Archive for September, 2009

Henry Waxman’s Townhall Sham

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Several days ago I attended a sham of a townhall on healthcare put on by Henry Waxman.

As many of you know, I was accosted by Seth Horowitz, a member of the West Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and manager at the Luxe Hotel.

Today will only briefly focus on the thug that is Mr. Horowitz. His behavior was disgusting, but it is important that the substance of Congressman Waxman’s remarks not be lost in the shuffle.

For those that have been supportive, and have deluged my inbox with well wishes, I thank you. For those that want to call or email the Luxe Hotel or Congressman Waxman’s office, I implore you to be polite.

I have only met Congressman Waxman twice, even though I have lived in his district since I arrived in Los Angeles in 1990. I met him in the mid-1990s at UCLA Hillel. He didn’t know my political views, and the two to three minute conversation was cordial. My brief conversation with him this past week was equally cordial.

I don’t hate Henry Waxman. I have no reason to hate him. I strongly disagree with him, but it is not personal.

Yet I do have a problem with his refusal to do real townhall events. Because he gets millions in money from Hollywood celebrities in the entertainment industry, he has no reason to be responsive to the rest of the voters. He has a safe seat. In 2008 he ran unopposed.

Adam Schiff held an outdoor townhall, and faced the music.

Henry Waxman held a private dinner at the Luxe Hotel with a $50 entry fee. People had to register in advance. It appears that somebody associated with the Congressman, and perhaps the Congressman himself, ran background checks on all attendees, with the goal of intimidating anyone at the event that would be considered a political agitator. This turned into anybody who was registered Republican, including myself, to be targeted for harassment.

(The investigation is pending it, and I will get to the truth.)

Questioners were allowed 30 seconds. After that, a woman sitting at my table would hold up a large sign letting the moderator know that time was up. The mdoerator would then instantly cut off the questioner. This prevented manifestos, but it also cut off legitimate questions as well.

The moderator called mostly on friendly questioners. He accidentally slipped and called one of them by her first name. Do you think he knew her? I think so. Liberal plants at this event, not so shocking.

Because I kept waving my hand, the moderator had no choice but to call on me after pretending not to see me the whole time.

Yet Henry Waxman’s main problem is what he says, not what others ask.

He began by pointing out that while he thought the world of Veteran Michigan Congressman John Dingell, it was time for a change of leadership in the energy committee. Waxman pointed out that Dingell had been in Congress for 50 years, and was 83 years old.

This was an astounding line of attack. He was saying that Dingell had been in Congress too long, and had lost touch. This is Henry Waxman in a nutshell. He has also been in Congress forever. While his tenure is less than that of Dingell, he has been around a very long time. It was almost insulting hear him try and justify why he wanted to control the energy committee. John Dingell was not an eviromaniac, being from Michigan and all.

While the townhall itself was supposed to be about healthcare, only about 1/3 of the event dealt with that. Energy and other issues were part of his speech. Yet many of the questions were about health care.

Congressman Waxman insisted on spending time discussing environmental issues, which is his right. He spoke about the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. He referred to it as a good example of a business and environmental partnership. I do not know enough about the program to comment either way.

He did point out that we are so dependent on foreign oil, but refuses to support oil drilling. Leftists point out that drilling will not solve all of the problems, but this is a phony argument. Conservatives are not saying that drilling is the only solution, but it should not be ruled out as one of several solutions.

An odd statement Congressman Waxman made was that as a California Congressman, he does not spend time being concerned that the “Midwest is crying over the job losses they had.”

He accused George W. Bush, as any liberal would. “For eight years he denied science and censored research.”

This has nothing to do with liberals refusing to support drilling.

He did address the important issue of unilateral disarmament with regards to cap and trade. Conservatives have a valid point when they say that if we adopt tough standards but China and India do not, then jobs will be lost to those nations. Congressman Waxman was correct when he pointed out that they can claim that they will not act until we act. With everybody waiting on everybody else, it becomes like “kindergarten.”

This argument is not baseless, but where it falls apart is at the original premise stage that doing nothing is worse than not taking the risk. As somebody who does not believe that the Earth is about to explode in a matter of milliseconds, I am fine with a cautious approach, and in this case, a do nothing approach. China and India feel the same way. There has been no evidence that any attempts to take the lead on such issues will lead to any support from out economic competitors.

He also came out in support of action with coal, but this is an example of Democrats talking without any concrete action to back up the words. The Democrats have the votes. Republicans would support them. It is laughable to think that Democrats support the coal industry.

“We can burn the coal, sequester the carbon, without damaging the environment. We have an abundance of natural resources.”

Fine. Offer a bill.

The speech then finally went into healthcare, where the obvious was touched upon.

“A lot of people are uneasy about government run health care such as a single payer system. They see big increases in taxes. It is not politically possible.”

“Insurance companies should take everyone without increasing prices.”

Has Henry Waxman ever run an insurance company? What he is suggesting is that a business become a charity. Businesses that do not make profits go out of business. Perhaps Congressman Waxman wants this. Insurance companies make fabulous bogeymen for people that never had their lives saved by a new drug that can only be researched and developed by a company with profits.

“Many people don’t want to get insurance. They are young and invincible.”

Well forcing them is not going to happen. It can’t. Not in America. Should they? Yes. Yet it is not the responsibility of the government to make people more socially responsible. Some will argue that these people eventually cost taxpayers money in emergency rooms, but that is a separate issue.

“46 to 50 million Americans are uninsured.”

Take out illegal aliens, and others that voluntarily refuse coverage, and the number drops precipitously. Now if people want to cover illegal aliens, then be honest about it. Let’s have the discussion. Trying to lie and inflate the figure only makes the opposition angrier because they feel they are being given a pack of lies.

“Deficits cannot be controlled without controlling health care costs.”

This is a true statement that masks that President Obama is causing skyrocketing deficits while hiding behind George W. Bush, who was a deficit hawk by comparison. Also, Until 2008, President Bush’s deficits were on expenditures that actually mattered, not social engineering.

(Liberals who like to cherry pick conservative blogs will us that quote to avoid dealing with the actual topic, which is Waxman. I threw this line in deliberately to provoke such dishonesty.)

Congressman Waxman then spoke about how awful it was to compare Obama to Hitler, without mentioning that the left compares every conservative to Hitler. All comparisons to Hitler are wrong.

“Rationing hasn’t happened under Medicare. I can’t imagine it will happen here either.”

Notice that he did not say it will not happen. Yes, rationing is a very real possibility. When one offers something free or at a reduced price, more people want it, and less of it exists. This is Economics 101.

Congressman then Waxman shifted blame form the House by pointing out that the Senate is what is slowing everything up. While it is true that the Senate, since its creation by the Founding Fathers, has been where legislation goes to die, this does not mean that the House has been productive on this issue.

“The Senate requires 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. The House wanted a bipartisan bill. Republicans don’t want any Obama bill.”

“We did not get bipartisanship on the stimulus bill. economists on the left and right supported it.”

Not true. Many clear thinking economists opposed it. We now know that the opposition was right.

“The stimulus bill is helping.”

Helping who? People who get paid to write legislation? At best it did not make things much worse.

“Arlen Specter left the Republican Party because he could not survive there any longer. Yet we still do not have 60 votes. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley has threatened to block the bill. We lost Senator Kennedy. Senator Robert Byrd is very ill. He may not be able to vote.”

One very honest questioner wanted to know why Democrats don’t just ram the bill through using the reconciliation process. This would require only 51 votes, circumventing the filibuster.

“All of healthcare can’t be in the reconciliation bill. It would have to be done piecemeal in that case. Also, the GOP may retaliate against reconciliation.”

On this he is right. Play by the rules, are suffer the consequences when in the minority.

Another questioner wanted the Democrats to dare the GOP to filibuster. Congressman Waxman disagreed.

“Forcing a filibuster has been considered, but it is not the best alternative.”

Another honest answer came when somebody brought up the issue that Obama outsourced the bill to Nancy Pelosi. I have personally stated that President Obama seems detached from doing the tough tedious work. Congressman Waxman stated that “Congress would have ignored an Obama bill.” SImply put, Congressional prerogative trumps loyalty to any President, even one of the sma eparty. Robert Byrd took President Clinton to the Supreme Court and successfully had the federal line item veto declared unconstitutional. Congress is supposed to writw the bill.

I still see the President as disengaged, but the point is not without merit.

“President Obama is willing to be a one term president to get healthcare done.”

I don’t buy this. Let’s see how he is in 2011. Yes, he is made out to be a saint, but he really is just another politician. This is not an indictment, but the notion that any president is such a true believer that they would deliberately ram through an agenda knowing it could cost them their job is hard to swallow.

One questioner wanted to know if Congressman Waxman would subject himself to the plan he wanted to pass. He declined to say that he would. In fact, he brazenly implied that the plan under discussion was a replica modeled after the Congressional healthcare system. Therefore, he actually was subjecting himself to the same plan as his constituents. This claim would be laughable if it was not so upsetting. He simply lied.

Congressman Waxman was asked about excise taxes on food and beverages. He ducked the question by saying that “My committee is not involved with taxes. That is the Ways and Means Committee.”

His answer to a question about mandates was mind boggling in its brazenness.

“Their is a requirement that everybody gets insurance. That is not a mandate. It is ‘shared responsibility.’ There will be a small tax on those who refuse.”

Don Corleone, meet Henry Waxman.

(I guess that makes Seth Horowitz the adopted Consigliere.)

Congressman Waxman was asked if he would be holding more open townhalls where anybody could attend. He explained that his schedule was very busy, and that this might not be possible. He did state that he had already conducted several events, but they were all tightly scripted.

One sycophant stated that she was “so happy for everything the government has done for our business.”

(Perhaps she runs a brothel.)

My question for him used a trivial example, but was meant for a deeper and more serious point to be made. Also, given that Seth Horowitz was most likely nearby pounding his fists together like Rahm Emanuel, I did not want to take any chances.

“Congressman Waxman, my name is Eric. I am a Republican, but am moderate on some issues, so there is a chance for some common ground. My question deals with your desire to see everybody covered. Aren’t there people who maybe should not be covered, such as illegal aliens? What about Guantanamo Bay detainees relocated to America? Should they be given everything from healthcare coverage to gay marriage rights to everything else?

(the crowd laughed)

Congressman, in all seriousness, where do we draw the line?”

I give Congressman Waxman credit. He actually did answer the question. Whether or not he answered truthfully is a judgment call. He emphatically insisted that none of the proposed bills offered healthcare coverage for illegal aliens. He left no ambiguity. Illegal aliens would not be covered under the congressional plans. He did not use euphemisms such as “undocumented workers.” He used the same terminology I did.

He then at the end of his answer state that he had not heard of any proposal to give healthcare coverage or anything else to Gitmo detainees.

I wanted to leave illegal aliens out of it and just stick to Gitmo detainees, but if I did that, the question would not be serious.

After the event, I approached Congressman Waxman. His handlers were trying to get him out of the room as quickly as possible. He was surrounded by his handlers and security people. Yet he did turn around, and I let him know that I was absolutely not implying that he or anybody else in Congress supported healthcare for detainees. I was just using that as an extreme example to take the illegal alien issue one step further.

He asked me my name, and I told him. I also told him that while he was my political opponent, he was never my enemy. He was gracious about that. I told him that my father was a Holocaust survivor, and that if I saw anybody compare Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler (he mentioned signs at townhalls reflecting such language), I would condemn it. Again, he was appreciative. When I mentioned that it was also wrong for George W. Bush to be compared to Hitler, he did not respond. However, he was being pulled away at that point, so I cannot be certain he heard me.

All I know is that Congressman Waxman would be a lot better off if he held real, honest townhalls. His constituents would be as well.

The alternative is for him to stay isolated in a bubble. This does not serve democracy. It leads to paranoia, and results in ugly situations like the one I faced from Seth Horowitz.

Everybody deserves better.