Unedited Memo To Self Re: Town Hall Meeting With Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) At Hagerstown Community College In Maryland / 8-11-2009 - J.L.
— Long lines 2 hours before event at 1 pm; maybe 400 or so inside; few signs in line; very orderly, quiet; demonstrations not allowed in area nearest auditorium where Cardin to speak.
— HCC President in intro thanks us for being “well-informed citizens” something I doubt I will hear when it’s question-time. But, I’m wrong. Some folks who asked questions actually knew some stuff, like what’s in Constitution and in some of pending health care bills.
— Some groaning heard in crowd when it is said that some elected officials are with us and will be introduced.
— Audible crowd murmuring when lady at podium says written Qs will be chosen by Cardin staffers (only 2, I believe of these read; then went to folks at microphone).
— In intro for Cardin it’s noted, among other things, tht he’s expanded Medicare & some dental program.
—In his opening remarks, Cardin says (paraphrase but very close to direct quotes) healthcare costs going up faster than our incomes; 47 million Americans have no health insurance; he wants to expand Medicare; negative yelling behind me breaks out when he says under pending health plan (plans?) you can keep your plan if you like it; all of us must be in a universal system so nobody has to subsidize anybody.
— To first written Q read, he assures us that debt caused by healthcare plan will not be on kid/grandkids of questioner; says flatly he won’t support a bill “not totally paid for”.
[A THOUGHT: Many folks here for NO PLAN; thus Cardin saying repeatedly that he wants to do plan “right,8 0 not rush this, blah, blah in no way mollifies these folks.]
— Re: question of euthanasia being in bill, Cardin’s point is tht people will simply be asked wht they want to do re: end of life; it’s voluntary to answer; no compulsion here; MY POINT: I DON’T WANT THE GOVERNMENT ASKING ANYTHING IN THIS SUBJECT AREA; DON’T WANT GOVT IN HEALTHCARE AT ALL!!
— First Q at microphone demands Cardin “cease and desist” from any healthcare plan, in the name of the 9th, 10th Amendments and the Constitution! Amen! - my kind of “question” - on the order of “shut up!, he explained.” Excellent! Cardin says something about how under Article I of Constitution Congress has the power to legislate on the “general welfare” and this includes healthcare. This first questioner notes Cardin’s view at odds with Madison on “general welfare.” I later raise this very this very issue with Cardin when I run him down behind the auditorium before he gets into a car waiting for him. He sticks to his Article I story though I tell him it’s false.
— Re: $9 trillion debt we have, Cardin stock reply is it gets worse if healthcare costs not controlled. Says he will vote for no plan that will increase the national debt. I told Paul West of “Baltimore Sun” I hope he files this preposterous quote away because the promise is complete crap. He agrees; says he has already written it down.
— Cardin says healthcare reform will give us “more options.” He’s signed on to no bill so all the blather is just that talk, generalities.
— More than one questioner, speaking of healthcare costs, raises “tort reform” issue. Seeking to leave impression he cares abt this issue, Cardin says oh, yes, he’s definitely for that “being part of the discussion,” that there is “a need to debate this.” When later question asks if he’ll introduce “tort reform” amendment to any healthcare bill, he says well, now, we’re not at that point.
— More than once, Cardin seeks to quiet some of the yelling screaming crowd by channeling Voltaire (you know, I may disagree with you but suppt to the death your right to speak freely - a bogus Voltaire quote, incidentally). He says, more than once, he says, well, I know that there are disagreesments here but, blah, blah, blah - which usually causes the screamers/yellers to scream/yell louder! He says tht even though some diagree he believes government has a “responsibility” to provide affordable, accessible healthcare to all.
— When Cardin says the healthcare bill will be paid for, many in crownd yell “How?!” Cardin says from within the healthcare system itself (?). Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa?! He begins to praise the way the Safeway grocery folks healthcare plan is working. Some folks in the crown with a brain scream: “But that’s private!” Cardin counters with him being in favor of a plan that “allows” the Safeway-type plan — mighty generous and tolerant of him, don’t you think? My Plan: LET SAFEWAY RUN OUR GOVERNMENT!
— Easily heaviest applause of afternoon comes when man at mike says quietly, deliberately that what he althcare bills are about is government control and NOT healthcare. Cardin again repeats tht well, there is a difference of opinion here this afternoon and “a fundamental difference” re: the role of government. TRUE! THERE’S THE CARDIN VIEW VS. THE CONSTITUTIONAL VIEW!!
[I am semi-encouraged by wht’s happened so far. Good news! Not EVERY SINGLE American is yet a complete moron!]
— The question of not trusting our govt comes up more than once in such forms as: How can we trust you when you’ve screwed up so badly and piled massive debt on us? Wht are you gonna do to restore our confidence in our govt? T o which Cardin replies, in part that he thinks Obama has started to restore confidence in our government. Lots of yelling and booing here. I tell cop next to me that if he has to swing into action be sure to taze Cardin first, that he can always say it was a mistake. He smiles.
— Man at mike asks where Cardin thinks “rights” come from? He simply reasserts his belief tht it is the govt’s “responsibility” to give everybody affordable, accessible healthcare. He says he simply wants to build upon the priva te healthcare system (right, wood, hay, stuble on private foundation - look it up in I Corinthians, I think).
— Medicare “very successful over the year s,” Cardin says, which is true for those defraudinf Medicare of - what? - from memory — $20 BILLION A YEAR!!!
— Genocide against the elderly? Nope. Cardin says he’ll suppt no bill that discriminates on basis of age for treatment.
— How would he address Medicare fraud, theft? Wellllllll, he thinks word “fraud” an “overused term” because some doctors do this or that because they think it’s needed; if they are wrong, then this is not fraud. Those who defraud Medicare, however, we “should prosecute and hold people accountable.”
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I say prosecute ALL frauds, which means a citizens’ arrest shd have been performed on Cardin!
[A THOUGHT: Where do Feds get authority to tell private insurance companies on what bases they may insure or not insure people - that, for example, they may not refuse to insure people with “pre-existing conditions? WHAT ABOUT PRE-EXISTING CONDITION THAT YOU ARE DEAD?!! Sorry, just asking…]
— Lady at mike says she just checked on Internet Cardin earlier answer and wht he said is wrong, apples & oranges. When asked earlier to name successful Fed operation (re: costs, deficits) he said National Park Service. Lady says her info says much private suppt of NPS by all kinds of groups and people who pay to go into Parks. So, wht he said earlier not like a Fed healthcare plan. Cardin juist stands there, grinning; no response.
— Cardin praises and says he’s proud of all govt workers in Maryland.
— After one question, a lot of the crowd, re: any healthcare plan, chants “Just say no! Just say no!”
— When pressed on effectiveness of Fed programs, Cardin says something about seeing “healthy babies” in Baltimore that are healthy due to Fed programs. This cause man in audience to start screaming about what I was silently thinking about - Cardin being pro-abortion, including p-birth abortion. The gist of wht the man was yelling abt was C’s hypocrisy - talking abt “healthy babies” when he’s for abortion.
— Cardin’s press aide had told me press could question him after Town Hall. When it was obvious this was not happening, that C was ducking out back to a car whose motor was running, I run after him. When I get out back, a TV reporter is interviewing him. I wait until interview over. Then this exchange takes place:
Me: Madison said the “general welfare” clause gives no new powers —
Cardin (obviously stalling since I have valid press credentials around my neck which he can see): Which press are you?
Me: The American View, WTHU radio…Madison said the general welfare clause gives no new powers, that it refers you back to Article I, Section 8 [of the Constitution, which lists the only categories where Congress can spend money.]
Cardin: I believe in Article I of the Constitution.
Me: And where in Section 8 is [spending on] healthcare authorized?
Cardin: I believe it’s in Article I. It’s in Article I.
Man Next To Cardin (looks like staffer): I believe he’s answered your question (which, of course, he had not).
Cardin: It’s in Article I.
Me: It’s not in Article I. The 18 categories do not contain healthcare.
Cardin: I believe it’s in Article I.
Me: It’s not. It’s not.