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UPDATE: Here’s a link to the results of the CBO report that shows a $6 billion surplus projected over 10 years if the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 were enacted. (added by Clark)


I assume that Russ Carnahan’s Monday morning town hall on health care reform was part of Obama’s push to mobilize support for passing the legislation. I got a robocall this evening while I was out from Lacy Clay, inviting me to take part in a conference call about health care. Part of the same campaign, probably.

And maybe Carnahan convinced a few more people in the crowded cafeteria at Forest Park Community College that the current ideas being floated in the House are worth their support. Most of the audience members were Democrats, as you could tell by the vocal support when Carnahan mentioned the proviso in the legislation calling for a tax on the most affluent 1.2 percent of the population to help fund health care reform. But there were plenty of right wingers there who wouldn’t have been convinced of the need for health care reform if Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater had appeared in the flesh, with halos shimmering above their heads, and told them so.

The wingnuts were there to heckle. Listen to the tempest they raised when Carnahan said the CBO estimates that the new plan might actually accrue a $6 billion surplus over the next ten years.

There were plenty of other times when they booed or laughed or yelled, “Lies! Lies!”

Not that all of the heat came from right wingers. Quite a few single-payer advocates were in the room and they expressed their opinions–forcefully but in a mostly civil manner. They got in line at the mikes and had their say.

Despite the sometimes heated emotions in the room, Carnahan and the five people on the panel managed to dispense a good deal of information. Calmly.

But the bozos who think health care reform will send this nation to the devil provided an object lesson in the differences between Democrats at a Republican town hall and Republicans at a Democratic one. As soon as Carnahan announced that some of the questions would be read from cards that people had filled out, one yahoo yelled: “Gonna screen those? Or will they come out of a basket?”

The fella’s been attending too many Republican town halls. Hey, mister? Don’t assume that Democrats follow the same play book as your guys. At the Akin/Luetkemeyer town hall last April, the questions obviously were screened, and only after listening for half an hour or more to factually-challenged assertions from the two representatives, did one man speak up and point out that the Employee Free Choice Act did not contain any provision depriving workers of the right to a secret vote, as Akin was saying it did. The protester wasn’t voicing a mere matter of opinion. He was pointing out incontrovertible fact. That audience member was escorted from the room.

Admittedly, the questions Carnahan read off of cards–there were only a few–were screened. But anybody could have his say at the mike. Indeed, one of the right wingers did.

If I’d gone into that meeting with no opinion on the merits of the new legislation, the wingnuts would have helped me decide what I believed. The opposite of whatever they did. But the apostles of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, who find bombastic hatefulness appealing, wouldn’t understand those of us who don’t.