Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Right-wing opposition to healthcare reform

with one comment

They have nothing to offer, but they’re against any change. Weird. From the Center for American Progress in an email:

In what Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) called the "Superbowl of Freedom," several thousand right-wing activists chanting "kill the bill!" descended on the West Lawn of the Capitol yesterday to protest health care reform. The event was organized by Bachmann and Americans for Prosperity (AFP) — the billionaire-funded astroturf machine — and endorsed by GOP lawmakers. With promotional help from Fox News and conservative radio, organizers called the event "an emergency house call on Congress" to stop heath care reform. Bachmann urged her followers to "scare" members of Congress, saying, "Nothing scares members of Congress more than freedom-loving Americans." Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) pandered to the crowd, saying, "Pelosi care is the greatest threat to freedom I’ve seen in my 19 years in Washington." While conservatives touted a crowd size of up to a million protesters, Capitol Police estimated the crowd was more likely around 4,000. As has become the norm at Tea Parties rallies, some of imagery was radical and offensive, with one prominent sign showing a gruesome an image of dead Holocaust victims to warn that the Democratic health care plan will do the same for Americans. The protests came on the same day as two key groups in the health care debate — the American Medical Association and the American Association of Retired Persons — endorsed the House Democrats’ health care bill. The White House "seemed to pay little attention to events happening only blocks away," and House Democratic leadership is confident that the bill will pass this weekend.

ASTROTURFING: AFP, the corporate front-group founded in the 1980s by Koch Industries billionaire David Koch, worked closely with Bachmann to orchestrate the anti-health reform rally, encouraging right-wing activists to board their buses free of charge. Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) praised the protesters for arriving at the Capitol without any assistance, but AFP’s own staffers told The Progress Report that their group sent about 40 buses. Rep. Steve King (R-IA), a key promoter of the event, praised AFP for chartering the buses, saying it’s "as if Paul Revere had ridden across America." The Progress Report found at least a dozen AFP staffers standing at their designated bus drop off point near the Capitol, handing out signs, directions, talking points, petitions, and donuts to protesters. AFP’s daily activities are managed by Tim Phillips, an infamous astroturf lobbyist who built a career using Christian front groups to wage stealth campaigns. For example, his work includes fighting under the radar to promote energy deregulation for Enron and helping notorious lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s clients. AFP and FreedomWorks have been instrumental in orchestrating dozens of anti-Obama tea parties and town hall disruptions. The Tea Party Patriots’ listserv is managed by FreedomWorks staffer Tom Gaitens.

THE GOP TEA PARTY: Yesterday’s "HouseCall" represented the GOP’s strongest endorsement yet of Tea Party activism. The Tea Partiers have branded themselves as anti-government independents and many in the GOP have kept their distance thus far. But unlike the much larger 9/12 protests, which were chiefly promoted by Fox News personality Glenn Beck, elected Republican officials were the biggest cheerleaders for yesterday’s rally. As MSNBC’s Domenico Montanaro notes, "While other groups certainly got people to show up, the folks who came here ultimately came at the invitation of the Republican Party." In addition to "endless lineup of rank-and-file lawmakers and conservative All Stars" — there were at least 60 GOP lawmakers on the stage — party leaders like Boehner, Whip Eric Cantor (VA) and Conference Chairman Mike Pence (IA) all spoke, praising the activists and giving their full-throated support to the rally. As Politico’s Jonathan Allen noted, "By the time activists started arriving at the foot of the Capitol around 8:30 a.m., it was clear no Republican leader could stay away." And while the crowd was "staunchly anti-government," — "Politicians lie, people die" read one sign –  it "loudly cheered the House Republicans" when they spoke.

A RALLY BUT NO SOLUTION: Asked about the protest during his daily briefing, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, "There is a rally going on without a solution on their side." Indeed, the recently released GOP alternative bill does little to address the problems facing the American health care system. The Congressional Budget Office found that the GOP bill would only insure about 3 million Americans, leaving 52 million without coverage while doing nothing to prevent discrimination for people with pre-existing conditions, as Boehner himself admitted. And because the plan allows coverage to be purchased across state lines, insurance companies would be permitted to ignore "all of the consumer protection laws or restrictions on rate changes of the state." The overall goal of the GOP proposal is to reduce costs, but millions of Americans would remain uninsured and continue to pay higher premiums. In fact, many members of the Republican House Leadership would likely be unable to find affordable insurance under their own proposal, should they chose to give up their government-sponsored plans. Republican leaders hosted an 12-hour-long web-cast "townhall" yesterday to defend their health-care proposal and "kill" the Democratic bill. The event, dubbed "Pelosi Plan Exposed: 12 Truths about PelosiCare and Republican Alternatives," stuck to right-wing talking points about the government "taking over" the health care system and did little to present the GOP plan as a rational alternative to the Democratic plan.

Written by Leisureguy

6 November 2009 at 9:45 am

One Response

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  1. Well, what they have to offer is the status quo – you know, the idea that there is nothing wrong with the current system. Yes sir, everything is great. In the words of the stunningly clueless George W. Bush “Can’t they go to the emergency room?”.
    And we know who “they” really, really are don’t we?
    Perhaps people making less that 100K a year or so?


    6 November 2009 at 10:23 am

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