Congressman Tom McClintock's Town Hall Meeting

(Friday September 4, 2009)


om McClintock was welcomed to Grass Valley with a packed house — and a distinct lack of the vitriol that has plagued similar town halls on health care reform across America. About 1,500 people crowded into the Grass Valley Veterans Hall to ask McClintock questions and get answers about health care reform being pushed by President Barack Obama's administration. Because of the mass participation, McClintock held a second town hall immediately afterward, allowing for as many people to have their voice heard as possible. Cheryl attended both sessions, and Sue was present for the second.

The 4th District congressman opened the gathering with comments on how vital town halls are to America's democracy. “Whenever we sense our country's in danger, we rise to the occasion,” McClintock said. “We become actively involved and ultimately, we set things right.

“There are very serious problems with our health care system that must be addressed,” McClintock told the crowd. “But ... I am skeptical that a government that pays $400 for a hammer, $600 for a toilet seat and runs a $1.6 trillion deficit within a single year is somehow going to be successful keeping down our health care costs.”

Because of the relatively little shouting and civil disagreement among the crowd, McClintock was able to swim through his third forum in the district, answering questions from supporters, detractors and opponents fairly easily. Most people attending appeared to be against the proposed health care legislation.

McClintock asked the crowd who was in favor of the Obama plan, received loud applause, shouts and whistles. Then he asked who was opposed, and a thunder rose from the room as people stamped their feet, shouted and stood up.

“The whole health care issue has to do with socialism,” said Grass Valley resident Keith Boucher. “We have a big government, getting bigger and bigger and taking over more of our lives. We don't have a right to health care. We don't have a right to jobs. We don't have a right to a car. These are things that you have to go out there and get on your own.”

But while McClintock and others referred to bureaucrats rationing out medical care for people, local Dr. Christine Newsom said, “We already have rationing. The rationing is being done by the insurance companies.” Another king of rationing exists, Newsom added. “If you don't have money, you don't have health care. That's rationing.”

Many participants expressed concern about being able to choose their mode of treatment and their insurance carriers. “My patients should have the right to choose the right health care, and to not have it dictated to them by some politician or someone in Washington,” Dr. Lisa Hosbein said.

Others called attention to the use of the term “socialism” by those opposed to reform, saying the country already has a single-payer system. “Who here would be willing to give up Medicare?” one woman asked. A low grumbling arose from the crowd. Despite disagreement among the crowd about how to reform health care, people appeared to agree something needs to be done to make medical care and insurance coverage more affordable to those who need it.

“That is a system that is failing,” McClintock said. “We have got to shift to a system where patients are again in charge of their own decisions and their own choices. Freedom works....“That's how Republicans lost the majority,” McClintock said. “By turning their backs on their principles.”

Watch PBS News Hour covering McClintock's Town Hall Meeting in Rough & Ready.

McClintock showing debt chart.

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