At scattered events across the US, protesters are confronting members of Congress whose summer “town hall” meetings aim to get a sense of how Americans feel about overhauling healthcare.
Boiling Springs in South Carolina — population 4,500 — was true to its name on Thursday, giving US Representative Bob Inglis a taste of rising anger among conservative voters toward US President Barack Obama’s reform plan.
“There is no way, shape or form we need to have a national healthcare system. No! Nothing! None! It’s got to stop now,” said one man who addressed the audience of 300 people to sustained applause.
On Friday, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin chimed in, calling Obama’s health plan “downright evil” in her first online comments since leaving office.
She said in a Facebook posting that he would create a “death panel” that would deny care to the neediest Americans.
“The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care,” the former Republican vice presidential candidate wrote.
Obama, a Democrat, campaigned on a promise of offering affordable health care to all Americans, because the US is the only developed nation that does not have a comprehensive national health care plan for all its citizens.
He has proposed a system that would include government and private insurers.
Republicans say that private insurers would be unable to compete, leaving the country with only a government-run health program. They warn that could leave Americans with little control over their health care.
The protests have drawn widespread media attention, and Republicans have seized on them as well as polls showing a decline in support for Obama and his agenda as evidence that public support is lacking for his signature legislation.
Pushing back, Democrats have accused Republicans of sanctioning mob tactics, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accused protesters earlier this week of trying to sabotage the democratic process.
The plans seek to provide coverage to nearly 46 million uninsured Americans and bring down healthcare costs.
Conservatives say they will lead to a nationalized healthcare system where government, rather than doctors, will make medical decisions. They say the plans will end up costing them more and boost the federal deficit.
With lawmakers gone from Washington for a month and much of the plans still to be drafted, the rancorous battle has spread to usually staid, relaxed town hall meetings.
Last week, a crowd in Philadelphia directed boos at Obama’s Health and Human Services secretary, Kathleen Sibelius, and Democratic Senator Arlen Specter.
Protesters disrupted another meeting on Thursday in Tampa, Florida, with cries of “tyranny,” and police made arrests at a similar meeting in St Louis, Missouri.
Opinion polls show that many Americans feel the US healthcare system, the costliest in the world, is in need of reform. They also show millions of Americans with health insurance are satisfied with it.
A group called the Tea Party protesters — named for the Boston tax revolt that helped spark the American Revolution — has launched a campaign to disrupt Democratic town hall meetings on healthcare.
Around 1,600km northwest of Boiling Springs — in Oconto Falls, Wisconsin — the mood was different. Vic Bast, 86, a World War II fighter pilot and retired school principal, attended a meeting with Democratic Congressman Steve Kagen.
“I’m a veteran, so I have good healthcare. But my daughter has just retired and she has to pay US$1,000 a month in premiums,” Bast said.
“Healthcare costs are getting out of control. I don’t know if this bill will pass, but something must be done,” Bast said.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
SHOW OF SOLIDARITY: The publisher’s ‘Apple Daily’ newspaper has had to raise the number of copies printed from 70,000 to 550,000 to meet a huge surge in demand They have occupied Hong Kong’s central business district, marched by the hundreds of thousands through the territory’s streets and endured tear gas and pepper spray in pitched battles with riot police. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy supporters are now wielding a new protest weapon: their stock-market trading accounts. To show support for Jimmy Lai (黎智英), the publisher and outspoken government critic who was on Monday arrested under the territory’s new national security legislation, Hong Kongers have been piling into shares of his media company Next Digital. The result: a more than 1,100 percent surge in two days that propelled the stock to a seven-year