats. Now, we actually have a way to not be selfish and inhumane and provide health care for all of our citizens, and now we want to express our right of free speech. How ironic is that?

    August 11, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  30. Susan in Sunnyvale

    I have great insurance, but the cost keeps rising each year. 10.7% this year. 23% last year. the insurance companies were making 5 times their profit while raising our premiums to the point that many had to drop out. I call it blood money.
    Yes, I know we are a capitalist country and that businesses have to make a profit, but this is not just business–this is people's health and welfare. In the end, we are all paying for the uninsured anyway, so let's pass this reform bill! I'd rather have the somewhat inept government in charge than the greedy corporations who are making the decisions now.
    The town hall protests are only making the protester look bad.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  31. Duncan Johnston

    Obama has a clear mandate to reform healthcare. It was a major issue in the election, and part of his platform. For those whose candidate lost the election to try now to declare that reform is against the public's wishes is dishonest. The voters have spoken.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  32. David

    Dear Anderson,

    The resistance to Health Care reform is more about Race than reform. The fact that the Republicans are calling it Socialize Medicine is the perception by White folks that this Black President is going to turn this Country into a Welfare Nation. A Welfare Nation that would look out for Blacks who don't have jobs and immigrants who are not White Anglo Saxon. Race is still an issue in this Country, because most Whites still fear Blacks. This still remains an aberration for me as a Black man, because Whites control the entire Banking System which either denies or allows Blacks to own homes, cars, insurance or survive in this Country.

    David,
    Las Vegas.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  33. matthew scott

    no i dont thank that does fools out there threteing heath care reform at all, what i do thank is that they are just makeing a big fool of themself on the world wide tv and maybe they like to go home and watch themselfs on there TV's the most of them that are out there dont know whay there are out there they just folling the outher fllows so they can go back home and say thats me right there to any one that will witch them on tv,

    August 11, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  34. Jason

    It is very important that the Dems ignore these fringe nuts, they don't speak for the whole country. The Dems know it is a rouse so they should ignore the people and vote for health care reform WITH public option intact.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  35. Melissa

    Not at all. In fact, if anything they're making things worse on themselves because they can't behave in a civilized manner. They're making themselves look like fools.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  36. matthew scott

    I would thank that does peoples thats protestsing would stop makeing a fool of themself by being out there holling and dont no know what they are holling about they are just makeing a fool of themself!,

    August 11, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  37. Hollis Hoier

    I don't care WHO/ HOW/ WHY some are individuals are disrupting the Town Hall meetings... these behaviors lead to no productive solutions or clarification... and I do observe/research many sites for information daily. PLEASE, CNN and other media domains, just choose & show those entries/actions that might be educationally important questions and comments if answered/addressed so that we THINKERS can better understand the healthcare reform ideas BEFORE we jumped to judge. Thank you if you do.... HH

    August 11, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  38. Daniel

    It surprises me to see the conduct of some of this people on TV. Where is all the respect for other's opinions? Where is the United States of America I knew? (Being an immigrant myself and caring very much about this debate). I disagree a lot on some of the issues, like where is the money going to come from to pay for this?, but I believe we all need to get educated more on the issue before making a decision. By that I mean speaking with your representatives, not by showing some ignorant behavior and disrespecting other's views. If all keeps going the way it is going, we will be seeing the senate and the house acting like other countries' lawmakers fighting physically like uncivilized monkeys to make their point. This is America, and this is a civilized nation.
    I hope all of this will be over soon and we will have a new healthcare reform on place.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  39. JC- Los Angeles

    It has become clear that President Obama is using the subject of health care reform as a distraction for his greater goal of creating a much broader health care industry.

    America, post 9/11, was kept afloat by cheap money and mortgage fraud; with the mortage meltdown and with America producing and manufacturing nothing, President Obama needs to create industry.

    Wall Street, like they did with mortgage backed securities and credit default swaps, will create insurance policy swaps where they will bet for and against health care policies.

    Obama knows the only way back from the abyss is to create an industry and it's beginning to look like universal health care fraud is it.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  40. RLWellman

    This is what happens when a minority in this country tries to shove something down the majority's throat. I don't know who the liberals think they are, but the majority are not going to sit still while these idiots try to shove their agenda onto them.

    If the liberals want to work together to get something accomplished, this will be fine. However, they are not going to be the only ones to make decisions that effect the majority of this country.

    Health Care Reform, or is it Health Insurance Reform? The President doesn't seem like he knows which one it is. However, it is needed, but we are not going to give up more of our freedoms to get it.

    August 11, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  41. JoAnn Moon

    I'm someone with a "cadillac" insurance plan, but I want reform because even my generally good insurer, has made decisions that have put me at risk. More importantly, I know too many hard working middle income families, who were uninsured, and various illnesses and injuries have financially brought these people to their knees. I want EVERYONE covered and don't mind paying more for it, but when I see those screaming lunatics on tv, a part of me thinks those people don't deserve healthcare reform, after all, I'm insured. I hate to think that way but this is getting old!!!! There needs to be a clear easy explanation of plan written at the 5th grade level for comprehension...oh wait...can they do it in pictures. PS I have MS and death council hasn't killed me yet...PSS Don't publish my address!!

    August 11, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  42. Isabel • Brazil

    Hello, Mr Gergen!

    We aren't naïve to ignore that much more at stake than just the restructuring of the health system. In 6 months in power, a president super-popular is able to show people that the health system in the US today spends inordinately, generates injury and doesn't care the patient as well as in some other countries where health is successful.

    The reform is for all, not only for the fortunate.

    What exists is not "socialized medicine." What exists is the creation of only one state health plan to improve the standards used by private companies.

    These heated debates should not scare. Because of this discussion may result in better health conditions for all, a health system more homogeneous.

    After all, the neighbor should see a doctor even though he has not enough money, right?

    August 11, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  43. matthew scott

    Ithenk does dum protests are all dont know what they protestsing about they just wont to get on TV.somehow so they can go home and watch themself on TV they dont on what they are protestsing for or aganst or for and the most of them are republican's. just fllowing the corides.they just to take they self back home and watch whats going on! instade of makeing a fool of themself!, becouse the republicans has never dun any thing for the poor peoples. all of the republicans are all for the rich peoples not for the poor pepoles.

    August 11, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  44. Marilyn

    Obstruction of Representation

    I am very concerned about people and groups filling up town hall meetings on the health care bill who do not live in that respective congressional district.

    Last night a DJ on a radio station in Los Angeles told his all of his listeners to make sure they attended a town hall meeting that is to be held by a particular Congressman tonight. He also told them to be sure that they got there early so they got a seat because the space would only hold 250 or so people.

    If people who do not live in the respective districts are attending these meetings and taking up the seats, it is obstructing the right of the people who do live in that district to hear from their own congressperson and ask legitimate questions. This obstruction violates people's constitutional rights. I call this obstruction of representation

    Very concerned

    August 11, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  45. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Would this not stand a better chance and be more sane if it were done in 2 parts? The claims are that most of this gets funded by eliminating waste and reducing costs of the present system. Well fine, enact those savings first as step 1. Anyone with current plans will see their cost come down, and hence be more willing to do step 2; which is to extend the benefits to those without. The problem of course is that everyone knows that the savings aren't really there, so step 1 never gets you there. I'm sure that everyone in DC knows that a middle class tax increase is the only way to pay for this. The Republicans are saying it, and the Democrats are denying it (which is called lying where I come from).

    August 11, 2009 at 3:41 pm |
  46. sharon, sydney, ns

    I think the only way President Obama can regain control of the argument is by taking control of the situation. He has to have some kind of "look it, let's just bring this back to the basics" kind of event. It has to be held on national television and it should involve him and a few of his supporters and a few prominent Republicans to hash out all the truths and falsehoods that are being tossed around. The bill should be explained one night and a full out debate on health care reform should follow. The town halls aren't working. I don't know if there is a Republican out there that would go head on in a debate, but it sure would help matters.

    August 11, 2009 at 3:41 pm |
  47. george

    I think the man still think Medicare is not government run program ,this man is feed too much religion from his Church...unfortunately, their are too many just like him running around with no basic facts just as religion competition have done to some minds and that is hard change to make.

    August 11, 2009 at 3:40 pm |
  48. Abel Tsegga

    The Borgen Project has some good info on the cost of addressing global poverty.

    $30 billion: Annual shortfall to end world hunger.
    $550 billion: U.S. Defense budget

    August 11, 2009 at 3:38 pm |
  49. Shirley in Dallas

    Mr. Gergen,

    These people are in small numbers but their offensive and ignorant rants are making the news stations like the madness they provoke. I don't understand why this disruptive behavior is even being allowed. There should be an understanding at he very beginning that it will not be tolerated and those who do will be escorted out. There is no productive discussion when there is no control. I'm tired of seeing this whenever I turn the television on. These people are turning me off and causing me to turn the television OFF!

    August 11, 2009 at 3:29 pm |
  50. Fed Up

    Unfortunately NO. The Democrats are in control and they can and will do what they want. Regardless of the fact that the majority of Americans do NOT want the healthcare reform they are trying to cram down our throats. Since when does anyone think Nancy Pelosi cares about anyone but herself. President and congress should be mandated to be on the same plan they are pushing off on us. No more private insurance, provided by the taxpayers!

    August 11, 2009 at 3:21 pm |
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