August 17th, 2009
07:32 PM ET
1 year ago

Blue Dog: 'Excellent idea' to start over on health care reform

 Rep. Allen Boyd said Monday that it would be an 'excellent idea' to start over on health care.
Rep. Allen Boyd said Monday that it would be an 'excellent idea' to start over on health care.

PERRY, Florida (CNN) – Acknowledging his amazement at the crowds gathered to debate health care at his town halls, Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Florida, faced three large gatherings on Monday with many questioners voicing skepticism about the proposals being debated in Washington.

"Never have I had this attendance ... that is a good thing," Boyd said as he started his third event of the day.

Boyd, in his seventh term, represents a conservative area in northern Florida. A fiscal conservative, he is part of the group of House Democrats known as the Blue Dogs.

At the first event of the day in Cross City, he held up a copy of the bill passed by the Energy and Commerce Committee and embraced by the congressional leadership.

"I cannot support this bill in the version it is in now," he said. "We can do better. We can make it better."

Related video: Blue Dog says no to bill

He emphasized to the skeptical crowds that he will work to reduce quickly-rising medical costs; that any bill must not add to the deficit; and that Blue Dogs like himself fought to delay consideration by the full House of Representatives to allow members to hear directly from constituents during the August recess.

When a questioner, Ray Evans, said he believed the President wants to do too much at once and asked whether Boyd would "be willing to scrap everything" and start over to do pursue reform more incrementally, the congressman responded: "I think that is an excellent idea ... we may end up there."

In a later interview with CNN, he said the idea had been been floated with the congressional leadership. He said that with the strong emotions and heated opposition he is seeing, the idea of doing health reform in a more piecemeal fashion is something he is strongly considering.

A large number of those asked questions at Monday's events said they did not feel the government should play any bigger role in society.

"Government is supposed to be for the people. [It] already took over banks and the car industry. We don't want to take over the health industry," said one questioner, Ann Millard. "If government gets involved, the insurance industry can't compete with the government."

A hot topic at each of Monday's events was whether illegal immigrants would receive benefits under the bills under consideration – an unpopular idea as judged by the audience reaction when the topic was mentioned. Each time an audience member declared illegal immigrants should not received any benefits, the remark was met by strong applause.

"This comes up at every meeting," Boyd said in Perry. Earlier in the day, he quoted directly from the bill.

"Page 143, line 3,” he said. “No federal payment for undocumented aliens; nothing in this subtitle shall allow federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States. Does that answer your question?"

Still, the crowds were never unruly - although at times they would make it known when they heard something they didn't like.

The congressman worked hard to prevent the kind of unruliness seen at other town halls around the country. He suggested that his town halls should be an example of southern hospitality.

Several questioners confronted Boyd, saying he is siding with the Democratic congressional leadership, particularly House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, rather than representing the views of the more conservative constituents.

"Somewhere along the way you drank the Kool-Aid," one person in Perry told him.

"If we let Pelosi and people like that direct us we are doomed, we are doomed," business-owner Joe Anderson said in Cross City, at which point the crowd erupted in cheers.

Boyd did not defend Pelosi, but moved on to other subjects and said he understands his first mission is to do what his constituents want. Boyd was re-elected last year with 62% of the vote in his district.

The Republican National Committee is currently running an ad trying to drive a wedge between Boyd and his constituents. "The dangerous experiment President Obama and the Democrats in Congress want just can't be the right answer ... The question is what Congressman Boyd will do."

Some audience members left feeling the congressman avoided directly answering their questions.

Several people at different events asked whether Boyd would vote to mandate that members of Congress get the same coverage Americans would get under the bill.

His response did not go over well with the audience: "Let me make this clear. I don't want all Americans to have the same. I want you to have your choice about what you have."

When a questioned pressed him for a yes or no answer on whether it was irresponsible for a member of Congress to vote on a bill without reading it, he said, "We need to understand what is in the bill."

When he noted that sometimes a member of Congress has to vote on a bill without fully reading the legislation because to time constraints, me was met with boos. He added: "We ought not to vote on bills we don't understand."


Filed under: Florida • Health care
soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. Richie

    SINGLE PAYER. We need single payer now. If you don't like how some other country has done it, fine, we're American, we can do it better. But we need to do it NOW.

    August 17, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  2. lets talk

    its a Public commodity-Private commodity discussion.

    There are those of us who believe education and health care are public goods to be available to all citizens, the cost bore by all taxpayers, because the result is that all taxpayers will benefit.

    And those of us who want to package health care and education into profit based opportunities, to be bought, sold, and borrowed upon in a free- market....

    In the end you say education or health care is a privilege not a right

    but I counter that making a profit is not a right either. Its a privilege.

    August 17, 2009 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  3. New Day

    too busy keeping his job to do his job.

    August 17, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  4. j

    These crazies that are show up at these town halls don't represent me! CNN likes to show red Republicans districts. But ,what about us big city folks. CNN loves the pictch folks and torch crowds.

    August 17, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  5. Neither to the Right- Nor to the Left

    I'm for a more radical overhaul of Healthcare than what Obama is proposing. I'd like to see some really smart people come up with a solution that actually takes insurance companies totally out of the equation. They don't provide care. They're in it to make ever skyrocketing profits out of our pain and suffering. We need third parties out of the deal.

    August 17, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Good for Rep. Boyd, I'm glad he stands up for his constituents and what he believes in, not simply giving in to pressure from his own party. I'd be proud to have him as my representative, obviously his constituents will be re-electing him.

    August 17, 2009 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  7. Pat Allen

    I think it would be an excellent idea for Allen Boyd to start over in a new career ... particularly one that does not offer him taxpayer funded health care as he now has at my expense.

    August 17, 2009 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  8. Lilarose

    All the questioners are anti-Obama.

    Where are the 46 million UNINSURED Americans at these rallies?

    Let's be fair folks! That means you, CNN!

    I am for firing all of Congress and starting over.

    August 17, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  9. Dianne

    Allen Boyd you are just what the republicans need. When Bush was in office both times, many laws were passed at the expense of regular hard working Americans. The republicans stuck together and rammed their various greedy agenda through both houses. Thanks for your leadership to the Dems and regular Americans for following the republican lead. I hope all dems remember when elections come exactly where you stand.

    August 17, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  10. Dave in Albuquerque

    Translation: delay, delay, delay, until the thing dies. That way, the insurance companies continue to get rich as Americans go bankrupt paying for "non-covered" expenses. Thanks for nothing, Senator.

    August 17, 2009 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  11. SS

    Can someone give me the simple version of health care reform? Perhaps this will highlight the areas for improvement and areas of greed?

    August 17, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  12. Ted Tartaglia

    Boyd sounds reasonable but it sounds like some of his constituents are highly partisan. When one is for or against legislation solely because of which party is sponsoring it, that person is displaying his or her ignorance. One should form an opinion on legislation based on the content of the legislation.

    It sounds like the Repubs and theri supporters are exercising the slash and burn politics of Lee Atwood and Karl Rove. They have fine tuned the art of spreading fear and hate.

    August 17, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  13. Typical Republican

    RIGHT on.....He gave up like Palin! He ain't no Democrat...he's a republican. He gives up on stuff! I love em when they give up. I like my representatives like me.....irresponsible and incapable of any progress. That's why I'm a republican....because all of our leaders are like that! Good to see a few moron democrats out there. I'm tired of being the only retardds in this country. It's not fair. it's someone elses turn to be completely incapable of any progress.

    August 17, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  14. Carole

    Like his Republican comrad Grassley said 'Put your finger in the dyke.', stall, stall, stall........I am glad you and your family enjoy having health coverage we all pay for.

    August 17, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  15. cspurgeon

    He needs to be voted out and term limits on all of them. Then they wouldn't have the fat benefits and the deep pockets. That goes for all!

    August 17, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  16. ThinkAgain

    How much money has the insurance industry given to Rep. Boyd?

    August 17, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  17. Mike Allen

    So once again Health care reform will fail. And again it will be because the Super wealthy Corporate CEO greedy scum, and their bought and paid for crooked Republican puppets. Have succeeded in fooling the American sheeple with lies and distortions. Shame on the Democrats if they cave in to this disgusting manipulation of our Government by the same greedy crooks that ruined our economy, got us into war for oil and sent our middle class lifestyle to China in exchange for cheap defective products.

    August 17, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  18. Post always rejected by CNN

    Gee I think it is an excellent idea to start over on voting out the blue dogs....you know the republicans who slide in under cover of being democrats. I know there is a real grass roots effort to vote them out. No matter what Emanuel says. People aren't going to contribute one cent to the DNC if the give any of them money.

    We know why he wanted Dean out as chairman. He wanted a wimp in to do his bidding and get those crooked dems , oops republicans elected.

    August 17, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  19. Sam

    I'm sure that they can do better than the current bill. Of course the current bill is leaps and bounds better than doing nothing, which is exactly what we'll get if we put up with the politicians stalling. I say give us what you got now and work out the bugs as they come up. Senate Democrats stop pandering to the uninformed and the ignorant.
    Every day I get another form letter designed to stir up the conservative beehive. These e-mails are full of lies about what's in the health care reform bill. This weekend I debunked one of them, point by point, for three hours. It was ridiculous and everyone who sent it on before me believed every word of it.
    Back down to the ignorant now Democrats and mark my words you will face the same fate your party faced in the mid 90's when you let this opportunity slip away.

    August 17, 2009 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  20. Cynthia - Arkansas

    Please don't let these screaming idiots keep the rest of us from having affordable health care. There are too many lives at stake to let the lobbiest and uninformed win on this. It's way too important!

    August 17, 2009 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  21. jinxie

    "I want you to have your choice about what you have."
    Choice works. Either private funded, where a significant portion goes to line the pockets of lobbyists and their politicians, or a private government funded plan where the lion's share goes to funding one plan with equal access for all. Medicare for all. Just remove the age restrictions and replace with cost based on income level. It's The Thom Hartmann proposal.
    At least give Americans a choice.

    August 17, 2009 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  22. Debra R

    1. If this is such a good idea then why did the congress make it's self exempt?

    2. Work with the exsisting programs Medicare and medicaid.

    3. Quit saying this is free. we are paying for it with our tax dollars.

    August 17, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  23. Republicans are the American Taliban

    Seems like the Democrats in his district need to "scrap everything" and elect a new representative that cares about them....

    August 17, 2009 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  24. ThinkAgain

    I don't think it's necessary to start over, but further changes should include the re-instatement of the coverage for end-of-life consultations.

    Something, BTW, that Sarah Palin during her short tenure as Governor of Alaska promoted as part of "Healthcare Decisions Day." On that day, she said, “Alaska Statute 13.52 provides the specifics of the advance directives law and offers a model form for patient use.”

    Similar laws exist in every state and the District of Columbia. No one ever referred to these laws as euthenasia – until Sarah Palin purposefully lied to the American public in an effort to stir up anti-health care reform sentiment.

    Lovely woman, isn't she?

    August 17, 2009 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  25. Tony in Maine

    The blue dogs need to be taken behind the woodshed and advised that their districts may as well be in Chile if they vote against the President. Federal monies will slow to a trickle, Post Offices will close, military bases will be moved, procurement contracts will disappear.

    August 17, 2009 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
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