I attendend Congressman Kevin McCarthy's (R-Bakersfield) health care "town hall" meeting last night. In a few words, it was little more than a political rally filled with people looking for affirmation, rather than information.
From the FOX News-like "Constituent Resource Packet" distributed by Congressman McCarthy's staff, to the Q&A period, it was obvious that the rally was geared to feeding the "bash the government" crowd. Indeed, Congressman McCarthy did a very good job of feeding his supporters the political red meat they need as they try to feel their way through this era of Obama politics.
Congressman McCarthy quickly dispensed with one disabled person who made a plea for government health care (by saying he needs more choices and tax credits) and made quick work of another who made it clear that congress has the authority to take up health care with the "General Welfare" clause in the constitution (he told him he could ask only one question). For good measure we were entertained with the vile passions - evident in the loud ovations - that got whipped up every time someone mentioned those damn "illegals" ripping off the system (who, I'm sure, Jesus would want to deny health care).
What struck me as particularly good grandstanding was Congressman McCarthy's constant reference to budget deficits. Recall, republicans said little to nothing when President Bush gave away anticipated trillion dollar surpluses in the form of tax cuts. This massive transfer of wealth to the rich - partially funded with middle class paid social security surplus dollars - helped put our nation's debt picture further into the red. Congressman McCarthy said nothing about this.
For good measure, Congressman McCarthy also failed to mention the two primary reasons that we're going to see a $1.5 trillion dollar deficit this fiscal year: (1) President Obama's budget hand was forced by Bush's bungled economic programs and failed economy and (2) President Obama doesn't want to hide budget numbers like President Bush did when he was in office.
Think about it, President Obama (and George W. Bush) wouldn't have had to spend $750 billion in stimulus (and debt-funded) money if President Bush's "free market" deregulation-bubble economy programs hadn't blown up in our nation's face. If you're keeping score at home, that's $750 billion in this (and next) year's budget that President Obama had forced upon him by President Bush and his failed policies.
As well, President Obama made it clear that he wouldn't hide budget numbers as President Bush did. Keep in mind that every year President Bush put up his budget numbers he conveniently ignored including the costs of the War on Terror, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is like doing your household budget but conveniently ignoring the costs of vacation, holiday, tuition, birthday, and other non-daily (or supplemental) expenses.
Instead, President Bush waited to push through emergency or "supplemental" budget bills after each budget was passed, which helped many (mostly republican) Americans think that we weren't spending hundreds of billions. Nice. These numbers didn't show up in President Bush's budget because President Bush didn't want America to see how much his Bungled Wars Project was going to cost the American taxpayer each year. If you're still keeping score at home, you can add at least another $250-300 billion to the budget deficit that President Obama inherited.
This was not a town hall designed to inform the people. It was a political rally. In Kevin's district it's good politics. In America it's a shame.
I'll have more to say about Congressman McCarthy's analysis of the health care bill (H.R. 3200) in the coming days.