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."
We do need to start again on health care. While the public option might make liberals happy, and I as a liberal think it's a bad idea, the public co-op would definitely be a good option. It would provide competition with the private insurers, while at the same time it would keep government out of health care. Private health insurers have had it all their own way for far too long. And by the way, they do ration health care, something protesters insist would happen with a government option. We already have rationed health care. And it would be nice if HMO's actually became Health Maintenance Organizations and provided preventative care. It would be much cheaper to prevent illness than to let it fester. But of course if you don't care if a customer DIES, then I guess it is cheaper to ignore the illness.
By-the-by Mr. Blue Dog Democrat: It would be nice if we could all have the same insurance we so generously pay for you and your fellow senators.
Might be a good idea, LETS GET IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME. :)
Newsflash to those worried about paying for abortions: if you have health insurance, ANY health insurance, chances are very good that you already are paying for them! People are incredibly hypocritical about criticizing the government about where their money goes while not questioning private companies where their fees go. Most health insurance companies have coverage for abortions. Your fees are going to abortions! Only 5 states have any limitations on insurance companies paying for abortions, and only 2 forbid it and even then only for public employees. So if you want to stick to your morality and not allow your money to go to abortions, check your own insurance company as well! It is a pretty good bet the fees you pay end up paying for somebody!
Blue Dog Democrats are pretty much useless in my opinion. They seem to vote "Ney" on democratic bills and "Ney" on republican bills. They sponsor not much and write even less. They kind of take up space and try to get "pork" for their districts. Since the have no dog in the fight, they get more attention than they are worth.
This way when elections come around they can always say they are doing the bidding of their district. In fact they do not. they want to get re-elected without having to actually think. They just want to get their paycheck and get committee chairmanships by default simply by longevity.
Our beloved Blue Dogs are Rethuglicans in sheep's clothing. These folks are right leaning players in an enormous fraud being perpetrated on America. They don't deserve the label Democrat. They really should be called Red Dogs.
It sure looks like Representative Boyd is getting the message! I hope this is being brought back to Washington and acted on. These are not bussed in people being paid by Insurance Companies or other special interest groups. These are Americans who are saying "No More" to the irresponsible management of our tax dollars in Washington. Enough already.
With Social Security, Fannie may / Freddie mac and medicare all bankrupt and the Postal Service on it's way, why would anyone want the government trying to run healthcare?
If the current immigration laws were actually enforced, the pharma companys had reasonable limits for profits , and new laws were made to limit law suit amounts and go after medicade fraud more diligently , we would be well on our way to cheaper health insurance right now.
And at a much cheaper cost than any government run healthcare system.
The USA spends more on health care and gets less health care for our money than any other modern nation. Political prostitution pays off, but not for We, The People.
You say you want to play HARDBALL? I say take a vote now and anyone against it will be voted out by the Majority come election day.
Over 76% of Americans want public option. This is the only way this plan will reform the anachronistic health care system in this country. We have to fight for it or reform will be meaningless.
Too many people cannot be insured because of pre-existing conditions. Regularly the group policies go up in price but offer fewer benefits. We need reform. Medicare and medicaid are two of the most popular government plans. Health insurance reform can benefit everyone and should be adopted quickly.
This guy represents a total disaster. He is as good as gone!
Not to worry! If he gets voted out of office, he will become a lobbyist in DC, making MILLIONS off of payola!
The Obama plan is to give all of the illegals citizenship and then they will be covered under his health care bill.