Freshman Congressman faces tough crowd back home after budget vote
April 21st, 2011
05:22 PM ET
11 years ago

Freshman Congressman faces tough crowd back home after budget vote

Philadelphia (CNN) - In the suburbs of Philadelphia, freshman Congressman Patrick Meehan is spending his day running around his district, answering questions from his constituents. During the two week Congressional break, the Pennsylvania Republican is fitting in five different town hall meetings in just one day.

"We're heading down now into Radnor Township, which is the heart of Philadelphia's old main line. I represent a district that is very diverse," Meehan says as he drives down the highway from his first town hall at Upper Providence township to his second meeting of the morning.

Meehan says he wants to spend days like this listening to his constituents.

"It gives you a chance to come out and hear from people, sort of unplugged," Meehan says. "You can't control what they're going to say but are going to hear what's on their minds and sometimes in their hearts. And you don't really get that from polls or any other kind of thing."

It also gives him a chance clear up what he says are misconceptions about his votes and the Republicans plan for entitlement reform, specifically Medicare.

"Well the issues of entitlement reforms are reflected in their questions in which they're worried about the ability for it to be there," says Meehan, "and we've been discussing the fact that they don't have to worry about that, they're senior citizens."

Meehan was asked about entitlement reform and Medicare at nearly every town hall he went to. Some of his constituents say they're worried about proposed Republican reforms to the Medicare system.

"Reform usually means cutting benefits, if it's cutting benefits, no, I do not want that," says constituent Bette Popiel.

Some just want all entitlement programs overhauled, all together.

"I think the entitlements need to be looked at a lot I think there are a lot of inefficiency," says Kathy Bogosian, who voted for Meehan in 2010.

And some are just confused.

"Right at this point, I don't even know what my concern is," says senior Phyllis Sordi. "I'm just totally confused. The whole thing just has me so confused."

Medicare reform is a big deal in Meehan's district, and he says seniors are an important voting block and adds that he knows some of the pitfalls.

"We have a district that trends towards an elderly population. This is a mature suburb, many people have raised their children and stayed in their homes, even if the children have moved on. So we've got a disproportionate number of seniors," says Meehan. "This is an educated constituency, and it's an intelligent constituency. It's a swing constituency, which means that they do look back and forth and see what's going on. There's got to be some political risk."

Not only is Congressman Meehan trying to sort out the confusion and allay his constituents' fears, he's also trying to fight back against Democrats who see him as an easy target.

Meehan represents Pennsylvania's 7th District, which was vacated by liberal Democrat Joe Sestak, who gave up the seat for an unsuccessful Senate run last year. Meehan captured the seat during the Republican sweep in 2010, but the district has a strong Democratic Party presence, having voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 and John Kerry in 2004.

After he voted for the Republican backed budget proposal last week which reforms Medicare as a component of the plan, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee put out a press release targeting Meehan saying, "Representative Pat Meehan voted to end Medicare and raise health care costs for Pennsylvania seniors," and, "While Representative Pat Meehan wouldn't touch taxpayer subsidies for Big Oil companies and tax breaks for the ultra rich, he sold out Pennsylvania seniors by ending Medicare and leaving them with the bill."

Meehan says it is hard to get his message through, what he calls, the political clutter. "Foremost what's unfortunate about the circumstances right now, the scare tactics that have been part of the process. The Ryan plan [the Republican backed budget plan] is being demonized by some and yet the essence of it is it changes nothing with respect to seniors on Medicare," says the Congressman.

"To the extent that people are going to demagogue this from a political perspective it can be twisted and turned in a way in which they try to misrepresent things and put you in a defensive position politically," Meehan says.

But Democrats point to Meehan's campaign pledge to never support a voucher system for Medicare, and claim his vote for the Ryan budget plan shows he's already done just that.

Meehan, though, says he's doing the right thing for his constituents, and promises he's going to continue doing what he thinks is right in this debate and future debates, despite political threats from Democrats.

"I don't want to surrender any of this. I've worked very, very hard to get here," says the congressman. "I don't believe by doing this it means we won't be able to stay here, but I'm also not only gonna stay here if it means that I'm going to be dishonest or have to not deal with that which is put before us."

Filed under: Patrick Meehan • Pennsylvania
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. bobden

    The main problem with our health care "system" is insurance companies. Ryan wants to make the problem worse, and the insurance company execurives richer by giving even more money (medicare money) to the insurance companies.
    That is NOT medicare reform. That is medicare rip-off.

    April 21, 2011 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  2. Boytjie

    "and we've been discussing the fact that they don't have to worry about that, they're senior citizens."

    Well, if you are not a senior citizen already you SOL.

    April 21, 2011 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  3. Bill

    A one-termer and then he will be removed in 2012, along with scores of other freshman congressman. Goodbye.

    April 21, 2011 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  4. GI Joe

    Another lying republican. Tell those seniors their kids will be left to pay 90% of their own healthcare. Sometimes up to a million a year for someone with multiple problems and multiple by-passes.

    April 21, 2011 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  5. GI Joe

    Individuals cannot bargain for lower prices - Medicare CAN and does.

    April 21, 2011 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  6. MAC

    At least Rep. Meehan is making an effert to cut the deficit and be fiscally responsible. The President and democratic party only want to raise taxes to fix the budget. Raisng taxes on just the rich will not solve the deficit. If theywill not cut entitlements, they need to raise taxes on everyone including the poor, they helped create the deficit as mucha s the rich and middle class. If you worry about Medicaid/Medicare and social security being touched, then raise those taxes on everyone.

    April 21, 2011 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    Re: Cain's nonsense about Catwoman.

    Read my respnses to Borger you conservative shill. Mischaracterizing BOTH Ryan's and Obama's budget proposals to suit your argument just makes you look like the useful idiot tool you are. God only knows why they'd pay you so much if you can't do a better job hiding it. Ryan's proposal is nowhere near "serious" or "honest." It's something to scoff at and then get angry about because it's so obviously an intentionally extremist and cartoonish opening bid in an attempt to shift the end result of "comrpomise" to the right, provide a right-shifted perception of the middle and the starting positions. CBO crapped on it, as did several major league economic experts, including Nobel Laureates. That's not the kind of "serious" we want from our elected representatives. Moreover, pretending Obama's plan is simply "tax the rich and all will be well" is ignoring several other facets of what he talked about, has proposed AND has done in terms of compromise. Your article was nothing more than a road map for other conservative shills to land in talking point town. Get a life.

    April 21, 2011 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  8. Eric

    "Foremost what's unfortunate about the circumstances right now, the scare tactics that have been part of the process...."

    Turnabout is fair play, Mr. Meehan. Scare tactics got you your job, and they will help you lose it.

    (And do make a stronger attempt to form a coherent sentence. Hint: verbs are helpful)

    April 21, 2011 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  9. Republican Robber Baron

    Welcome Freshman Neo-Con-artist Republicans. Now how about a nice big piece of Humble Pie to put you goons in your place. Even fellow Republicans are not buying into privatization of SS, Medicare, Medicaid and socking it the middle class with your welfare for Millionaires and Billionaires. Stop trying to give the wealthy even more tax perks on the backs of the elderly or poor. Yes that includes the FUTURE elderly too.

    April 21, 2011 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  10. Clwyd

    Recall the right wing nut and freshman republican. Recall them all if you can!

    April 21, 2011 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  11. lgny

    Sadly, the Republican Medicare plan is a guaranteed loser. Replacing fee for service payments with a single large payment to an insurance company is shaky to begin with, but it then locks the annual increase at the rate of inflation, when we all know that health care costs rise faster than inflation. That guarantees that the personal cost will increase sharply with each year until the program is largely meaningless.

    Curiously, earlier reports (e.g. the Bipartisan Policy Center Report) had identified this problem but Ryan chose to ignore it in order to grant bigger tax cuts to the fat cats.

    April 21, 2011 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  12. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Guess what Republicans, it's going to get tougher.

    April 21, 2011 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  13. carrotroot

    The "Keep Your Hands off My Medicare" crowd voted overwhelmingly for the Republicans in 2010. Now these same people who were frightening them rhetoric of Obama pulling the plug on them, have just passed a bill to eliminate Medicare. Well you get what you voted for.

    April 21, 2011 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  14. Vicki

    He's complaining about the Dems attacking this Republican "plan" and confusing the seniors in his district. Well, I believe they are just pointing out the facts of this new "plan" and it's a little scary, frankly. Um, I seem to remember the Republicans spreading out-and-out lies about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to scare people into wanting it repealed – DEATH PANELS – but that was OK, I guess. I do give Paul Ryan credit for putting this subject on the table and forcing an actual debate. Now that we know what each side wants and doesn't want, maybe they can meet in the middle.

    April 21, 2011 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  15. John N Florida

    But Democrats point to Meehan's campaign pledge to never support a voucher system for Medicare, and claim his vote for the Ryan budget plan shows he's already done just that.

    "...I'm also not only gonna stay here if it means that I'm going to be dishonest..."

    Okay, PA, which one is it?

    April 21, 2011 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  16. Rexben

    Thank goodness the republicans started off with this nonsense. When they get tossed out again then we can start talking about fixing the system again. Maybe next time the democrats won't balk at every chance and get things fixed.

    April 21, 2011 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  17. Name Jeremy from Dallas

    He promised never to support voucher system. Why did he do exactly that? He is a liar.

    April 21, 2011 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  18. Stu Steinberg

    Claiming that the reforms do not affect seniors is a complete lie. It will affect seniors in the future and it is disingenuous to claim that because current seniors on Medicare are protected it, therefore, "does not affect seniors." What Rep. Meehan is lying about is that the Ryan plan would apply to anyone 55, or younger, and provide them with a $15,000 voucher. Assuming your are 55 or younger, and retire at 66 or 67, that is when you become eligible for the voucher. At that age, $15,000 will not get you crap and you will be responsible for costs above that. Your co-pays would go from approximately 20% to an estimated 68% and there is no requirement that insurers cannot deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, as the Obama plan does. I hope you Tea Party morons get what you want and when you don't have the money over the voucher you are SOL and get not one dime from the rest of us. Can't pay? Tough. You don't get public healthcare and you die.

    April 21, 2011 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  19. Mikey

    We were better off when most insurance companies were mutuals, organized for the benefit of, and technically owned by, their policy holders. Now that most insurance companies are publicly traded profit driven entities, they seem to maximize profits more by delaying and denying claims than through operating efficiencies. I guess we'll never put that genie back in the bottle.

    April 21, 2011 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  20. Henry

    When Democrats talk about this guy's vote, he calls it clutter but when he demonizes Democrats last year it is the truth. I like this guy when he says that seniors are safe; no kidding. It is the next seniors that we are worried about. Not him because he feels his constituents are the safe "seniors".


    April 21, 2011 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  21. Name mearl dunlap

    all i can say s gop lost they rabbit – – – minds among other things

    April 21, 2011 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  22. Rick in AZ

    The only sane answer is Universal Single Payer Health Insurance. Medicare for all.

    April 21, 2011 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  23. inside job

    Rep, where are the jobs?? During the campaign, they all talked about jobs. Since the election is over, what have they done on jobs????? NOTHING......, ZERO.... Shame on them.

    April 21, 2011 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  24. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    Why aren't they throwing shoes at him??

    April 21, 2011 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  25. ED FL

    The tea Party will soon become the PEE party as America sees what they consist of. Most of them are getting government programs which THEY AND MOST OF US like myself HAVE PAID FOR OURSELVES. When their own house is on fire they scream when it is someone elses they CRY like their LEADER BOEHNER.

    April 21, 2011 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
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