My hope comes in the way the Senator has responded and listened. I remain concerned that he is leaving with the impression that people are strongly against reform.
9:58: A lot of small employers have dropped insurance over the past year. Employers can’t keep up with the cost. How would reform help with this? Specter insists that insurance companies won’t be able to drop coverage and refuse it. The plan will cut costs he says … and I hope it is strong enough to do that.
9:53: Now the question is: if you vote yes to health insurance reform, should you be held criminally culpable? Specter says: no. Simple, elegant.
9:45: On to abortion… Happily, Specter is in favor of both life and the right to choice.
9:38: It seems that to change one’s mind about the single payer option in the face of the attempt to garner support for reform (as Obama seems to have done) is to be a lair. Specter defends the notion that we need to be flexible and make changes to our position in the face of the interests of others.
9:20: A man tells a compelling story about his wife who needed a heart transplant when they had no money. They prayed on it and God answered: his VA benefits came through and she had the operation and is now healthy.
He is against healthcare reform because he does not want government to decide to kill his wife!??
Specter makes the obvious point that the VA is a government program.
9:13: Apparently Specter is trying to kill us when he advocates for exercise, healthy eating, and regular checkups. Not sure how that follows, but there it is…
This civil discourse indeed!
Specter says that he decided not to shave his head and become a sex symbol after his cancer treatment. Good choice.
9:05: There are now a few more pro reform questions being asked thoughtfully. Specter restates that the single payer plan should be on the table. He has retained his sense of humor and recognizes that when he advocates for the rights of states, he gets a lot cheers. He predicts it before he says it.
8:55: Watching this, I am increasingly aware of the anger and fear that is animating some people in the country. These are people who genuinely feel threatened by a changing world. I hear it in the loud opposition to the very idea of global warming and any intervention by the government in the lives of individuals.
8:45: Question about public leader’s arrogance, we are apparently on the road to socialism. The war is allegedly for American freedom. Specter says that we are not moving to socialism, the boisterous people are booing because they don’t believe him.
Specter says he favors a public option. Says he is here to listen, but I wonder what the impression he is getting about the position of the “American people” from this meeting. There are just a lot of angry people in this room.
8:40: Second question is from a young man whose father is a plumber without insurance. Asks what they are going to do to help him. He is clearly in favor of insurance reform. Specter says that they are working for universal health insurance (claps and boos combined) and he speaks of a co-operative program.
Specter is talking about changing parties because the Republicans were not willing to engage in a discussion about the stimulus. He says that when he voted for the stimulus, the Republicans censored him. He is glad to be able to vote his conscience, not on a partisan label.
8:35: Specter says that your right to free speech ends when you interrupt others trying to exercise the right to free speech. The first question is more of a filibuster than question. The questioner wants to know “why aren’t you taking more time?” Specter says that they are taking the time to get it right.
Specter is angry and feisty. There is a strong anger in the hall, but Specter is firm.
< /span>8:25: Waiting f
or Specter, here are some pictures of the line outside the hall. It is hard to tell who is for what, but it feels like there are a number of people here early who are against reform. They have signs, which were not permitted into the hall. The first 30 people were given cards to ask questions.
Specter comes enters and is talking about the anger he has seen over the past few days as he goes through PA.
8:15: I am in the hall after waiting in line for about an hour. I had a nice talk with Joyce Luzier (shown here on right) from Phillipsburg who is supporting health insurance reform. We had a nice discussion about the importance of reform and sighed as we saw the bus of anti-reformers arrive.