“Because We Won”

God, I’ve got a headache. I just got back from the Townhall Meeting with Rush Holt, and as promised I’ve started drinking. A lot. I need to. And maybe you will too if these things go through.

The meeting was scheduled to start at 7pm, so like a good anal-retentive type I got there at 4:30…and I was about the 20th person on line.

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Which was cool because it meant that I was lined up in the shade…and I got to see all the interesting folks as they were arriving

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pretty soon there was a decent sized crowd, and I have to say everyone was in a pretty good mood

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While I didn’t see any bussed in type folks, one thing that was pretty obvious was that you could instantly tell where someone stood on the plan simply by looking at their sign. You didn’t have to read the sign, no, just look at it, because without exception if the sign was hand-written, then the message was anti-Obamacare; if the message was printed then it was pro-Obamacare. Like I said, basically with out exception. Make of that what you will.

Part of the fun were all the fringe groups that were there. My old favorites the LaRouche nutjobs were making the rounds, handing out their informational tracts

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(the back page of which very helpfully features a picture of Obama with a Hitler mustache)

and some folks were handing out stuff touting just how wonderful our Single Payer future would be. Oh joy. There was also Mike Halfacre, currently Mayor of Fair Haven, who plans to run against Holt next Fall working the crowd, and everyone was in a reasonably good mood.

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Like I said, I got their fairly early, and it was a good thing I did, because soon the police came out and said that they would only allow the first 238 people on line into the meeting. There were certainly more folks than that there; how many is hard for me to say, as the line stretched around out of sight around the building (you can see some outside shots here; looks like there were lots of folks who didn’t get in). As we filed in we were asked to sign in and given cards that we could write questions on. Some folks grumbled but I have to say I had no problem with this, as it would prevent to some extent the rambling shouted questions. It also allowed Rush to say that he was going to give people who lived in the 12th District priority in questioning him, which seemed reasonable to me.

One aspect that was poorly organized was the limiting of the crowd. I have no problem with them only allowing in as many people as could sit in the stands, but that process only took 15 minutes, so by 6:15 we were all there and seated…and Rush wasn’t showing up until 7, which gave far too much time for arguments and shouting matches to develop in the growing-restless crowd. And they did. It was frankly very poor planning on their part.

Finally Rush came in and sat down whilst Bishop Riley of the NJ Lutheran Synod was the warm-up act. Not a brilliant idea, as he quickly set off a chorus of boos and catcalls by by decrying how horrible it was that “the first question people are asked in the emergency room is what is your insurance company.” Even he sensed that maybe he wasn’t helping things so he quickly sat down and Rush got up and gave a boilerplate introductory spiel about how he’s there to assist us in any way he can, etc, contact him for this or that (in fact when we went to DC a few years ago his office was very helpful in getting us a tour of Congress), all those little constituent service things that a Representative should say and be good at, and in fact Holt is good at those things.

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One thing he’s not good at is public speaking. He comes across as an academic policy wonk, which is not surprising because that’s exactly what he is. And in this environment and debate that works very much against him, because he really seems…out of touch with how business and life for the average person works. Again, as the only jobs he’s ever held have been either academic or governmental, this is not a surprise.

He started off with a general statement explaining why this health care reform was being done and what it contained (I’ll try not to bore you with too many details from my scribbled notes). His basic premise is that for the “majority of Americans the system is broken” and what he wants is to “impose elevated national standards” on insurance companies and eliminate things like lifetime caps on coverage and co-pays and to “require insurance companies to spend 85% of the premiums they receive on health care.”

He feels that people are not well served by their insurance companies now and he believes that we will be better served by the government forcing companies to “compete in an insurance store” (This seemed to be his answer to all of our problems; he said it so often that it got to be a running joke in the group of folks I happened to be sitting with) where consumers can choose amongst different options, with one of those options being a government run plan that would be a paragon of efficiency and cost-effectiveness. The idea never occurred to him that the government “forcing” companies to compete is like them “forcing” us to be friends, and that a system where the Government is one of the “competitors” is no competitive system at all: how can you possibly compete against the referee? Invariably the government will be the only player left.

The crowd was grumbling on and off through out all of this (and I would say the crowd seemed to me split probably 60/40 against the plan) but a lot of us had a good laugh when he said that “Medicare is successful and Medicare is solvent.”

His basic theme is that this bill will be funded by all these savings that will be realized by effectively putting everyone on Medicare.

Much like all those jobs that have been “created or saved” by the stimulus package (when one discounts the rising unemployment, of course).

Once he started going through the questions on the cards the crowd noise, especially from a few individuals who were just outright constantly obnoxious, started getting louder, and he got a little more ruffled and off came his jacket.

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His answers were fairly consistent, and always contained one or more of the following: “Medicare savings will pay for it”, “insurance store”, or, my personal favorite, “maybe”, which was the answer always given when the question was the type that you or I would answer “yes” or “no” to, although at one point he did say “it remains to be seen how much savings there will be.” My guess is the savings will be somewhere between “zero” and “none”, but your mileage may vary.

One of the best joke lines of the night was when he answered a question about Medicare fraud by saying that it really doesn’t exist because “people are required to report Medicare fraud” and since “very little fraud is reported” the problem is a “very small percentage.” I guess since very few people turn themselves in to the police for using their cell phones or texting while driving that indicates that those things don’t go on, either. Head, sand.

He’s proud that he “worked on Cap and Trade extensively, and felt it didn’t go far enough” and that it was a “mystery” to him why the Republicans weren’t “at the table to make the Health Bill better.” Things got a little testy when he made a comment about “some of the noisemakers in the crowd” to which they replied “we’re CONSTITUENTS!”

He was asked “why are we moving so fast” to which he replied that “the country won’t recover if we are saddled with these health care costs; time is of the essence; it’s not happening fast enough.” Not having a PhD in physics I am unable to grasp the concept of how spending trillions and creating a massive new bureaucracy “unsaddles” those costs, obviously. But since he seems to think that this will cost “only 1 trillion”, which I guess is chump change by his standards, then it’s all good.

There was a rather revealing moment in a subsequent question along these lines, which asked “why are you forcing this plan on us?” and the response from the more vocal supporters of the plan was “because we won the election!” which I thought was a particularly nice gesture from the “building bridges and community” crowd.

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Afterwards most folks wandered out, some stopped to wiggle betwixt the police to have a word or two with him. No one’s mind was changed, blood pressures were elevated, but I will give him credit for at least facing his constituents.

38 Responses to ““Because We Won””

  1. JeffS says:

    Yes, he spoke with y’all, but I don’t think he was listening, from what you say.

  2. […] My friend Mr. Bingley went to Rush Holt’s town hall meeting, and has a report, aptly titled, Because we won. […]

  3. Retread says:

    JeffS: I’m sure Holt thinks the attendees were supposed to listening rather than the other way around.

  4. BillD says:

    Nice post. Reminded me of a lot of the garbage he was spewing (Or lecturing us on) during the meeting. On another note. Do you know if we have a tea party, or other group where we can each keep each other updated on what is happening in our district/county? We really need to get organized. Now is the time. 2010 is right around the corner. As far as the guy running against Holt. His name is Mike Halfacre (http://www.mikehalfacre.com/) He’s our mayor here in Fair Haven, and has done a great job in cutting costs, and listening to the people he represents. A far cry from Rep Holt. If anyone has any info on a group that can provide any info, please let me know… bill_douma@yahoo.com

  5. Mr. Bingley says:

    Hi Bill, thanks for the kind words. I’ll look at some of the literature that folks were handing out while we were waiting on line; I took all of it from the loony LaRouche stuff to the PrObama stuff. I think there was something about a local Tea Party organization in it.

  6. Joe says:

    Excellent post. I was one of the less anal late comers watching from outside. There were several hundred folk around the back where a mic was set up for anyone who wanted to could speak. I’d say it was more like 80/20% against outside. A lot of seniors were very much against it based on their medicare experience. Some who supported it had some genuine bad luck or friends with bad luck which I do sympathize with however a massive government takeover of the medical industry is NOT the answer…

  7. Dagnabbit ~ BillD…sorry, Joe.

  8. BillD says:

    Thanks Everyone. We just really, really, really need to keep on top of this. 2010 is going to be here before you know it, and Holt garnered 61% of the vote last time. We need to get at least 12% of that vote away from him. and if you have any more info, please feel free to e-mail me.

  9. Gary from Jersey says:

    Great post, Mr. B. Very thorough. I wonder though if those question cards went directly to him or did some lackey edit them so hecould say things like there’s no fraud in Medicare.
    By the way. Add me to any tea party list in Jersey.

  10. Chris says:

    Nice report, Mr. Bingley, especially since I couldn’t make it inside!

  11. Jim says:

    Sounded MUCH like the Pallone road show, although Pallone at least had the good sense to run 2-3 sessions to get as many in. However, all they do is to “shade the truth” to meet their needs.

    PALLONE PRACTICALLY LIED THOUGH…about illegals not allowed on the plan. What he didn’t say was that they have not been specifically excluded and that’s a slipper slope. THE CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH OFFICE agrees with FAIR.

    http://www.fairus.org/site/PageNavigator/legislation/legislative_resources/Legislative_Analysis/

    Pallone also was delusional with his comments that he believed his constituents were FOR this, despite the large outpouring against.

  12. tree hugging sister says:

    BillD, were you aware Bingley’s running for Governor?

    You can send a check to me. I’m in charge of campaign funds.

  13. V Elliott says:

    Great post! I was handing out the Health Care Reform report from Washington State Policy Center. I hope you read it, because it not only makes the case against gov’t run health care, but also provides an alternative that three States are implementing successfully now. The great part is, from what I can gather, it didn’t even cost millions to implement. The way I introduced it to people was so that I could get it into the willing hands of the supporters.
    The next big tea party will be in DC on 9/12. Such a coinky dink that Rush scheduled his next town halls on that very same day.
    I ended up outside with Mike Halfacre’s group, and from what I read about what happened inside, I’m glad I didn’t get in, I would’ve been more po’d than I already was. haha!

  14. Julie says:

    I can’t believe LaRouche is still around. Aren’t his 15 minutes up yet?

  15. Mr. Bingley says:

    Julie, he’s got to be 107 or something.

  16. El Campeador says:

    “tree hugging sister says:
    August 27, 2009 at 2:48 pmBillD, were you aware Bingley’s running for Governor?

    You can send a check to me. I’m in charge of campaign funds.”

    Oh my God…Rubber chicken circuit…Increase in flatulence level. Eric isn’t going to care for that, at all Bingster. :)

  17. Rob Ski says:

    Great report. Thank you for all the details. I was outside till 9:30 and Rush Holt did not even stop by to talk to more than 1000 people. They don’t care what we say or do. They are clearly disconected from reality and operate on “remote” from Washington. Keep the pressure, vote them out in Nov. and see if that “cold shower” helps or are we watching our own “1984” by George Orwell.

  18. Jim - PRS says:

    Nicely done.

    I love the “compete with the government plan” baloney. Nothing like having a competitor with a bottomless pit of (our) money and no need to turn a profit.

  19. dman says:

    Had encounter with this A Hole
    couple years back at Momounth
    County fair – was working crew
    Walked up to me, thrust his
    hand out yelling “RUSH HOLT”

    Told him point blank “I not
    voting for you!” “One I’m a
    Republican Two live in Passaic County”

    Acted like I was radioactive!

    Must have jumped back about 6 feet! Funny as all hell…

  20. LSH says:

    The Morristown Tea Party is holding a rally in Morristown New Jersey on Sept. 7th on The Green, from 11-2p. Major talk radio celebs are on the speaker line up and we expect a large crowd.

    The National Taxpayer March on Washington will be on Sept 12th. Buses are being organized out of various NJ locations. If you would like to atttend check out themorristownteaparty.org for more information.

  21. Daniel says:

    JeffS says:
    August 27, 2009 at 9:17 am

    Yes, he spoke with y’all, but I don’t think he was listening..
    ======================

    That’s the predominant theme for all of these town hall meetings.
    We noticed that in Towson, Maryland, when Sen. Cardin delivered his speech, too.

  22. ibid says:

    “JeffS says:
    Yes, he spoke with y’all, but I don’t think he was listening, from what you say.”

    You can bet he will listen next November.

  23. Rob says:

    Thanks for the report. My parents live in his district and are apparently ill-served by this bozo.

    Did you keep any of the pro-Obamacare info? I was wondering who printed it. I’m always on the lookout for those astroturfers.

  24. […] a good bit more liberal than you’d expect from somebody in a D+5 seat; and if this report is correct he’s not handling well being on the other side from actual […]

  25. […] a good bit more liberal than you’d expect from somebody in a D+5 seat; and if this report is correct he’s not handling well being on the other side from actual […]

  26. Joan Chevalier says:

    This piece was extremely interesting to me. Like Bill Douma, I am now trying to organize against Nita Lowey in NYDistrict18@yahoogroups.com. I am a registered Democrat. While Republicans in my view are tone deaf to what is bugging Americans most of the time (health care and growing income disparities had been among the top two before the econmy went into the toilet), Democrats can’t find a strealined, focused, pragmatic solution to save our lives! Their overreach and arrogance is infuriating. I am so fed up. I recently published an essay on the DNC reaction to the town halls on a good site, FemiSex, that also has a great description of a Nita Lowey telephone town hall! The link to my essay is attached below. But once on the site, you can find the Lowey piece that also has a great discussion of reform and the public option. Very independent-minded women. Great stuff.
    http://www.femisex.com/content/benign-vs-malignant-a-new-day-liberal-politics
    Oh, PS, I did have some contact once with Rep Holt and his office on a policy issue out west. I was shocked at how self-promoting and vain an academic can be. You can google me to find my email — just in case someone from NYDistrict18 shows up on this site. I’ll join you in some libations. . . . by the by.
    Joan Chevalier

  27. mike says:

    Thanks for the report.

    As a liberal, I am done with building bridges since it is the GOP that is trying to stand up against real reform.

    I think it is time to push universal health care through whether the insurance industry and Glenn Beck types like it or not!

    Mike
    Reverend in Christ

  28. Mr. Bingley says:

    Rob – I did keep it. The pro-Obamacare pamphlet was produced by the Teamsters…not a big player locally in our District, that’s for sure.

    On the other side the anti-stuff was of mixed parentage: the LaRouchians clearly were bussed in but there were a few things that looked of local origin.

  29. Mr. Bingley says:

    Joan, I think both parties are to a large degree ‘tone-deaf.’ They seem to me to be solely concerned with using the Treasury to keep themselves in power, consequences be damned.

    I want both liberal and conservative voices in Congress, I think that’s vital, but more importantly i want people who can admit that they are wrong.

    And I don’t see that in any of them.

  30. Mr. Bingley says:

    Mike, I know math can be hard some times, but the fact is it is Democrats who are ‘standing up to real reform’. The Democrats have absolute majorities in both Houses and can pass any bill THEY can agree upon without a single R vote…but they can’t agree.

    So you can try and drop all the rhetorical handgrenades you want (and I happen to think Glenn Beck is way to far out there for me, fwiw) but the fact is that there are decent thoughtful folks on both sides of the aisle that are saying “wait a minute.”

    And I’m thankful for them.

  31. NJ Sue says:

    I actually like Rush Holt and have voted for him twice, even though I am a registered Republican. I feel that he has done a good job representing the interests of his district, and he is an honest and well-meaning person. However, I am extremely concerned about the prospect of a badly conceived, horrendously expensive health care bill being rammed through Congress, and this issue is important enough to my daily life that I don’t know if I can support Holt again.

  32. PMain says:

    Had similar experience in San Diego on Sat w/ Susan Davis. She said that she’d vote her conscience over the will of her constituents. Most were amazed that she had a conscience

  33. nightfly says:

    There’s one thing about the debate that establishes the terms of discussion on a false premise – and people never catch it – and that’s the phrase “health care reform.”

    Health care is NOT the issue. Health INSURANCE is. This is a debate about health insurance, not the actual care provided. Anybody and his twin can walk into an emergency room and receive health care, and they are forbidden to turn you away, regardless of your ability to pay for the services.

    The insurance system, as it stands, could do with some improvement… so let’s discuss that, and call it what it is. To say “health care reform” is misleading and distorts the process.

  34. WWJD says:

    Jesus would be for universal health care.

  35. […] folks thought it odd that with so many people wanting to get in to his last town meeting Rush Holt only held one session, leaving hundreds outside who became easy prey for a challenger for […]

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