August 12th, 2009
03:45 PM ET
9 years ago

Maryland senator has boisterous town hall on health care

Maryland Democrat Sen. Ben Cardin has been holding a series of town halls this week.

Maryland Democrat Sen. Ben Cardin has been holding a series of town halls this week.

(CNN) - There were tears, fears and lots of shouting Wednesday when Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland held a town hall meeting on health care at Hagerstown Community College in his home state.

Dozens of audience members crowded two microphones to ask questions, and many accused Cardin and President Barack Obama's administration of seeking to
bankrupt the nation's future by overhauling the health-care system.

"This government is out of control. We are in debt up to our eyeballs," one questioner declared, her voice rising in anger. "What are you going to do to restore trust and faith in the American people that you know what you're doing?"

Cardin, often speaking above booing and shouts of protest, said he believes the government has a responsibility to ensure that all citizens have access to affordable health coverage.

Much of the crowd's anger focused on one of three House proposals approved by different committees. As a senator, Cardin is considering versions that differ from the House measures, and he noted several times that Congress would continue negotiating to derive a single bill from the various proposals.

He also repeated four times that he won't vote for a bill that raises the federal deficit, and explained how the goal of overhauling health care is to end discriminatory practices by the insurance industry while bringing down costs.

The more he spoke, though, the louder the shouts of protest became.

"How will more bureaucrats and probably fewer health-care providers make health care better?" demanded another woman, adding that the plan seemed to be a "takeover, not reform."

Cardin acknowledged he wasn't going to change the minds of his loudest detractors.

"I was told that the people of Hagerstown are generally respectful," he said, adding that "90 percent of you are listening to what I'm saying."

As he left the stage, a woman in the crowd screamed at him and broke down crying.

Filed under: Health care • Maryland
soundoff (138 Responses)
  1. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    Every tax is a loss of our freedom, yes this Government is out of control. I wish our Congress would put this much effort in spending cuts as they put into health care reform. If the money we earned wasn't tax at above 50% and had some kind of value, everyone would be better off.

    August 12, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  2. CF

    I dont recall any of these folks complaining when Bush was putting us "in dept up to our eyeballs." Hypocrites.

    Republicans had 8 years to reform health care under Bush. They didn't. They had four years under Bush Sr. No reform. Eight years under Reagan: no health care.

    So now they blame Obama for trying to get us out of the mess.

    Its like setting your own house on fire and then complaining that the firemen use too much water to put it out.

    August 12, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    How ironic it is that Maryland is Michael Steele's home state. He probably bussed the protesters to the town hall.

    August 12, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  4. Sea.gem

    Not every "citizen" has a right to Health Care as many have will bankrupt the country...because you are counitng illegals and all the children of illegals who are automatically citizens...this is then an incentive for continued illegal migration to this country on the tax payers dime...pathetic political vote farming! I am one of many who will vote any incumbent out who pushes this trash bill.

    August 12, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  5. Respect

    Down to social security, medicare, medicaid, foreign aid and political favors, they are a burden on America's economic future. If you don't work no money, once you stop working the government will only provide you with the money you put into the government socialism systems. No interest cause that is a burden on America. Down to fire, police, military, post office, and consumer protection. If it doesn't pertain to me then so be it. I want to keep my guns and hold on to my fake religion that molest children.

    See I can be dumb like a republican.

    August 12, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  6. alpha_nu_916

    this is what the republicans call democracy – shouting & acting like 3 year old children.
    where is the thoughtful discourse that can lead to change & compromise? guess the loudest mouth gets to eat first.

    August 12, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  7. Frank

    Americans are finally seeing the Republican Party for what it is – a purveyor of fear, lies, and outright hatred.

    They have put forward no alternative of their own. They ruled for eight years and ignored health care. And now, when people of good conscience try to tackle the toughest domestic challenge of our generation, they can respond only by disrupting the democratic process by shouting down those with whom they disagree.

    I suspect, and I hope, that fence-sitting Democrats have gone past the point of being fearful about moving forward and are now angry enough at those who want only to obstruct that they will be willing to move forward in the Fall, ingoring the Republicans and their goon squads.

    August 12, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  8. darrell

    Where has this faux "outrage" been over the last three decades as we've squandered monies to pay for bogus "enemy state" wars? This is more an expression of concern for home prices, or anti-obama sentiment, or lost job syndrome.

    August 12, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  9. Brennan

    People are stupid! If you are going to one of these town hall meetings PLEASE!!! Read all the info on Healthcare Reform Bill. Act like adults! And quit listening to the liars. We are Americans! Not Iranians!

    August 12, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  10. Predicta

    Another town hall with an another angry mob? I find it very hard to believe that all these town halls are staged by republicans. There just aren't enough of them to spread this to so many town halls. Additionally, Obama's NH town hall must have been staged, as this was the only one where people weren't getting angry and the questions didn't even address the issues that the people in the other 99 percent of town halls are expressing. It seems that Obama is lying about health care to the American public, just to get it passed.

    August 12, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |

    more Obama Socialistic Republic Non-America lies by the LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC side of the government. Obama, Congress and the House of Representatives need to remember, THEY WORK FOR THE PEOPLE, The PEOPLE are YOUR EMPLOYERS, either you DO YOUR JOB per your employer, THE PEOPLE WHO VOTED YOU IN

    or GET FIRED


    August 12, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  12. Not Mountain Man

    Geographics come into play here. This is not the D.C. or Baltimore suburbs nor Annapolis, but is, in realtity, Appalachia. Washington County, where Hagerstown is sited, went for Mc Cain 55.5% to 42.6%. The Senator also lost this area in the 2006 election.

    It's not about debt nor about health care. It's about the Democratic Party and who is sitting in the White House. This same element will not get the facts, but relies on "Fox" and "Limbaugh" and the rest of that ilk for their opionons. Too bad we can't have a civil discussion on a health plan, while not perfect, is not toally bad either.

    August 12, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  13. Zenichi-maro

    Having heard the town hall on CSPAN, I am confident that the Senator was one of the only sane people in the room. There were intelligent questions from critics, to be sure, but the overwhelming tone of the audience at this event was simply unchained. These are people who are letting fear rule them instead of actually bothering to find information and make decisions for themselves.

    It's really sad that the level of discussion and debate in this country has devolved to screaming matches on opposite sides of streets or aisles. I'm sure this is exactly what Jefferson had in mind.

    Cheers, and good luck to America getting any kind of decent healthcare system!


    August 12, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    Soooo, comparing this to the GOPer town hall meeting a couple articles down on the Ticker, which was apparently calm and respectful, why is CNN and the rest of the media pretending there is any doubt as to whether this nonsense is staged? The whole thing is designed solely to prevent Democrats from providing their answers to questions and giving people the information that, paradoxically, the angry people are pretending they want to get. Basically, it's a matter of "hey, let's act all angry and loud, making the lack of information our chief complaint, but let's not let them provide any of the information we're pretending we want, because we already know that it contradicts our position and disproves our talking points." WHAT IS SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT THAT BEING THEIR GAME?

    August 12, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  15. Lynda/Minnesota

    Will there be an Academy Award for the best crier, the loudest shouter, and pushiest pusher and the totally best ever fool at the end of the summer?

    If not, these town hall displays are really quite useless . . .

    August 12, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  16. Please, NO more republicans!

    Someone should have reminded that woman that bush already bankrupted this country with his illegal war.

    August 12, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  17. RJ- GA.

    Over hauling the Health Care System will help restore the spiraling costs of health care ! How can health care continue to be higher than inflation, if it was not caused by profit driven insurance companies ! The President and Congress have a moral and fiscal responsibilty to stop us from being one check or one illness from bankruptcy !

    August 12, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  18. FORMER republican, NEVER again!

    TO all those protesting against the Dems and President Obama and fighting against health care reform, what did the republicans do the last 8 years for you besides destroy this country and cause the deaths of thousands of American soldiers so Haliburton (cheyney's former company) could get rich?

    August 12, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  19. Jim

    Most of these folks that come to these Town Hall meetings are the elderly and they are on Medicare. Medicare is a taxpayer paid government universal plan. If they are so worried about Obama's plan then perhaps they should turn in their government funded Medicare card and try to buy insurance on the open market. That would certainly quiet them down!

    August 12, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  20. Enlightened Voter

    I didn't realize how dumb alot of American were to fight against their own best interests. Who in their right mind wouldn't want cheaper health care that won't deny you for a pre existing condition? No wonder the rest of the world thinks we are crazy.

    August 12, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  21. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    If people are looking solely at their member of Congress, they need to step up and offer different suggestions in writing to their member of Congress and the all the chairs of the various committees. Don't wait for someone to think of what you need - write in and tell them what you want and need!

    August 12, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  22. gl, From Pittsburgh

    Now I really believe the Repubicans are behind all these angry people showing up and screaming the same talking points the Repubicans have been screaming in Washington. If they don't like the plan, where is their plan?

    August 12, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  23. Willy Brown

    Buh-bye democrats!

    August 12, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  24. Christie in IN

    "As he left the stage, a woman in the crowd screamed at him and broke down crying. "

    Always a good way to get your point across. I wonder if this woman thought about all the people who were too ill to attend and without the money for meds or treatment are at home crying right now, because people like her don't care.

    August 12, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  25. abraxis

    The organized FEAR MONGERS should have their airtime. They should be allowed to voice their lunacy where their irrationality can be seen by the rest of the people who can then have a civilized conversation about an issue that effects us all.

    August 12, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
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