It’s getting more and more “hostile” back home for House GOP

April 27th, 2011

SEE BELOW – it’s getting more and more “hostile” back home for House GOP that voted to end Medicare so millionaires can have another tax break – after facing “repeated heckling, boos and shouting matches” in their town hall meetings, now some are resorting to “screening questions” --- and the architect of the plan to turn Medicare into Coupon Care himself Paul Ryan felt he needed to “duck out a back entrance” to avoid local seniors waving “Hands Off My Medicare!” signs …


MUST SEE: WTMJ (Milwaukee): Paul Ryan Met With Sea of “Hands Off My Medicare!” Signs at Kenosha Town Hall


Politico: ‘Ryan dodges protesters in police car’.  GOP Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan had to leave his last and most raucous town hall meeting Tuesday Elvis-style — ducking out a back entrance on advice of police as protesters surrounded his car.  Ryan held four community meetings in his southeastern Wisconsin district Tuesday, and two of them attracted so many attendees that crowds of people — including reporters — were left waiting outside. The meeting in Kenosha, held in a hall with a capacity for 300, had an additional 200 gathered outside, with many of them protesting Ryan's plan to change Medicare.


MUST READ: Concord Monitor Editorial: Voters right to grill Bass on Medicare: Bass had the Republican script for such encounters. Traditional Medicare would be replaced not with vouchers but with a "premium support system." Please, Charlie, you're insulting people. Call it what it is: a voucher whose value increases more slowly than the cost of health care. The government saves money, but Medicare recipients pay a bigger share of the cost of health care every year. The nation's debt and deficit can't be reduced without doing more to control health care costs, including Medicare, but a voucher system is a heartless way to go about it.


Huffington Post: GOP Town Halls: Reps Forced To Screen Questions, Duck Out Of Meetings In Secret:


The wave of town hall protests targeting House Republicans, and aided by labor and progressive groups, is forcing lawmakers to put restrictions on the forum’s traditionally open structure.  On Tuesday night, Rep. Allen West’s office (R-Fl.) reportedly screened questioners during his town hall event by requiring individuals to fill out index cards which were then vetted by his staff.


NYT: House G.O.P. Members Face Voter Anger Over Budget: In central Florida, a Congressional town meeting erupted into near chaos on Tuesday as attendees accused a Republican lawmaker of trying to dismantle Medicare while providing tax cuts to corporations and affluent Americans. At roughly the same time in Wisconsin, Representative Paul D. Ryan, the architect of the Republican budget proposal, faced a packed town meeting, occasional boos and a skeptical audience as he tried to lay out his party’s rationale for overhauling the health insurance program for retirees… After 10 days of trying to sell constituents on their plan to overhaul Medicare, House Republicans in multiple districts appear to be increasingly on the defensive, facing worried and angry questions from voters and a barrage of new attacks from Democrats and their allies.


Washington Post’s Plum Line: Paul Ryan heckled by angry protestors: This will generate a lot of chatter today: According to WTMJ in Wisconsin, Ryan himself got a real earful at a town hall meeting from protestors who are furious over his proposal to end Medicare as we know it.


Seniors held up signs saying “hands off my Medicare,” and chanted that Ryan should “stop lying,” according to the report. Also note that Ryan was forced to leave in a different vehicle than he arrived in.


AP: Congressional Republicans go home to mixed reviews: Freshman Rep. Daniel Webster was armed with a rainbow of graphs and pie charts, ready to make the GOP's case for budget cuts before his own constituents. He was barely a minute into his prepared remarks Tuesday when the yelling started. The first heckler shouted his doubts about the Florida congressman's promise to do what is right in Washington. From there, the hour-long meeting in Orlando was filled with a constant stream of boos and questioners in the crowd of 300 shouting over each other.


Daniel Webster Orlando Town Hall


Orlando Sentinel: Angry crowd at town-hall meeting could be the norm for Dan Webster: A town-hall meeting held in Orlando by U.S. Rep. Dan Webster degenerated into bedlam Tuesday, with members of the crowd shouting down the freshman Republican congressman and yelling at one another. It could be a sign of things to come for Webster, a staunch conservative in a competitive district that Democrats hope to recapture in 2012.



WFTV (Orlando): Rep. Webster Faces Hostile Crowd In Orlando: ORLANDO, Fla. -- Freshman Republican congressman Dan Webster faced repeated heckling, boos and shouting matches between supporters and opponents during a town hall meeting in Orlando.


RAW VIDEO: Things Get Heated At Town Hall



CNN: Crowd turns loud at town hall session for freshman GOP rep: House Republicans back home for congressional recess have been getting some tough questions about plans to overhaul Medicare, but GOP freshman Daniel Webster's town hall meeting in Orlando, Florida, Tuesday was beyond tough - it turned into a chaotic scene. Webster used charts and graphs to try to explain the controversial House GOP budget he voted for, but he could barely be heard over angry yelling - mostly about the Medicare proposal.


Politico: Overflow crowds for Ryan town halls: In the district’s Democratic stronghold of Kenosha, at least 200 people were left outside once the 300-seat auditorium filled to capacity. The people in the crowd largely opposed the Ryan plan, holding signs such as “RyanCare = Dying Bare,” “Leave Medicare Alone” or simply, “Save Medicare!”  While Ryan spoke inside, the group rallied outside and ironically played Shania Twain’s “Ka-Ching,” which criticizes society’s obsession with money. As Ryan was leaving, they chanted, “Tax the rich, too!”


MSNBC: House Republicans regroup amid Medicare anger: The Republican plan to fundamentally restructure Medicare and cut social safety net programs like food stamps and Medicaid has at times been a raucously tough sell as its supporters head home and meet with their constituents, including Democrats organized against them. Even the architect of the plan, Rep. Paul Ryan, has been booed, though many of those attending four meetings Tuesday in his home state of Wisconsin were supportive.


CBS News: Angry voters crowd GOP town meetings: The town meetings in this mostly rural district are normally intimate affairs. But this week, constituents from Twin Lakes to Kenosha are being turned away as capacity crowds inside come to praise or condemn the plan Ryan likes to call the "path to prosperity." "Your plan screws the next two generations," one constituent is heard telling Ryan.


WNYT: Rep. Gibson defends Republican budget plan (VIDEO): It's 'deja vu' for reporters covering town hall meetings and for members of Congress, taking flak over health care reform. But unlike two years ago when it was the Democrats in the hot seat, this time it's the Republicans defending a plan to overhaul Medicare and Medicaid… Congressman Chris Gibson had some explaining to do in Malta on Tuesday night.



Outside Chris Gibson’s Malta Town Hall


Palm Beach Post: West, like Republicans at home district meetings nationwide, draws hecklers on Medicare: Inside the meeting, West was less than a minute into his remarks tonight when two or three men began shouting from the audience. "How about our Medicare that you're stealing?" shouted one. "How about allowing questions from the audience?" shouted another man, apparently dissatisfied with West's decision to answer written questions submitted by audience members before the meeting.

Sun Sentinel: Democrats turn tables on Republicans, disrupt town halls: Taking a page from the tea party activists who hammered Democrats at their town hall meetings two summers ago, liberal partisans are making signs, preparing pointed questions, and turning out for Republican congressional town hall meetings.

04.27.11 | permalink


April 25th, 2011




LA Times: House Republicans face backlash at home over budget plan Standing in a brightly lit bingo hall off a wooded road, a space that doubles as the dining room for Danny's Friday night fish fry, Republican Rep. Charles Bass should have felt a long way from the pressure-cooker of budget politics in Washington. But in many places, Democrats turned out to express their opposition, much as Republicans had done in the healthcare debate. In a Pennsylvania coal town, a man outraged by the GOP budget plan was escorted out of a town hall by police. In Wisconsin, Rep. Paul D. Ryan, the architect of the Republican plan, was booed in his own district as he outlined the proposal. He struggled to defend the GOP plan vigorously, once mischaracterizing a key element. By the time he left, he seemed less than wedded to the details. "If there are certain facets of the budget that are manifestly unpopular, I think that should be taken into consideration, but it's too soon," he said. "This is the beginning of a long conversation." … Some were openly skeptical of Republican promises that current seniors would be protected. "I don't trust these guys," said Barbara Walden, 77.


National Journal: Republicans in Swing Districts Take Heat for Supporting Ryan's Medicare Plan: Republicans who used seniors’ rage over health care changes to sweep into office last fall are now facing the same type of heat over the same issue: Modifications in Medicare and Medicaid. Many who voted for the plan House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., laid out to privatize the programs in future years have been in constituents’ crosshairs during Easter recess town-hall meetings. Others have simply avoided meeting with constituents. All but four House Republicans voted in favor of Ryan’s plan. House Republican leaders plan to hold a conference call with members Tuesday. Republicans with knowledge of the call say that it has long been scheduled, but that part of the call will be spent discussing ways to discuss the vote with constituents. One source says it’s intended to help swing-district members "who have been getting the crap kicked out of them." … some freshman Republican House members who were swept into office on that wave of hostility are facing the same experience.”


Politico: Freshman feel the heat back home: Any lawmaker in a swing district can expect to take criticism from his right flank at a town hall meeting. But at an American Veterans outpost tucked deep in the Pocono Mountains this week, freshman Republican Rep. Lou Barletta took heat from every direction — from Democrats angry with the tax cuts in the GOP budget, to conservatives who thought he caved on the last continuing resolution vote, to a precocious 16-year-old critical of the lawmaker’s environmental record. First Barletta was told “not to be steadfast in Paul Ryan’s Republican plan,” to “bend a little, work and come together to pass something that’s agreeable to everybody.”


ABC News: Republican Lawmakers Face Angry, Confused Constituents on Medicare, Budget Cuts: The backlash that some Republican members of Congress are facing in town hall meetings over their 2012 budget proposal rings a familiar bell. As Republican members take to the road during their two-week break from Congress to try and sell the budget proposal crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan, they are facing similar questions, though the outcry thus far has not yet escalated to the level that their Democratic counterparts faced. Americans are particularly concerned, and somewhat confused, about the proposal to overhaul Medicare, a central feature of the Wisconsin congressman's proposal.


USA Today: Republicans in Congress get earful on Medicare: Some Republicans in Congress are getting an earful back home over their votes to dramatically revamp Medicare for seniors. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who proposed changing the federal entitlement into a voucher program, got booed at such a meeting in his district last week. Rep. Charlie Bass, R-N.H., who represents a district that voted for Democrats Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential contest and John Kerry in the 2004 race, was questioned about Medicare in his swing district. So was freshman Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., who heard from Democrats such as Linda Christman at his town hall meetings. "You said nothing in the campaign about 'I'm going to change Medicare.' Now you voted for a plan that will destroy Medicare," Christman said.”


Washington Post: Republicans facing tough questions over Medicare overhaul in budget plan: Anxiety is rising among some Republicans over the party’s embrace of a plan to overhaul Medicare, with GOP lawmakers already starting to face tough questions on the issue at town hall meetings back in their districts. House leaders have scheduled a Tuesday conference call in which members are expected in part to discuss strategies for defending the vote they took this month on a budget that would transform the popular entitlement program as part of a plan to cut trillions in federal spending.


The Hill: Left hopes for town-hall rage of its own: If video of angry constituents haranguing members of Congress over healthcare reform captured the tone of that policy debate, Democrats and their allies hope that similar clips will emerge in 2011 to define the coming battle over Medicare and entitlement reform. If video of angry constituents haranguing members of Congress over healthcare reform captured the tone of that policy debate, Democrats and their allies hope similar clips will emerge in 2011 to define the coming battle over Medicare and entitlement reform. Left-leaning groups pushed the idea last week that Americans all over the country are outraged at Republican legislators and have been confronting them at town halls to voice their opposition. 


NPR, 4/22:  DANIEL KRAKER: People at the town hall were much less sympathetic to Gosar's vote in favor of the House budget bill that would significantly transform Medicare. It's a risky vote in a state like Arizona, where retirees known as snowbirds flock to the desert sun and vote in high numbers.  Ms. SUSAN COSENTINO: I'm horrified by the plan to turn Medicare into a voucher system. I think it'll just send the seniors into poverty.  KRAKER: That's retiree Susan Cosentino. The hundred or so people at the town hall in Sedona were mostly seniors. Another, Anne Leap, also works with retirees. She runs a small business connecting them with services they need to live independently.  Ms. ANNE LEAP: Seniors at the lower end are so frightened by all this, and seniors at the upper end, they're just - many of them are just outraged. It's a scary time for us.

04.25.11 | permalink

House GOP Facing “Angry,” “Booing,” “Tough Crowds”

April 22nd, 2011

House GOP Facing “Angry,” “Booing,” “Tough Crowds” Back Home After Voting to End Medicare, Give Millionaires Another Tax Break …


TIME, 4/21 : The Ryan Budget Vote: An Upstream Swim for Charlie Bass : Hillsborough, NH Rep. Charlie Bass knew he was in for a rough night. The first question out of the gate during his Wednesday town hall in Hillsborough, NH was about his vote for Paul Ryan’s budget. And the second. And the third and the fourth, fifth and sixth questions.


ThinkProgress, 4/20: ‘VIDEO: Paul Ryan Booed At Town Hall For Defending Tax Breaks For The Wealthy.’  During a town hall meeting in Milton, a constituent who described himself as a “lifelong conservative” asked [Congressman Paul] Ryan about the effects of growing income inequality in our nation. The constituent noted that huge income disparities contributed to the Great Depression and the Great Recession, and thus wanted to know why the congressman was “fighting to not let the tax breaks for the wealthy expire.”  Ryan argued against “redistribut[ing]” in this manner. After the constituent noted that “there’s nothing wrong with taxing the top because it does not trickle down,” Ryan argued that “we do tax the top.” This response earned a chorus of boos from constituents.


Allentown Morning Call (PA): ‘VIDEO: Barletta town hall gets heated over Medicare’ 

Wall Street Journal, 4/22 : LANSFORD, Pa.—GOP Rep. Lou Barletta sought to assuage fears during the town-hall meeting Wednesday by walking constituents through a series of charts illustrating the swelling costs of Medicare and the impact on U.S. debt if the program isn't tamed. But he was interrupted frequently during the presentation by people speaking up to air their concerns. Linda Christman, a 64-year-old Lehighton resident who last fall voted for Mr. Barletta's Democratic opponent, said it wasn't enough for the congressman to promise her that Medicare would still be there for her. Ms. Christman said she wanted to make sure the program would be there for her niece, her children and her grandchildren. "You said nothing in your campaign about 'I'm going to change Medicare,'" she said. "Now you're voting for a plan that will destroy Medicare."


Think Progress, 4/22 : ‘Town Hall Citizens Confront Rep. Sean Duffy For Voting To Privatize Medicare And Defend Tax Breaks For Rich.’  On Tuesday, Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) was the latest congressman to face the ire of Main Street America during a town hall event with constituents who stopped being polite and started getting real. First, constituents explained they were upset that Ryan’s plan would cut off people under the age of 55 from Medicare. Then, others directly challenged Duffy about defending tax breaks for the wealthy for voting to effectively replace Medicare with a voucher system.


CNN, 4/21: Freshman Congressman faces tough crowd back home, after budget vote Philadelphia (CNN) – In the suburbs of Philadelphia, freshman Congressman Patrick Meehan is spending his day running around his district, answering questions from his constituents. During the two week Congressional break, the Pennsylvania Republican is fitting in five different town hall meetings in just one day. … Meehan was asked about entitlement reform and Medicare at nearly every town hall he went to. Some of his constituents say they're worried about proposed Republican reforms to the Medicare system. "Reform usually means cutting benefits, if it's cutting benefits, no, I do not want that," says constituent Bette Popiel.


Daily Herald (IL), 4/16: [Congressman Robert] Dold couldn't even get to the end of the presentation before audience members began peppering him with questions about the Ryan budget, named after House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin … Some in the audience then told Dold they don’t like the idea in the Ryan budget plan of Medicare becoming a voucher program that makes senior citizens buy private health insurance about 10 years from now. Audience members said buying private insurance is a shell game where no one really knows what costs a company will cover or to what degree.”


Think Progress, 4/22 :  GOP Rep. Patrick Meehan Faces Constituent Anger After Breaking Campaign Promise To Not Privatize Medicare. GOP Rep. Patrick Meehan (PA) faced a “tough crowd” back home after voting for Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget proposal that would effectively end Medicare by privatizing it and handing seniors over to the private health insurance industry. …Meehan was asked about entitlement reform and Medicare at nearly every town hall he went to. Some of his constituents say they’re worried about proposed Republican reforms to the Medicare system.  “Reform usually means cutting benefits, if it’s cutting benefits, no, I do not want that,” says constituent Bette Popiel.


The Hill, 4/21: ‘Another GOP lawmaker's town hall heats up over Ryan plan’ GOP Rep. Lou Barletta's (Pa.) local town-hall meeting got heated on Wednesday night over his party's proposal to overhaul Medicare. Earlier this week, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the architect of the plan, was booed at a town hall in his district.


Washington Examiner, 4/22: ‘Republicans face town hall anger over vote for Paul Ryan budget (Video)’. The summer of 2009 was dominated by town hall anger against Democrats for their plans on health care reform.  Now, in the summer of 2011, Republicans are experiencing some backlash for their deficit reduction plan. 


Huffington Post, 4/21: GOP Reps Host Town Halls On Budget, Get Yelled At : Now, Congress is out of session and House Republicans are returning to their districts to tout the benefits of Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wisc.) plan to turn Medicare into a system of worthless vouchers, and guess what? Town halls are getting heated once again., 4/21: GOP gets a taste of tough town halls. In the summer of 2009, Democratic legislators working on health care reform were met with angry protesters at town halls in their districts. Now, Republicans home for a short break are seeing a similar reaction against the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). GOP Reps. Charlie Bass (N.H.), Lou Barletta (Pa.) and Robert Dold (Ill.) have all been hectored. And Ryan himself was booed. So far, the protests are scattered and have yet to approached anything close to the reaction to the health care bill in 2009.


Think Progress, 4/21 : More Republican Congressmen Face Town Hall Backlash Over Tax Breaks For Wealthy And Medicare Privatization. Earlier this week, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) held town halls across his district to defend his budget’s plan to end Medicare and extend tax cuts for the wealthy. During a stop in Milton, WI Ryan’s constituents made their feelings apparent, booing down the seven-term congressman when he defended tax breaks for the rich, as ThinkProgress first reported. Yesterday, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) received the same hostile reception from his constituents for voting to end Medicare. This town hall backlash is now spreading to other districts across the country. As Huffington Post reports, freshmen Reps. Robert Dold (R-IL) and Charlie Bass (R-NH) got an earful from their constituents for voting in favor of the Republican budget this month. During a Buffalo Grove, IL town hall, Dold caught a lot of flack for supporting corporate tax breaks and voting to end Medicare.


Times Union (Albany, NY), 4/20 : Gibson explains Medicare vote.   SALEM --  Some left-leaning constituents asked about [Rep. Chris] Gibson's support for continuing the 2001 tax cuts and were concerned with the proposed Medicare changes ...  The Republican budget plan, approved Friday largely along party lines, with Gibson's vote, seeks to replace the system with one in which future Medicare retirees would get a lump-sum payment to put toward premiums in one of several federally approved health plans.  Democrats have been blistering in their criticism, saying the "vouchers" given under the plan will "eliminate" the program as it is known, where seniors are covered for various health care services.


St. Petersburg Times (FL), 4/22 : ‘Proposed Medicare cuts bring out political swords’ . WASHINGTON — The intensifying debate on Capitol Hill over the national debt has seemed abstract for many Americans, with incomprehensibly big numbers and concepts. But throw Medicare into the mix and suddenly it's a lot more personal.   "From a political standpoint, Medicare reform is very dangerous territory," analyst Charlie Cook wrote in the National Journal in advance of Republican approval of the 10-year budget blueprint that contained the Medicare overhaul. (It would contribute to an overall $5.8 trillion in spending cuts.) "House Republicans are not just pushing the envelope — they are soaking it with lighter fluid and waving a match at it."   A Washington Post-ABC News poll released this week showed 78 percent of Americans oppose cutting spending on Medicare as a way to trim the debt, currently at more than $14 trillion. The poll should send chills through Republicans in districts with many seniors or those with a healthy percentage of Democratic voters.


The Nation, 4/22 : Town Hall Meltdowns, Hundreds Protest Cuts. It appears the GOP plan for slashing budgets isn’t receiving the warmest of welcomes from its constituents. Earlier in the week, a town hall audience booed Representative Paul Ryan when he defended tax breaks for the rich. That backlash was one of several town hall meeting eruptions that occurred across the country. Freshmen Reps. Robert Dold (R-IL) and Charlie Bass (R-NH) both received hostile greetings from citizens of their respective states. Dole caught flack for supporting corporate tax breaks and voting to end Medicare:  But Dold couldn’t even get to the end of the presentation before audience members began peppering him with questions about the Ryan budget, named after House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin. It began with audience members telling Dold they don’t believe chopping 10 percentage points off the highest corporate tax rate will create jobs.

04.22.11 | permalink

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