Democrats immediately seized on the hypocrisy of a Republican health-care forum at Children's Mercy Hospital today. Across the country, conservatives have flocked to town hall meetings to jeer and deride Democratic policymakers because health-care reform is going to bankrupt the country and, uh, unravel all that is good about America.
Apparently, Sen. Kit Bond wasn't interested in hearing liberal advocates assail his opposition to a public option. The Missouri Republican, along with Senators Mitch McConnell and John McCain, came to Kansas City this morning but gave audience only to a group of invited citizens.
But that didn't stop a small band of activists from voicing their opposition outside.
Nispa Bryant, a member of the local American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said she has been without health insurance in the recent past and "it was the scariest thing in the world." She's upset that 40 million people, many of them working but unable to afford insurance premiums, have to deal with that same uncertainty. "The Republicans need to pass a bill with a public option," she insisted. "Give us the option of opting into their health care if we want to."
Dee Berry said she took to the curb to voice her opposition to Republican health-care proposals "make no sense and would put us back in the Middle Ages." She's a proponent of a single-payer system, like the plan spelled out in HR 676. Needless to say, that idea has been shunned by conservatives, including Bond. So what would Berry tell Bond (who's not running for reelection in 2010)? "As a going away present, give us single-payer health care," she said. "Now you've got nothing to lose. You can support the people instead of the Republican Party."
For the event, Jeff Helkenberg (left, red hair and glasses) busted out his sign inspired by V for Vendetta. Just like that dark movie, he said, the U.S. political structure is a lot like a totalitarian dictatorship. It's no wonder that policymakers, who already have enviable health care, aren't too keen to do much more than argue about the issue. "I'm here out of a sense of frustration about the inability of either side to reconcile themselves to what we really need: reform," Helkenberg said. His prescription: throw them all out of office.