GOP Reps Team With Lobbyists To Mislead Protesters About Health Care Reform

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Yesterday, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) claimed that recent town hall disruptions are an example of democracy in action–people voicing their concerns about health care reform will really mean.

That may very well be–but things might be different if people such as Price himself weren’t misleading protest organizers, and scaring voters, about what’s in the bill.On June 10, Price and Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), participated in a Tea Party Town Hall/teleconference, organized by Conservatives for Patients Rights, in Washington, DC. They appeared as panelists alongside representatives from conservative interest groups, including Americans for Tax Reform and the National Tax Limitation Committee, to provide protesters with messaging and strategy for their looming attack Democratic health care reform proposals, still being drafted at the time.

“This is not a time to be timid,” Price announced. “Freedom is under assault in this nation, it’s time for all good Americans to stand up and fight.”

The event, and Price’s later statements, bring greater clarity to the role Republicans are playing in the recent onslaught of public hostility to health care reform. It shows conclusively that the GOP has teamed up with lobbyists to gin up opposition to health care reform by misleading and egging on protesters–only to turn around and claim that their opposition to health care reform is based on the fact that Americans are scared of what health care reform means.

As you’d expect from conservative Republicans, Price warned those in attendance that the Democrats would force 100 million people onto a public plan, while Gingrey assured participants that Republicans would at least weaken whatever Democrats try to pass.

Perhaps more interesting than anything Price or Gingrey said themselves, though, are the messages they endorsed. Comparing the current debate to the failure of Clinton care, Lewis Uhler, president of NTLC, said “Obama is smarter than that.”

Rahm emanuel and the Chicago crowd that is running this administration is smarter than the Clintons were in ’93-’94. They have two steps. Step one is a Fasciti organization of medical care in which they have co-opted the large medical insurer/suppliers and the pharmaceutical companies to join in a partnership with the government and run the small health care providers out of business….

Phase two is when having a public option which will be required in this operation they too will be simply managers of a government run system. We will then spin into a socialized medicine single payer system. And that’s the program, that’s the strategy these guys have.

At the end of the 90 minute session, both Price and Gingrey–who each serve on House committees with jurisdiction over reform legislation–showered their fellow panelists with fulsome praise, and encouraged organizers to spread the word.

Price told listeners that they could stop health care reform “by what you’re doing tonight and then some.”

“I’m a little worried that the Obama administration and this democratic majority will get some type of health reform plan passed, and maybe before the end of the year,” said Gingrey. “But we, as Tom Price said, we can change that, the Tea Party Protesters can change that.”

“I don’t want them to destroy the best health care system in the world,” he added. “I’m proud to be a part of the panel.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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