Right wing vows to keep heat on health care

Conservative activists are vowing to keep up their fight against President Barack Obama’s health care plans, even as the Democratic Party pushes back hard, accusing Republicans of organizing angry mobs.

Democrats and the White House are claiming that the sometimes rowdy protests that have disrupted Democratic lawmakers’ meetings and health care events around the country are largely orchestrated from afar by insurers, lobbyists, Republican Party activists and others.

"This mob activity is straight from the playbook of high-level Republican political operatives," the Democratic National Committee says in a new Web video. "They have no plan for moving our country forward, so they’ve called out the mob."

Some of the activists who’ve shown up at town hall meetings held recently by Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Wis., and others are affiliated with loosely connected right-leaning groups, including Conservatives for Patients’ Rights and Americans for Prosperity, according to officials at those groups. Some of the activists say they came together during the "Tea Party" anti-big-government protests that happened earlier this year, and they’ve formed small groups and stayed in touch over e-mail, Facebook and in other ways.

But they insist they’re part of a ground-level movement that represents real frustration with government spending and growth.

"There isn’t any group that’s backing me, who’s influenced me, who’s pushing me to do this," said Robert A. Mitchell, a small business owner from Doylestown, Pa., who questioned Specter at a weekend town hall event about lawmakers failing to read legislation.

The exchange was captured on YouTube and has spread, along with other videos. One showing protesters mobbing Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, includes footage of someone holding a sign showing Doggett with devil’s horns; another shows Kagen shouted down at a forum at a library.

Mitchell said he was angered by push-back from the White House and it would motivate him to further activism, a view echoed by others.

"These are town hall meetings, and the federal government is trying to intimidate people," Mitchell said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele defended the activism, even as he denied the party was organizing it.

"We are not inciting anyone to go out and destruct anything," Steele told reporters on a conference call. "We’re encouraging people to go and visit their congressman or their senator."

"To sit back and say that this is some Republican cabal is a bunch of baloney," Steele said.

Obama referenced the opposition in a fundraising e-mail sent by his political group, Organizing for America, and asked his supporters to attend events to show their support for his health care plans.

"There are those who profit from the status quo or see this debate as a political game, and they will stop at nothing to block reform," the president said. "They are filling the airwaves and the Internet with outrageous falsehoods to scare people into opposing change."

The protests have echoes not just of the Tea Parties held around tax day this year, but also of protests during the Florida election recount in 2000 and in the early- to mid-1990s, when Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled the country to promote then-President Bill Clinton’s health overhaul plan, which ultimately failed.

There’s no doubt government attempts to change health care can incite real anger. In 1989, a pack of screaming senior citizens angry about a planned change to Medicare surrounded the car of then-House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Dan Rostenkowski of Illinois. They shouted "Liar!" and "Recall!" and hit Rostenkowski’s car with picket signs.

Congress subsequently undid the Medicare change.

One thing that’s different this time around is the Internet, which allows groups to communicate and mobilize on a large scale.

"We definitely use all the tools at our disposal," said Amy Menefee, director of communications at Americans for Prosperity, which is encouraging its many thousands of members to attend town hall events and is sending buses around the country, making stops for rallies and at some town halls.

Democratic lawmakers insist they won’t be cowed. The only way to respond is to try to get out the message about what’s really in the health care plans before Congress, they say.

"My concern is that some will be reluctant based on this experience and others around the country," Doggett said in an interview after describing the scene outside a supermarket in Austin, where he said activists shouted down constituents who came to ask questions. "We can’t let mob rule determine this."


  1. griff

    In my line of work I talk to many people on a daily basis. All but the most hardcore Obamanoids oppose the Democrats’ healthcare reform, regardless of political affiliation.

    I particularly like how the Democrats shrug off Republican opposition by claiming they don’t have a plan. As if a lack of their own plan means we must accept the only plan on the table. Perhaps no plan is the better plan.

    I also enjoy how Obama criticizes the “right-wing” groups for organizing against the plan, while at the same time recommending his own supporters organize in support of it. So I guess the only time you can organize politically is when you fall in line with the powers of the day.

    Maybe, just maybe, Main Street America is finally waking up to the ridiculous partisan games that Obama, in the same breath, both decries and plays an integral role.

  2. Dionysis

    Hey griff, what is your “line of work,” RNC operative or health insurance salesperson?

    Your claim that only “hardcore Obamanoids” (cute, in a juvenile kind of way), but there is NO factual support for this claim.

    The Republicans don’t have a plan, and the majority of Americans support health care reform. Doing nothing (standard operating procedure for the bought-and-paid for-Republicans and Blue Cross, er Blue Dog Democrats) is unacceptable and is costing this country dearly. Why do you support allowing insurance companies standing between the patient and their doctor? That’s exactly what they do.

    As for the point about Obama organizing supporters, if you can show where he (or his supporters) have bussed in hooligans for the sole purpose of denying free speech (“we’re for American freedoms…now shut up!”), then you might have a valid point.

    You guys have NOTHING but fear-mongering to use, and people are sick of it.

    There will be a health care reform bill passed, you can bank on it, even if the obstructionist party of greed and no ideas tries to thwart it, it will pass through the reconciliation process. These ridiculous efforts at ‘bipartisanship’ are a joke.

    Feel free to spew out whatever insults you wish; better wingnuts than you have done so, and it does not matter.

  3. woody188

    Check out this email the Democrats sent me:

    There’s been a lot of media coverage about organized mobs intimidating lawmakers, disrupting town halls, and silencing real discussion about the need for real health insurance reform.

    The truth is, it’s a sham. These “grassroots protests” are being organized and largely paid for by Washington special interests and insurance companies who are desperate to block reform. They’re trying to use lies and fear to break the President and his agenda for change.

    Health insurance reform is about our lives, our jobs, and our families — we can’t let distortions and intimidation get in the way. We need to expose these outrageous tactics, and we’re counting on you to help. Can you read these “5 facts about the anti-reform mobs,” then pass them along to your friends and family?

    5 facts about the anti-reform mobs

    1. These disruptions are being funded and organized by out-of-district special-interest groups and insurance companies who fear that health insurance reform could help Americans, but hurt their bottom line. A group run by the same folks who made the “Swiftboat” ads against John Kerry is compiling a list of congressional events in August to disrupt. An insurance company coalition has stationed employees in 30 states to track where local lawmakers hold town-hall meetings.

    2. People are scared because they are being fed frightening lies. These crowds are being riled up by anti-reform lies being spread by industry front groups that invent smears to tarnish the President’s plan and scare voters. But as the President has repeatedly said, health insurance reform will create more health care choices for the American people, not reduce them. If you like your insurance or your doctor, you can keep them, and there is no “government takeover” in any part of any plan supported by the President or Congress.

    3. Their actions are getting more extreme. Texas protesters brought signs displaying a tombstone for Rep. Lloyd Doggett and using the “SS” symbol to compare President Obama’s policies to Nazism. Maryland Rep. Frank Kratovil was hanged in effigy outside his district office. Rep. Tim Bishop of New York had to be escorted to his car by police after an angry few disrupted his town hall meeting — and more examples like this come in every day. And they have gone beyond just trying to derail the President’s health insurance reform plans, they are trying to “break” the President himself and ruin his Presidency.

    4. Their goal is to disrupt and shut down legitimate conversation. Protesters have routinely shouted down representatives trying to engage in constructive dialogue with voters, and done everything they can to intimidate and silence regular people who just want more information. One attack group has even published a manual instructing protesters to “stand up and shout” and try to “rattle” lawmakers to prevent them from talking peacefully with their constituents.

    5. Republican leadership is irresponsibly cheering on the thuggish crowds. Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner issued a statement applauding and promoting a video of the disruptions and looking forward to “a long, hot August for Democrats in Congress.”

    It’s time to expose this charade, before it gets more dangerous. Please send these facts to everyone you know. You can also post them on your website, blog, or Facebook page.

    Now, more than ever, we need to stand strong together and defend the truth.



    Jen O’Malley Dillon
    Executive Director
    Democratic National Committee

    I want to know how Jen “knows” these angry mobs are a sham and not just people fed up with being pushed around by the aristocracy of the United States. I guess the only way to figure that out is to ignore them and then see if they make good on those threats. At least that is what their strategy appears to be.

    Not very wise if you ask me. Take away the citizens avenue to address grievances and what have we got?

    Doggett: “We can’t let mob rule determine this.”

    Interesting, because isn’t that just what Democrats are doing by ignoring their constituents?

    R U Main Core?

  4. griff

    I would liken this to the bankers being publicly opposed to the Federal Reserve Act early last century, while they were privately all for it.

    Controlled opposition. A psychological game. If the insurance companies are opposed, then it must be good, right? If the Republicans are opposed, then it must be good, right?

    When in doubt, invoke the vast right-wing conspiracy. That’ll get ’em frothing.

    And all the while the insurance companies are working hand-in-hand with the government to hammer out an equitable stake while the desperate slave class hangs on their every word or action.

    A call to arms! Rally ’round your chosen master! Circle the wagons, the enemy approaches!

    The propaganda on both sides is getting to be rather insane.

    I don’t care who, if anyone is organizing against this takeover, so long as this legislation gets buried. Or, as the old saying goes…the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

  5. giving-up-in-nc

    Woody188 please specify which aristocracy that these people are fed up with.

    Are they fed up with the aristocracy of the insurance industry that stands between them and their doctors, makes huge profits off of their premiums, pays that aristocracy outrageous salaries with those same premiums, and will whenever possible deny coverage for their treatments.

    Or are they fed up with the aristocracy that is trying to challenge that aristocracy?

    There are two interesting articles on this site today. One about common sense and the other about the Republican party making a comeback.

    IMHO there is a fairly large portion of our population that has no common sense at all and are incapable of any sort of critical thinking. They just blindly listen to their party leaders. These are the people that are defending the current health care system. There is no reasoning with them so I am not even going to attempt to here. They, (and unfortunately the rest of us) will just have to live with the consequences of their ignorance.

    The other is the Republican party’s comeback. This shows the fundamental flaw of our two party system. IMHO in almost every way the Bush administrations 8 years was a disaster. The largest terrorist attack in the nations history occurred on their watch, they ran up a staggering debt, lied us into a war of choice and treated the constitution like toilet paper. And don’t forget he wanted to privatize social security. Imagine the mess retirees would be in if he rammed that through!

    Now after all that all the Republicans have to do is to convince a small majority of the people that the Obama presidency is a failure. Then they may get to run the country again!!!! And hey if they have to help his failure along by saying NO to everything he tries, or say he wasn’t born in the U.S. or some other lie, then so be it! What a system…

    Now if we had 3, 4, or 5 parties then that strategy falls apart. If party A sucks, and gets beat by party B, then party B sucks, party A is not guaranteed a comeback. Party C, D or E would be able to challenge A & B and would probably win.

    This would also make lobbying more difficult and more expensive. The big business lobbies would have to pay lobbying bribes to 5 parties instead of 2, and they would also have to make the members of 5 parties toe the line instead of two.

    But don’t worry that will never happen, the monied interests like things the way they are, and that goes for both lobbying and health care, so get over it.

  6. woody188

    Whenever I refer to the aristocracy of the United States I refer to those in the upper 1% of income earners. Roughly 1,500 people control over 90% of this countries wealth.

    “Or are they fed up with the aristocracy that is trying to challenge that aristocracy?”

    Hate to break it to you but they are one and the same.

  7. Siannan

    What everyone needs to realize is that when it’s all said and done, whether a public health plan is put in place, or nothing at all gets passed, we are all paying for it anyway. Because once a person gets ill enough to be treated in a hospital under charity care, that comes out of our pocket one way or another.

  8. storky

    Lookout, here come the unions! Dozens of unions are organizing members to attend town halls.

    I’m with ’em. Anything lobbyists can organize, unions can organize 100X better!

    Bye Bye, teabaggers! See ya, brain-dead birthers!

  9. bogofree

    Will Congress get the same wonderful health care program the rest of us will? If so, bring it on!

  10. griff

    If you must know, I’m a field service rep for an international computer company. I receive no benefits (my wife does) and no paid sick leave or vacation. If I don’t work, I don’t make money, so I work every day, as I have for more than three years now. I use my own vehicle, which will be out of warranty before it’s even paid for, and I pay for approximately 80% of the fuel I burn, which is approximately 3 tankfulls a week. I took a pay cut three months ago. I’m not complaining, I’m happy to be employed at this point.

    I meet and interact with a very wide cross-section of society, from the wealthy businessman to the struggling newlywed, the college senior to the retired autoworker. I also play in a volleyball league 2 nights a week at a local sports bar during the summer and a darts league in the winter. I talk to people and I hear the buzz.

    Just because most people want healthcare reform doesn’t necessarily mean that they support the kind of “reform” that’s on the table right now. This isn’t reform, this is a government takeover of the health industry, plain and simple.

    I don’t see anything in my comment that can be construed as supporting either the Republicans or the insurance companies. I tried to point out the idiocy of the partisan game that the majority of us seem to relish and believe to be normal.

    I happen to dislike the insurance I have for my own reasons, which happens to be touted as one of the best. Does that mean I should automatically support a government takeover of healthcare? Certainly not. The government has a long and storied history of destroying anything they try to reform, as evidenced by their various versions of banking reform. And you want to put your very life in their hands?

    I’ll take my chances with the insurance companies, thanks. Or better yet, I’ve learned how to take care of myself, because in the end, I’m the only one I’ll trust with my health or my life. I haven’t been to a doctor in more than ten years, and wouldn’t have it any other way. Insurance is for emergencies.

    So please, call me a wingnut or operative, or whatever you wish. It just proves my point, because I don’t rely on television or paid pundits to spoon-feed me my opinions. It’s always the uninformed or the ignorant that resort to such tactics. I prefer to read the proposed legislation and formulate my own opinion based on what’s plainly spelled out in black and white.

    And really, fear-mongering is solely a Republican endeavor? Both parties use fear to corral the uninformed.

    “A too great inattention to past occurences retards and bewilders our judgement in every thing; while, on the contrary, by comparing what is past with what is present, we frequently hit on the true character of both, and become wise with very little trouble. It is a kind of countermarch, by which we get into the rear of Time, and mark the movements and meanings of things as we make our return.” – Thomas Paine, 1777

  11. Carl Nemo

    Hi bogofree,

    Congress already has the finest medical coverage in the world bar none that doesn’t cost them one red cent.

    You can rest assured that they will keep their plan intact while the citizenry suffers under their cockamamie, nation-indebting nightmare of a health scheme. They don’t even make an effort to read the bills they pass nowadays and quite possibly never have so in recent memory.

    Congressmen get to keep drawing their pensions while in the slammer even if convicted of crimes while in office along with their SS benefits. A number of years back they passed legislation that deprives regular citizen felons of their SS benefits while serving time, but again, not them. There have been outcries for this to change, but it always dies in committee.

    They’ve become an out of control uber class along with their shadowy patrons that grease their palms 24/7/365 in order to keep the common citizeny oppressed and in debt. To them we are nothing but groundlings; ie., their prey and they the predators with us to serve their greedy, incumbent needs while in office and for us to suffer their nightmarish, byzantine, unread legislative creations.

    Carl Nemo **==

  12. anoyaliberal

    lol they just don’t get it now do they.WE the people are not organized by anyone paid by anyone or transported by anyone.. We are just fed up with the feds trying to take over our lives .We (the working class)that love our nation,are sick of them (the greedy rich politicians)(both parties)trying to ride thru life on our backs and passing all this crap that they say is good for us, just so they can add to the fortunes that they piled up for themselves.They are sitting in their white tower laughing at us while they spout their bull.Their was no 800 Billion there will be no free health insurance the clunkers they destroy are to make more money for the auto making rich ,and all the while they are deploying the federal fuzz to keep us in line if we happen to wake up. That’s communism folks and thats whats behind door # 1