Friday, August 21, 2009

Report From One Blue Dog's Town Hall Meetings FL-2 Allen Boyd

1. People who “have not” health care insurance are a new minority getting little sympathy from the “haves.”

2. If health care reform depends on Blue Dog Democrats, getting anything will be tough.

3. Many people in North Florida look at the federal government and see an evil axis of Pelosi, Frank and Obama that is hostile to them and their way of life.

4. Providers such as physicians and hospitals are not being heard.

I conclude this after attending eight Town Hall meetings held by Allen Boyd, who represents FL-2. He has announced a total of 14 meetings in his district and my hat's off to him for doing so. His service in Vietnam probably seems tame in comparison.

(I posted videos of what his constituents are saying on YouTube at grassrootsguy.)

When he mentions 47 million people uninsured, the crowds, and they are unprecedented crowds, leap to their feet in anger. They hurl the words "illegal immigrant" like brickbats and shake their heads in disbelief.

When he reads the section of HB3200 prohibiting health care for illegals, they shout "liar, not true, what about the rest of the bill." No matter what Boyd says, the people at these meetings worry that the evil axis and he have some card up their sleeve that will adversely affect the health plan they have.

The deepest continuing thread is fear and resentment of government intrusion of any sort and skepticism of government's ability to competently manage anything.

Boyd usually seeks out people on Medicare, Tricare (retired military) or veteran's care and asks if they are happy. They say they like their care. Then they, too, will object to any new "socialized" or "government" health care.

Although he was one of those responsible for delaying action in the House, he is accused, and Congress in general, of rushing through a bill no one has read or understood. A significant number of people clearly have read HB3200, listed their objections and are scared of its complexity. They refuse to believe Boyd has read the bill no matter what he says.

These first eight meetings have been in more rural areas of north FL from Cross City to Marianna. Those in the meetings are mostly over 55, 99.9% white and able to attend a meeting during working hours. Something more than 90%, by a show of hands, have insurance and like it and fear anything new will affect their insurance. The uninsured are not showing up at these meetings and not being heard, nor or is the provider community.

The people who do show up are real people with real fears. They feel marginalized by what they see as a foreign cabal of Pelosi, Frank and Obama, names they articulate with visceral disgust. They have difficulty explaining what they fear from these three except they don’t trust them. I think it reflects the politics of identity. These people in North Florida see no one in power in Washington that looks like themselves.

Pelosi's “un-American” put-down has energized them like the bombing of London did the British. Boyd's voters accuse him of treason for supporting Pelosi as Speaker.

Since that un-Aamerican remark, people in his meetings stand up and say, "I'm not paid to be here and I represent no one but myself and my family" and usually get a standing ovation.

Boyd has said he wants some kind of reform to help people with pre-existing conditions and those with no insurance through no fault of their own. The pressure against any change on this moderate Democrat in a conservative district is intense, at least in these public meetings. Supporters of single payer plans are few and silent.

He says he won't take a poll to determine his action, but it will take a real act of courage for him to support any reform. It has been an act of courage to walk among and listen to his voters.


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