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August 29, 2009

Carol Shea Porter Manchester NH Town Meeting

I was one of the fortunate 100 citizens to be allowed into the Carol Shea-Porter Town Hall Meeting held in Manchester, NH on August 29, 2009. It was a rainy, gray Saturday morning with precipitation provided courtesy of Tropical Depression Danny.

An email I received from Congresswoman Porter indicated the event would begin at 11:00 a.m., with the doors opening one hour prior to that. My gut told me that I better get there about two hours before the doors opened to have a chance of being one who made it inside with my cheeks in a seat. When I arrived at the Federal Building at 275 Chestnut Street in downtown Manchester at approximately 8:15 a.m., I was the 38th person in line. At that point I was convinced I’d get in.

Walking towards the building, I could see other people with professionally made signs that were in favor of health-care reform. The signs all had the same message. Those who attended that were against the issue all had crude hand-made signs.

Once inside the building so that rain jackets could be taken off, I saw a group of people wearing purple tee shirts that had printed on the back: I sure would like to see the receipts those people have from the stores where they bought those shirts. Well, I doubt that will happen as when you point your browser to the above URL, you end up here:

Ah! Those clever SEIU people.

The point is simple: There was an organized movement behind the scenes getting these proponents out to the event. What’s more, it was very likely paying for the fancy signs as well as tee shirts. I can't imagine an ordinary citizen going to a printer to pay for just one of those fancy signs. Can you? That’s just what these eyes saw and what the data suggests.

After passing through the metal detector, each person had to sign in. During that process I was asked if I wanted to pose a question to Congresswoman Porter. “Heck yes I do,” was my reply. I was handed a small ticket with the number 373023 on it. That number was never called by the diligent Boy Scout during the meeting, but he got close.

The Town Hall meeting ran for an hour, starting about five minutes late. After the Congresswoman entered the room to standing applause of about 40 of the people in the room, we all said the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of our great nation.

Congresswoman Porter then ran through the ground rules of how the event would go, and the time limit for questions and comments.

The first thing that happened were two stories given by what I think were two citizens of the First Congressional District of New Hampshire. I’m pretty positive they were both constituents of the Congresswoman, if I was a betting man. One was an elderly woman who described the ongoing health-care costs she’s experiencing after a stroke she had one day while driving. The second woman worked in the health-care field and commented on how she can’t afford good health-care insurance for her entire family. If my notes are correct, she said she would have to spend $28,000 per year to get coverage.

I was very surprised that Congresswoman Porter didn’t have at least one other person tell a story from the other side. Surely there are other perspectives on this issue. Heck, I’ve been paying my own health-care premiums for the past 25 years. I could have told the audience how Kathy the kids and I went without many things so we could make the premium payments. I would’ve loved to hear a story from some other elderly person talking about how people survived 60 and 70 years ago when there was no Medicare, Medicaid and our burgeoning health-care industry. My guess is that its theme would be more self-sufficiency.

The vast majority of questions were about the health-care issue. At one point, one citizen asked why tort reform was left out of the bills. Congresswoman Porter explained why, and she then brought up a point about how tort reform in Texas did little to bring down health care costs to Texas residents. About ten minutes later, a woman behind me was lucky enough to have her ticket number called. She had a piece of paper with facts gleaned from a newspaper editorial that were in total disagreement with what Congresswoman Porter had said.

Just as the town hall meeting was ending, a frustrated elderly man was escorted from the room by the Federal police officers whose uniforms had a striking resemblance to those worn by the military. He was very upset about people in the room who might not even live in the First District, much less New Hampshire.

The last question of the Town Hall was asked by a woman who was extremely agitated. She wanted to know why the town hall meeting was only an hour long when Congresswoman Porter was spending far more time over the past few weeks at fund-raising events in the district. That got the crowd in the room roaring, and Congresswoman Porter felt compelled to defend why she did it. She was quick to add that she doesn’t take funds from lobbyists or corporations.

Now wait a minute Congresswoman Porter. That's not what the facts show to be the case. A quick visit to the website OpenSecrets and one can see that you got tons of money from corporations and PACs. The sole purpose of a PAC is to lobby. Why would you say something like that in public when it's so easy to discover the truth?

What's more, the July 17th edition of the Union Leader pointed out that Congresswoman Porter raised more money from organizations than she did individuals. Why not just tell the truth and let everyone know exactly where the money comes from? This isn't 1960 or 1970 when it was easy to cloak money sources.

I left with the same feeling about the minimal amount of time to ask questions. Why couldn’t the town meeting last two hours, maybe three? The question I had on the tips of my lips was:

Congresswoman Porter, I want to thank you for hosting this event. Your web site clearly shows your voting record, and your comments today indicate that you absolutely want to vote to approve the upcoming health-care bill. In the past eight months, our deficit has quadrupled to nearly $1.8 Trillion dollars. Our President has said that the new Health Care initiative will cost at least $1 Trillion dollars. One month ago at the US - China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, the top 150 Chinese finance ministers met with US Treasury Secretary Geithner and our top financial officials. The Chinese said at the meetings that if we don’t stop our deficit spending and start to “increase our National Savings”, they would probably stop buying our Treasury Bills which are funding all these programs. My question is: Will you continue to vote for bills that result in deficit spending, and will you introduce aggressive legislation to immediately stop all deficit spending as our great nation is going bankrupt before our very eyes?

It looks like I’ll be sending that question to her via her Contact Form at her website. It will be most interesting to see the response I get.

You can see me at the town hall meeting in the first two minutes in this great video shot by a patriot:

Posted by Tim Carter at August 29, 2009 6:19 PM

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