August 6th, 2009
08:00 PM ET
13 years ago

Top House Democrats lash out at health care protestors

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Top Senate Democrats Thursday lashed out at conservative protestors for disrupting health care town hall meetings but said Democrats would not be deterred from promoting the emerging health overhaul over the August recess.

“We’re not going to be sidetracked by people trying to sabotage a civil process,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV.

“These are nothing more than destructive efforts to interrupt a debate we should be having,” Reid said. “They’re doing this because they don’t have any better ideas.”

Top White House aides, David Axelrod and Jim Messina, huddled with Senate Democrats in the Capitol Tuesday to strategize about how best to talk to their constituents about health care when they return home. During the meeting, senators watched videos of recent town hall meetings during which protestors shouted down lawmakers.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the number two Senate Democrat, suggested health industry groups were backing the protests.

“They are the groups that are making a fortune off the current health care system. They want to keep their profit margins protected. They want to stop change. They are supporting this effort to disrupt town meetings and create the wrong impression about health care reform.”

Despite the high profile protests, which have been posted on You Tube and played repeatedly on television, Democratic leaders said they are confident their members will be able to handle the pressure.

“The Senate Democratic Caucus is full of professionals with a lot of experience,” Durbin said.

“Our view is to ignore them. We’re going to go forward and explain to the American people what we’re trying to do,” said Sen. Charles Schumer of New York. “The false information will just die away.”

Durbin said for the first time in his career people are calling his office “begging” him to hold town meetings. Health reform opponents want to create scenarios where it appears lawmakers can’t defend the reform bills moving through Congress, he said.

Durbin vowed not to let the protestors get the upper hand with him.

“We’re gong to have meetings but they’re not going to be the kind of meetings they’re looking for where they can take them over,” Durbin said. “I don’t have to set up a stage for their political theater.”

Filed under: Congress • Health care
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Donna from Colorado Springs

    The Democrats have to absolutely stand up to the Republicans who are fostering these hate-filled meetings with lies and misleading information. The entire country is being lied to and are being stirred up into bigotted behavior. I can't believe that people are buying into their lies AGAIN! These town hall disasters have turned into nothing but meetings for racial and ethnic defamation! They're not even concerned with the healthcare bill, just venting because a man they don't like is the president. Get over it people. He was voted in by a landslide, so grow up, act like decent human beings, and deal with it! Don't let the likes of Rush Limbaugh and his kind influence your lives.

    August 6, 2009 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  2. Tatianna

    The politicization of the Oval Office (a la Evil Karl Rove) continues. You know, that which the left despised so much. Looks like Axelrod is the new Rove and is calling the shots and checking Obama polling data by the hour.

    August 6, 2009 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  3. Charlie

    So, by Durbin's definition, if anyone disagrees with the proposed legislation, they're a shill for "Big Insurance"?! What a cowardly tactic to avoid any kind of substantive debate or discussion!!!

    Durbin: "Let's have a discussion...unless of course you disagree with which case I will label you as a Big Insurance operative, and question your character rather than your ideas.".

    Durbin's pathetic response to valid criticism really shows how bereft of merit the proposed legislation truly is. Change you can believe in.


    August 6, 2009 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  4. Tatianna

    Durbin along with other top House dems, need to stop whining and remember they work for We The People and not the other way around. So, please do ignore the peoples opposition voice, it will be your demise in 2010 and 2012 elections. Were not going to allow congress dems to stampede healthcare reform upon majority of Americans opposing it. We The People demand line by line transparency before any and all bills are voted on the floor.

    August 6, 2009 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  5. No fear here

    During these uncertain economic times the extremists on the right are using fear on many Americans to help further the Right Wing cause of doing nothing for Obama, of course unless it means doing something for their own right wing interest.
    I think the American people and voters have been here and seen these actions from the right wing thugs previously. Americans will need to stand up and be heard. Any discussion especially in town hall meetings are important to American values. These type of discussions being held for Health Care issues were never held for the 2nd Iraq war because the GOP is not interested in other American opinions except for the Right Wing input.

    August 6, 2009 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  6. rorsharch

    Yeah, God forbid anyone has a dissenting voice, that would be un-American, now when Reid said that we had lost the war in Iraq, he was not being un-American, but whatever, socialist

    August 6, 2009 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  7. tk in IL

    So what exactly is the plan for these town meetings if they think they can suppress freedom of expression? I wonder what they think is being suggested if all they are experiencing is opposition to their health care reform? It's not rocket science here, if all you hear is opposition then it stands to reason your constituents don't want it to happen. Geez, when exactly did this administration forget who they work for?????

    August 6, 2009 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  8. Reatte Beaumont Texas

    As long as it isn't against the demo's it's okay to protest but when it's against them they start to whine like little babies

    How funny they are LOL

    August 6, 2009 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  9. 4 and the door

    Not going well between sessions, is it? Could it be that they are trying to sell a clunker health care program without letting anyone look under the hood, look at the price tag or see the financing plan?

    Go back to the drawing board. The American people are not as stupid as they were in November. You have sold too many lemons already!

    August 7, 2009 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
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