August 13, 2009

Health care debate: some things are ok to talk about

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In Montana, there’s concern about President Obama’s Friday visit to talk health care at a town hall near Bozeman. The local Republicans have refused to sign a “civility pledge,”  telling the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that it’s an attempt to shut them up. The Democrats say things are getting so out of control that when Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., arrived at a recent event he was surrounded by 150 angry people shouting accusations like “traitor.”

“We are law-abiding, respectful people,” said Billie Orr, chairwoman of the local Replublican Party. “But we also know that we have the right to stand up and have our voices be heard.”

In Everett, WA, Wednesday a crowd of nearly 3,000 people showed up for more than two hours of town hall health care debate at a town hall debate hosted by Democrat Rep. Rick  Larsen. The Seattle Times reports that it “occasionally threatened to break into partisan rancor. Hand-lettered signs peppered the bleachers, with supporters of President Obama’s health proposals massed on the southern end of the baseball stadium and many foes on the other.” Another Washington state congressman, Democrat Rep. Brian Baird, reversed himself and said he will hold health care town halls after all. Baird earlier said he would not, citing the incendiary nature of the health care town halls around the nation. Baird said he will hold five town halls in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, the debate has grown so raucous that notions like broadening health care reform to include illegal immigrants is simply off the table, writes the LA Times. The issue is so sensitive that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, has made apoint of saying that illegal immigrants are not included.  The Congressional Hispanic Caucus issued a statement that only “legal, law-abiding” immigrants would be covered. Federal law, however, entitles illegal immigrants to emergency health care — the most expensive kind. The kind we all pay for, anyway.

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