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Larson Defends The Affordable Care Act, Tea Party Confronts

by Christine Stuart | Oct 7, 2013 5:30am
(9) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Congress, Health Care, White House, Wethersfield

Christine Stuart photo

U.S. Rep. John B. Larson

U.S. Rep. John Larson came to the Wethersfield Library to talk to his constituents Sunday about the federal government shutdown, but instead he spent most of his time defending the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Speaking to a crowd of more than 80 people Sunday, Larson said it’s about 40 members of the House Republican caucus associated with the Tea Party who are holding the federal government hostage by refusing to pass a “clean” continuing resolution to keep funding the government until the end of the year.

“I think they are misguided in not understanding the ramifications and the unintended consequences that take place,” Larson said.

He said there have been two election cycles since the Affordable Care Act became law and then was upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court. He said he’s happy to debate the underlying issues in the health care law, but all the Tea Party wants to do is defund it or repeal it, not fix it.

“You have a disagreement with the president and you have a disagreement with the Senate, the solution isn’t to punish the American people by shutting down their government,” Larson said. “You go back to the committee and you make your point in committee and if you can’t do it in committee or on the floor of the Congress, you make your point at the ballot box.”

The impasse came to a head in the final days of September as the Oct. 1 deadline to fund the government approached.

On Sept. 20, Republicans in the House added repeal of Obamacare to their continuing budget resolution. The Senate sent a “clean” continuing resolution back to the House on Sept. 27. The House attached a one-year delay of Obamacare to the resolution and sent it back to the Senate. At 2:20 p.m. Sept. 30 — the final day before the shutdown — the Senate removed the provision and sent it back to the House.

The House again attached an amendment to delay the individual mandate. The Senate stripped it and sent it back to the House a few hours before the shutdown began.

Larson said that in the midst of the worst recession this country has seen in decades, instead of working together, “we’re getting more extreme.”

He continued: “Would it be fair for Democrats to say: ‘We’re going to shut down the government until we get gun control?’”

But a handful of self-identified Tea Party members in the audience tried to present their arguments in support of the government shutdown.

“Our goals are to get us back to a constitutional government, which Obama has broken,” Pat Martick of Meriden said.

Martick said the Congress has the right not to fund the Affordable Care Act, which also is known as Obamacare.

“The Congress doesn’t want to fund it and they have that right,” Matrick said.

Christine Stuart photo

Pat Martick addresses Larson

Larson pointed out that Martick was referring to a minority of members of Congress who don’t want to fund it, rather than a majority. He said the Republicans are relying on a parliamentary maneuver in holding the “American people hostage.”

Martick said the Tea Party is all about reducing the deficit.

Larson said if a “clean” continuing resolution gets to the floor of the House there will be more Republicans voting for it than against it.

“Understand that this was a tactical political move that was made,” Larson said. “It was the wrong move, very wrong in terms of its unintended consequences.”

He pointed out that 48 percent of the Republican members in the House have been there three years or less and as a result may not fully grasp the problem. Still, Martick urged more than 80 of Larson’s constituents to seek out the other side of the argument.

William Brown, who also associated himself with the Tea Party, said the country has got to stop borrowing and taxing and calling that investment.

“My understanding of investment is what you’ve earned, what you’ve saved and what you’ve decided to put your own money to,” he said. “To turn to the government constantly in this state of debt is a huge spiritual crisis in this country. We have to return to what America is all about.”

Brown said he didn’t want to pay a penalty because he has decided he doesn’t want health insurance. “To me that’s grossly unconstitutional,” he said.

By a 5-4 vote the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate, which allows the Internal Revenue Service to impose a tax penalty on any individual who does not have health insurance.

Christine Stuart photo Larson pointed out that the plans offered on the exchanges are plans from private insurance carriers.

“But what if I don’t want it? They’re still going to fine me,” Brown added.

The penalty for not buying health insurance in 2014 is $95 per adult, $285 for a family, or 1 percent of income, whichever is greater. In 2015 the penalty increases to $325 per adult, $975 for a family, or 2 percent of annual income, whichever is greater. By 2016 the tax will be $695 per adults, $2,085 for a family, or 2.5 percent of annual income, whichever is greater.

“I believe you have responsibility to purchase insurance for yourself and for your family, which as you indicated before is the individual, God-faring thing to do on behalf of not only you and your family, but everybody else who could be impacted by your lack thereof,” Larson told the man.

Larson said all the people who have insurance in the private market already are paying higher rates to cover the cost of the uninsured who use the emergency room when they fall ill or are injured.

Other attendees were supportive of the Affordable Care Act. One man who spoke up said he knows several people who will benefit from the law.

Larson sparred with his constituents for more than two hours Sunday and appeared to aggravate some attendees when he opened the forum by showing a segment from Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show.” Most of the crowd laughed at the Comedy Central comedian, but there were more than a handful who scolded Larson for presenting what they felt was a one-sided argument from an entertainer.

Larson’s staff also distributed copies of an Oct. 1 editorial written by Thomas Friedman, in which he discusses the gerrymandering that occurred after the 2010 Census. Based upon information from several political analysts, Friedman concluded that “there is little risk of political punishment for the Tea Party members now holding the country hostage.”

There are no Republicans in Connecticut’s Congressional delegation. The last Republican Congressman from Connecticut was Chris Shays, who was defeated by U.S. Rep. Jim Himes in 2008.

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(9) Comments

posted by: dano860 | October 7, 2013  9:22am

“He (Larson) pointed out that 48 percent of the Republican members in the House have been there three years or less…”  If ever there was a reason for term limits, John is it. He doesn’t go anywhere to talk to people, he goes to shout and rant at them. For some reason he believes the more you shout and thump the podium the more people believe him.
Negotiations are done between two parties and as I understand it the Democrats aren’t coming to the table. Owebama care had many ideas put forth by the Republicans but they rejected them all.
John is not a comedian and using left wing comedy proves that. Timing is everything in comedy and this was poor timing for a politician.

posted by: Noteworthy | October 7, 2013  1:06pm

The effort to defund Obamacare is misguided and wrong. It is equally problematic to sit on your hands and do nothing. All the bluster, and podium pounding is what you do when you have nothing but rhetorical uselessness to offer as a solution.

How does passing one budget in all these years right? How does not negotiating, not offering a solution, a discussion, a point helpful? How is it remotely proper for example, to shut down access to private campgrounds in New Hampshire and elsewhere at the height of the season, a move that will cost private business people tens of thousands of dollars correct? Blocking monuments? These things are intentionally designed to cause Americans pain, to hurt their families and businesses for political purposes - something predicted but never felt with Sequester.

A government that is partially shut down is a failure of leadership by all of the people responsible for keeping it open. ALL 537 of them including the president and vice president and every member of Congress. There are 320 million Americans - 537 of them run the government. What’s being done is group punishment for the sins of 537 people. It’s nothing short of disgraceful.

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | October 7, 2013  9:00pm

DrHunterSThompson

right on, noteworthy.

HST

posted by: Art Vandelay | October 8, 2013  6:04am

I commend Representative Larson for conducting this public forum.  Even though Larson tows the Democratic Party line and votes lock step w/Nancy Pelosi, I give him credit.  The only time Rosa Delauro steps in front of an audience is to promote one of her left wing causes. She rarely if ever takes questions from or listens to her constituents.

posted by: ASTANVET | October 8, 2013  11:35am

“I believe you have responsibility to purchase insurance for yourself and for your family, which as you indicated before is the individual” - so if Larson agrees it is an INDIVIDUAL responsibility, how does he reconcile the GOVT forcing people to engage in activity?  DO AS I SAY - that seems to be their “leadership” style.  The tantrums they throw when the republicans in congress hold the line on the power of the purse, Larson and his buddies intentionally inflict pain and suffering.  Flash forward a few years, at the next 25 Trillion dollar debt ceiling debate.  When GOVT is in full control of your health insurance.  Do you think they won’t use that as leverage to get their way?  I don’t trust them… ANY of them as far as I can throw them.  We are faced with two choices in any election from here forward.  Authoritarian or libertarian rule.  One seeks to rule over you, the other seeks to give the power back to the smallest form of government.

posted by: useyourhead2 | October 8, 2013  12:23pm

John Larson dares to demonize House Republicans for using parliamentary maneuvers as though neither he nor his party would ever do that.  But of course, we would NOT be confirming the lies that we could keep our own health insurance; that it would cost $2500 per year less; and other fallacious gems, but for the fact that a parliamentary maneuver was used in the Democrat controlled Senate to foil a cloture vote with 40 seated Republicans. 

The Affordable Care Act was a draft Senate bill that was going NOWHERE, but dusted off and passed hastily before Republican Senate elect Scott Brown of Mass. could be seated.  Thus, the Democrat majority rushed a vote of cloture and moved this very ill conceived and faulty bill out of the Senate.  Even then, the sponsors in the Democrat controlled Senate had to bribe members to attain their votes, e.g., Mary Landreau of LA, Ben Nelson of NE.  Like one of its authors, Democrat Senator Max Baucus, once referenced it: A train wreck.

So don’t stand before your constituents who regularly return you to office John Larson with 70% plurality from a position of high moral character to disparage those who attempt to right a terrible wrong that the Democrat Party, President Obama, and you have foisted onto our backs.  It takes NO courage when 70% of your constituents vote for you JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE A DEMOCRAT IN BLUE STATE CONNECTICUT. 

Ask the folks of UPS, Walgreens, and a list of others who are losing health insurance for themselves and their spouses; losing their full time work for part time work; or cannot get a job because of this wonderful example of partisan stupidity, if the Tea Party Republicans and their constituents are standing up to your tyranny and the tyranny of a Supreme Court Justice who was willing to perform legal contortions to find this affront to personal freedom, “Constitutional.”

P.S., I have voted against John Larson every time I vote and hopefully more eyes are open than before account of this Affordable Care Act that is without a doubt the single biggest misnomer of the decade.  Yes, elections have consequences.  Next time, think different to get a different result.

posted by: sofaman | October 8, 2013  2:51pm

A program that was the keystone of a twice-elected president, passed into law, and confirmed by a Supreme Court decision is now “tyranny.”

Don’t look now, but this is actually called simple democracy. Tea Party hacks have nothing left but the opposite of democracy: the leveraging of the minor opinion and its destructive results, as their only weapon.

posted by: Art Vandelay | October 8, 2013  4:33pm

To Sofaman,
If you consider making sure this legislation came to a vote just prior to Scott Brown taking his seat in the Senate true Democracy than you better take a look at what the term means. If you consider bribing Senators & Congressmen for votes to get Obamacare passed, you better take another look at what the word Democracy means. The Democrats were hell bent on ramming this down our throats one way or another. Yes it will NEVER be repealed just like Social Security & Medicare.  Mark my word when we’re all dead and gone this masterful piece of legislation will financially ruin this great country. It’s a tape worm that will keep growing just like other “Progressive” landmarks as the Income Tax, Social Security & Medicare.

posted by: ASTANVET | October 8, 2013  7:46pm

sofaman - ok, you do know that we are not a simple democracy right?  I am sure we can look at points in history where a majority has been a little tyrannical… How about the majority who beheaded people at the bastille?  I will not inundate you with times in history that just because 51% wanted to do something it was not just.  This particular law, which was a penalty, or a tax depending on which part of the majority opinion you read, was passed in the senate (revenue must be initiated in the house), it was ‘passed’ in the dead of night through parlor tricks.  the point of federalism is that each community, each county, city, state solves their problem themselves - not binding other communities to their one solution.  If the town you live in wants universal single payer health care system - or a 40K minimum salary for all residents then work it out in YOUR town.  Tyranny comes when you force YOUR idea on the rest of us.  You like the ACA - I hate it… I have no choice because i will be fined (what happens if i don’t pay) - hmmm… 1600 new IRS agents - seize my property?  Just because it was made “law” doesn’t mean it is just - and NO CONGRESS shall be bound by a previous congress - they can change the law at any time, or defund it.  Thats just the way our system works.