Texas labor takes back Town Hall forums

The AFL-CIO reports that pro-reform activists are overcoming the extreme tactics employed by the health insurance industry during this August congressional recess.

In North Texas, after initially being taken aback by shrill shouting tactics and threats of public violence, calm pro-reform activists are quietly making their point with double the turnout of those clinging to the status quo.

The first successes were reported in Houston, where the principal officer of the local AFL-CIO reported good public crowds with reasonable deportment.

Then the Texas federation reported a turnout of 450 for reform on their parking lot in Austin. In Dallas on the morning of August 17, 200 silent pro-reform activists more than doubled the rowdy crowd of 60 outside a town hall meeting featuring North Texas’ only Democratic Congressperson, Eddie Bernice Johnson, and the pride of the Republican House Re-Election Committee, Pete Sessions.

Inside, Sessions blasted what he called “The Democrat Proposal for a Government-Run Health Care System.” His literature said that “119 million people would be displaced from their private health insurance and put on the ‘public option’ or government run plan.” Verbally, he said it would be 200 million. His literature contradicted Sessions by saying “free markets always provide the best distribution of goods and services.” If “free market” insurance is better, why would 119 or 200 million choose the public option?

Congressman Sessions, whose district now include the home of G W Bush, has his own suggestions to improve the health care. One of them, in his literature, would “Allow patients on current government plans (Medicare/Medicaid/SCHIP/VA) to take a defined contribution to purchase in the private insurance market.” In other words, he would destroy the successful programs now running, because insurance companies would “cherry pick” the least expensive patients!

Sessions said that the insurance industry could regulate itself, but Congresswoman Johnson and others asked why it hadn’t done so already. He said that proposed reforms were simply “socialized medicine.” Congresswoman Johnson replied, to great audience response, “Call it what you want to, it’s better than nothing!”

The Congresswoman also received a big response when she said she wanted to end a system where “profits come before people!”