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. rob c

    If these people wanted answers they would let their questions get answered. Why is it that republicans can conduct calm townhalls, but when democrats have them that is where the problem is. Once again those right is tryn to not let the people hear the details because they don't want to they want to get rid of Obama and his attempts to help the population here in the States.

    August 19, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  2. Joanne65

    I noticed when old Barney was asked if he was going to give up his Cadilac Health Plan and join the rest of the people on their government plan he didn't answer. What a phony. Get real, he doesn't care about the people. He is self-serving just like the rest of his cronies.

    August 19, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  3. joe

    This is typical self obsessed, self righteous Barney Frank behavior now isn’t it – not getting his way he has to lash out – amazingly we have seen this before when the House and Senate were debating the Stimulus, TARP and TALF – Really Barney? You were one of the people that actually helped get the banking system into the problems we now face and then got all childish during the “hearings” and now he shows his immaturity again. This is not the type of leadership we need at this time; children wanting total control.

    August 19, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  4. Tom in Wheaton, Illinois

    If the Republicans want to join in the discussion, they should hire smarter stooges.

    August 19, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  5. VAisforLOVERS

    I completely agree with him – "Disruption never helps your cause," he said more than once. "It just looks like you're afraid to have rational discussion." These people referring to the healthcare reform as Nazi takeover are a few seconds from being half baked!

    August 19, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  6. Jon

    It's about time Democrats fought back. I am so tired of these fear mongering Republicans warping people's minds with nonsense. Good for you Congressman!

    August 19, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  7. sensible Cape Coral Fl

    We could use a lot more politicians like Barney Frank. He speaks his mind.The ones who really have something to say need not have to shout and scream if what they say is legitimate dialogue. Yelling has become a substitute for thinking.

    August 19, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  8. Kevin in Ohio

    Barney Frank is clueless.... he doesn't seem to realize that he reresents the people. His combative style is emblematic of the authoritarianism of the liberal left-wing. When will these people realize they need to LISTEN to the American people????????

    August 19, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  9. Marcus, Great Lakes IL

    I just took the CNN poll about the health insurance bill. Only 24% are on top of it while, the remainder don't know enough about the bill.

    Small children on a sugar rush are acting better then the people who go to these town home meetings and by the looks of things, those people haven't a clue on what is in that bill, they only believe what they are TOLD to be the "truth" by those powers that be on the radio and t.v.
    (so much for the left wing media)

    Maybe it's time to do away with Medicaid and Medicare, require companies to stop providing health insurance to their employees and the employee's families and let them all find their own provider, using their own money and let's see how quickly things change.

    Everyone on the same playing field, everyone pays their own way, no help from the government or employers.

    August 19, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  10. Polar Bears Against Palin

    The right-wing pigs need to be locked up. These losers are as dumb as a box of rocks.

    August 19, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  11. Clint

    I admire Mr. Frank for trying to the issues head on. Unfortunately there is a segment of our population that is either too uninformed to participate in a rationale discussion or would rather disrupt debate because it fits their political agenda. These people will be shocked to see how irrelevant they have become when America gets its much needed health reform. Get on the right side of history.

    August 19, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  12. Jillie

    Nazies and Death Panels, all proved falsehhods and lies promoted by Republicans. Republicans are feeding the public and sadly leading the lambs to slaughter.

    August 19, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  13. Mark from Louisiana

    Why can't we have term limits so these idiots won't be in office long enough to destroy our country?

    August 19, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  14. Deep Throat

    The trouble is this man does not know what he talks about.

    August 19, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  15. eolufemi

    They should have had him talking from the beginning. There was never any reason to humor these outlandish claims the fringe right is beholden too. While we are wasting time dispelling rumors about death panels, we should have been debating the pros and cons of co-ops versus a government backed public plan. Now we have people entrenched around an issue where there's actually room for honest debate.

    August 19, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  16. Paul Miller

    Barney Franks is not as weak-kneed as the other Democrats. Go barney!

    Democrats, when you fight Americans respect you, and admire you. When you roll over and play dead, Americans scorn you.

    August 19, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  17. pat c

    bless these democrats that are trying to help america with having to put up with all this republican ignorance!!

    August 19, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  18. Mississippi Mike

    Instead of answering the questions from his constituents he belittled them. One person even asked why he kept insulting the audience with his rude comments to which he had another snarky reply. Instead of engaging in conversation, he avoided discussing the issues. I saw the video footage on another news station and it was clear that he feels like he has a free ticket to do whatever he wants and that the very people he represents are a bunch of useless morons. This is not representative government, this is a class of politicians who feeled entitled to their positions and will force their ideology on us whether we like it or not.

    August 19, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  19. Willa

    It is so frustrating to find out that the people of these United States, don't realize that it is for the good of the people that health care reform should include a public option. Half of the people listen to the nonsence of the right fringe corporations that would love to kill this reform to fill their coffers and they, the people, are brainwashed to believe them. The right is stoking violence in the most unintelligent people of the country, it sure seems that way, because of the references to hitler and the nazies and killing old people etc...what is this country coming to...a revolution that even some on the right, like would love to have...and then what.

    August 19, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  20. Alex

    Excellent response, Mr. Frank. That woman who invoked Nazi Germany was obviously a plant, reading from a script, who's only intent was to throw those inflammator words out there and incite others.

    August 19, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  21. Enough

    Barney boy is the one who is doing the yelling and not listening to what anyone has to say. Typical Democrat do as they want, not what the people want. Gotta wonder who votes for losers like Frank, Pelosi, Reid.

    August 19, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  22. Clinton Fringer

    Barney Frank likes to argue. So who would have thought he would be having a screaming match war? In his case this really is SOSDD.

    August 19, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  23. Change_Has_Begun

    I hope that stupid woman who compared our government to the nazi got her answer – if our government was like the nazi trust me that woman would be in prison right now for not agreeing. People don't know the whole history and atrocities the nazis committed and only know that nazis are bad and juxtaposing Obama with the nazis is ok – if you have no idea what you are talking about then you need to shut up and listen without humilating anyone. Stupid woman.

    August 19, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  24. Erasmus

    I would love to see our elected leaders at these "spontaneous" town hall meetings set the ground rules by saying that anyone who uses the word "socialism" or "Nazi" will be required to sign a waiver of their right to Medicare and Social Security benefits and then hand out waivers to the crowd. Maybe some of these people would get down off of their chairs and use their brains instead of acting like fools.

    August 19, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  25. Larry L

    Senator Frank is speaking for most of America. We're simply tired of listening to the "Swift-Boat" crowd and disgusted with Republicans for becoming a political party of liars and morons. A sincere conservative influence on our policies would help bring America toward the middle ground most of us represent. But as conservatives foolishly dedicate themselves to discrediting the President, at any cost to America, they remove their voice from the political process.

    August 19, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
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