August 19th, 2009
08:00 AM ET
5 years ago

Barney Frank goes toe to toe at health care town hall


CNN Correspondent Jim Acosta was on the scene at the Frank town hall. Listen:


(CNN) - Most Congress members conducting town hall meetings this month have chosen a noncombative posture to deal with angry participants who disrupt the proceedings. Not Rep. Barney Frank.

At a lively two-hour meeting Tuesday night in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, Frank gave as good as he got in confronting opponents of overhauling the nation's health care system.

The crowded hall had both supporters and detractors, but the opposing side was much louder and more raucous, booing the Massachusetts Democrat from the moment he was introduced and shouting questions and challenges at him throughout.

"You want me to talk about it or do you want to yell?" he asked over and over when interrupted while trying to answer. Continued shouting brought a sterner rebuke.

"Disruption never helps your cause," he said more than once. "It just looks like you're afraid to have rational discussion."

While Frank attempted to respond to all questions, he gave up when one woman compared health care proposals favored by Frank and President Obama to policies of Nazi Germany.

Full story


Filed under: Barney Frank • Health care • Massachusetts
soundoff (150 Responses)
  1. jack in denver

    When I was a kid an old man in the neighbor would talk about "smacking the stupid out of someone". I didn't believe at the time that in any way or form could this be a good thing to try to do, still think that way, but at least now I understand where he was coming from.

    August 19, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  2. mother and sister of a soldier

    Maybe it is time for CNN to publicize the philosophic beliefs of the men behind Obama and his health care plan. That may open the eyes of the supporters and they too will fear the plan!

    August 19, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  3. Lisa P

    "Disruption never helps your cause," he said more than once. "It just looks like you're afraid to have rational discussion."

    True word from Barney Frank. Thanks Barney! Nobody says it like you do!

    August 19, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  4. Matt

    Republicans haven't had a rational discussion in literally years. They have become a party of misinformation and falsehoods. They have only accomplished spreading fear.

    August 19, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  5. Chris from NY

    Yes. This is the kind of response I need from these Representatives and not to cater to soemone's ego. Do me I do you God no go vex.

    August 19, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  6. Public Option is the Only Way

    Frank did awesome in making that idiot lady look like a crazy idiot! The movements of the right is discusting. He put them in thier place and made them all look like idiots. It was nice to see that the supporters were just as supportive as the haters. So this issue is not being overtaken by the haters. Keep talking Nazi nonsense and the common sense people will just look at you guys like the idiots that you are.

    August 19, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  7. talmag

    I was so proud of Barney Frank for standing up to that woman who was not there to learn about health care. Anyone carrying a sign with the President as a Nazi is there to interrupt the meeting for their own personal cause. These are the hate people inflltrating these meetings. I wish more Senators would do as Frank did and call these people out. There some litigimate people who really are confused because of all the misinformation given out by the media, talk show hosts, etc. They really want to learn and this keeps that from happening. This was great to see someone stand up for our President instead of saying "freedom of speech" nonsense. It is disrespectful to our president and he does not deserve this as he is only trying to help people who have no health care. How unbiased was Senator Grassley's meetings when he gave out Glen Beck's book where he calls the president a racist. That's calling the kettle black. And, why should people come to these meetings with guns.?How does that help them learn about health care. Too little is made by the press and your shows about this problem. Someone is going to get hurt. No one needs a gun at a meeting....sorry. My hope is that you will address these problems but I doubt it. Most of you are afraid to touch it.Give me one brave reporter or analyst and that is who I will respect.

    August 19, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  8. NH Independent

    Barney Frank is a embarassment toour country.....

    August 19, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  9. REA

    Mr. Frank is taking health reform matters seriously, this smart man do not want his time wasted on a bunch of booing uneducated clowns.

    August 19, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  10. Takeshi

    U gota love it. Somebody finally fighting back at this.bs. BO will loose his re-election if he does not start FIGHTING dangit

    August 19, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  11. Leanderjim

    Go get 'em Barney.................................

    August 19, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  12. RN

    Congrats to Frank for standing up to the Party of No-Ideas and Do Nothing. Shouting doesn't solve anything. IF you have an idea -that is thought out – let's hear it.

    August 19, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  13. What GOP isn't telling you

    Facts are this: GOP has said reform is coming regardless, major reform. So their plan is to do nothing, stall and let their true reform come when they are in power..which will result in 'market will regulate itself'. So medicare and any government involvement will more than likely vanish, and it will ALL be in the hands of the insurance companies. So you are truly going to get what you ask for America.

    August 19, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  14. Mary

    Good for Barney Frank for standing up to these Nazis who are trying to shutdown democratic free speech and the chance for people to hear from their elected officials. I wish more people had his courage and energy to fight for the rights of all Americans.

    August 19, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  15. katiec

    How sad that respect, honor and integrity has been totally overrun by those who are being so totally misguided, lied to and become pawns for big business. Even sadder is the fact that these people allow theirselves to be so manipulated into their unAmerican behavior.
    I have never seen such irresponsible actions by the American people, politicians that have stooped to the level they have with goals of destroying health care reform or anything beneficial to the American people. How people cannot see through the republicans undying support for big business, once again, sacrificing the American people is beyond me.
    Our country has dangerous domestic terrorist, out to destroy us and our country.

    August 19, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  16. Claudia in Houson

    Ignorance will always be among us. If we don't know how to speak intelligent then we resort to calling names.

    August 19, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  17. Get REAL

    Barney is wrong about one thing...the First Amendment guarantees ONLY that the government will make no laws abridging free speech. The government can not make a law saying that you cannot shout or disrupt a town hall...BUT at a town hall any official is WELL within their rights to tell these rude angry disrupters to shut up or leave.

    This whole atmosphere has empowered the right to think they can say or do anything and defend it with their first amendment rights...but that is completely wrong...I say the officials should remove any people from EITHER side that become rowdy and disruptive.

    I guess CNN will not post this though...recently they have been approving my posts that are critical of the Republicans and then later deleting them.

    After seeing that CNN cited the results of a study from the Cato Institute (a Libertarian pro-free market thinktank that always sides with corporate interests like insurance companies) as fact on Health Care Rationing factcheck article without publishing any info from a less biased organization, I have begun to see that CNN is in the pocket of corporate interests and the main purpose of everything they do is to keep controversy stirred up.

    August 19, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  18. honduranboy

    You go frank!!!!

    August 19, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  19. Alison

    Barney Franks: read Atlas Shrugged. I think every representative in the United States Congress should read Atlas Shrugged, take a step back, and say: does the government have any right to step in and make huge decisions like this, in a country that is split on its opinions on such a vast, and critical issue? Are the politicians, who have only known running for election and then running for reelection, knowledgeable enough to enact such an immense reform? I interned with U.S. PIRG last summer, and I saw how government worked. It's run by a bunch of aids between the ages of 25-30 with the idea that they know what's best for everyone. The government is here to protect, not intrude, on the lives of the American people. Government is not meant to run business. Politicians should stick to politics and leave industry and business alone before they destroy it. Bush destroyed the budget deficit. Obama will kill it, bury it, and take the hallmark of America down with him: hard-work and productivity. Stop giving the public handouts. We got ourselves into this mess, now we must face the consequences lest we leave it to the government to ruin what this country stands for... or have we lost that already?

    August 19, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  20. Allen, Cypress, Texas

    Good for Rep. Barney Frank. The only best response for these Right Wing Wackos is to beat them at their own game. Call them out for what they are, Stupid, Illiterate, Right Wing Nutjobs. All they want is to intimidate, disrupt, and spread their lies at these town hall meetings. Mr. Frank, who is probably the smartest Congressman would not have it. The lady didn't even have a question, she just wanted to disparage our President. This is exacly the same thing they said about the Clintons in the 90s. Its Deja Vu all over again. What these town halls have demnstrated to me is that OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IS IN SHAMBLES. If these are all our educational systems can turn out. These people who cannot think for themselves, we are in real trouble!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 19, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  21. donttreadonme

    It is stupid to compare Obama to a Nazi but where was all the outrage when this became routine for libs to paint this picture of Bush.
    And when moveon.org ran an advertisement with images of Hitler and Bush did the left condemn it then. It certainly did not stop folks like Franks, Obama and Pelosi from taking campaign contributions and endorsements from them!
    You libs are reaping the result of eight years of constant harassment!

    August 19, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  22. Sniffit

    He did an excellent job of pointing out just how absolutely ridiculous these people are behaving. Everyone knows full well that the whole purpose of their ranting and raving is to get the rumors out there, but then prevent him from debunking him by shouting and acting like angry monkeys. No matter what they say or how much they pretend that they're all sorts of confused and scared and concerned about the "lack of information," THEY DON'T WANT THE ANSWERS, THEY JUST WANT TO BLOCK THIS BECAUSE THEY THINK IT WILL DESTROY THE DEMS AND OBAMA. They do NOT care about the repercussions to the American public of allowing health care costs and infrastructure problems to snowball. This is about the GOP's desire for power and control, not the Dems and Obama's. They are simply using the first rule in contemporary American politics: the accusation is the conviction.

    And yet, what do we get from the "news" media? Instead of actually doing its job and being jounalists, expressing appropriate outrage at the GOP's and insurance industry's purposeful attempts to undermine our democracy by spreading misinformation (an informed voter makes better choices), we get sterile nonsense that treats these blatantly false and borderline insane accusations as though they have potential merit and should only be debunked with a light touch. Shenanigans.

    August 19, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  23. Ajay Jain, Garland, TX, USA

    The GOP Extremist Dilemma will remain a viable thing as long as politicians like "Death Board" PALIN are out there talking anti-Obama talking points be it Energy or Healthcare.

    Nazi influence comes from Sir Rush Limbaugh who is Palin's greatest supporter and that says a lot about Palin's status in GOP!

    Ex-Vice President Candidate Sarah Palin will go down in the history of US elections as the most controversial candidate to date and who led to the GOP debacle nationally for the Republican Party that will take decades to recover.

    Given the lessons of 2008 campaign in which Palin played a lead though defeatist role, facing down extremism and breaking out of the party's regional enclave would be good places to start for today's GOP.

    Obama – Biden 2012!

    August 19, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
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