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Town hall meetings

August 30, 2009

Chaffetz at South Jordan town hallUnlike their Democrat counter-part, both Rep. Bishop and Rep Chaffetz are holding town hall meetings. I attended Congressman Chaffetz’ town hall in South Jordan on Wednesday night. Like the one in Provo the night before, hundreds of people were packed in, standing along the walls, sitting on the floors and squished into overflow rooms.

For the most part, he had an obviously friendly crowd but the anti-Republican crowd was much more raucous – and rude – in their behavior than the Utah County group. At one point, a proponent of federal oversight of public education stood and started yelling obscenities at the Congressman – this man LIKES “No Child Left Behind” and WANTS federal government oversight. Two senior citizens stood up, turned around and started to “take him on”. One of them started raising his cane at the first protester and that’s when the police stepped in and convinced everyone to just calm down.

The very first person to ask a question stood and addressed the Congressman as “Senator Chaffetz”, drawing cheers, applause and laughter from the audience as well as the Congressman who quipped “Thanks for your confidence”.

The questions of the night were healthcare, healthcare, healthcare, the economy, healthcare, Obama’s czars and more healthcare. Chaffetz took the opportunity to lay out the points that he and other Republicans believe need to be in any healthcare reform bill: giving states the option of opting out, tort reform, transparency, aligning financial incentives, health savings accounts, tax parity for individuals, portability, coverage for pre-existing conditions, true free-market competition (look at Lasik surgery, for example – free market competition has driven the costs down by almost 80%) and the absolute need to eliminate fraud, waste and abuse. Chaffetz also told the mostly-approving crowd that he is co-sponsoring a bill that would require any Representative or Senator who votes FOR the current proposed plan to immediately drop their private health care insurance and be covered by the “public option”.

Detractors in the audience continued to call Chaffetz a liar, saying that the health care bill “didn’t say that”, whether it was the phase-out of private health insurance, the end-of-life consultation requirements, the cutting of current Medicare benefits and more. Representative Chaffetz opened the bill, quoted the page number and the section and read to them straight out of the bill. The shouts from the floor then became “It’s not a bill – it’s just a draft”, yelled repeatedly, seeming to imply that “all that stuff” will be out of the bill before it becomes law. It is not just a draft, it is a bill that has passed out of committee and is on its way to the House floor.

Chaffetz answered questions for more than an hour and a half, to multiple standing ovations. After it was over, he tweeted “Great town hall last night. I truly enjoyed the interaction.” It’s obvious he does.

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