Town Hall Questions

Sen. Brownback (R-KS) will be at my employer Monday, and will have a short town hall session. I’m debating whether to go or not, and whether to say anything or not. I don’t agree with him on much, and highly doubt that I’d change his mind on anything. Should I go? If so, what should I say?

Here are some random facts I’m considering mentioning:

  • When Jacob was born 3 years ago, it cost us $250. When Oliver was born this summer, it cost us around $3000, and Oliver wasn’t a more complicated pregnancy.
  • Most of the past 8 years, my insurance premiums have gone up and my benefits have gone down.
  • If I lost my coverage, I couldn’t afford to buy it on my own, even if I still had my job. Insuring our family on the individual market would cost more each month than our mortgage.
  • Almost as much (80%) of my paycheck goes to health care as to federal taxes. I’d gladly take a tax increase if it slowed growth in health care costs.
  • Brownback says it’s too expensive to to comprehensive reform right now. The estimated cost of reform is $900 billion over 10 years, and it will be paid for.
  • Brownback voted for the Bush tax cuts, which cost $2.5 trillion over 10 years, yes to attack Iraq ($700 billion so far), yes on Medicare prescription drug coverage ($400 billion). He didn’t vote for a way to pay for any of these.

Suggestions?

One final note: I will not be doing anything disruptive or disrespectful.

19 thoughts on “Town Hall Questions

  1. Honestly? I’d try to nail him down on whether healthcare should be a right as a citizen or if it should be a privilege – and if he thinks it is a privilege to explain exactly why it should be in a system where education, police protection, aid in natural disasters, etc. are all provided by the state.

    I’d love to hear a real answer for why protection from illness should be any different – especially when the elderly are already covered under socialized medicine.

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    Stuart Reply:

    If I infer/remember correctly from your past blog posts (and I apologize if I have the wrong end of the stick here) you are a Christian. You also live in what I understand to be an overwhelmingly Christian part of the country. So how about mentioning Matthew 25 and asking how he can square that with voting against the desperate needs of ‘the least of these’?

    If he comes back with something about that referring to individuals, rather than to Government, you could point out that he is an individual and there’s nothing in the Bible that I’m aware of granting people in powerful Government positions an exemption from caring for the needy.

    (full disclosure: although I was raised Christian, I’m now an atheist. I think Jesus had the right idea on most things to do with morality, though)

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    John Goerzen Reply:

    Interesting approach. You do remember correctly.

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    John Goerzen Reply:

    Frankly, I don’t think it will be possible to nail him down on anything. He’ll effectively be both speaker and moderator, and thoroughly in control of the room.

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    Buck Reply:

    Nevertheless, please do

    I find it hard to square Browback’s pro-life position and
    Catholic religion with ducking the question of why people
    in this country should have different levels of health-care
    entitlement based on their earning potential; just like leav-
    ing the matter of which babies are born and which are
    aborted to the mother’s discretion, letting people receive
    inferior levels of health care–or go begging–so that some
    inevitably follow the path to decline and death rather than
    have the healthy outcomes that others can assure them-
    selves by purchasing more assiduous care–or that their
    parents can assure them by being rich and being their
    parents and purchasing such care for them–seems like
    government falling down in its duty to make sure the lives
    of the most vulnerable aren’t unjustifiably deprived them

    This is buying into a fair bit of socialism, but i think the
    above questions inquiring into his Christian outlook on the
    issue and how it doesn’t lead him to envision some more
    active role for the government when there’s no other
    agent in society that’s going to be able to guarantee that
    people aren’t dying unnecessarily (let alone that people
    aren’t driven into financial ruin by a medical calamity) are
    important ones for him to have answers for before his
    maker asks him and the rest of us the Matthew 25
    questions

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  2. Are the town halls healthcare-specific, or is that just the thing that’s taken them over? Because if it’s the latter, what *I* would want to ask Brownback (and a bunch of other people) is what they’re doing about the Heartland Flyer connection, and why they haven’t managed to get it together with Oklahoma (who apparently left us at the altar and asked for ARRA funds to run to Tulsa instead of the KS line).

    Heck, maybe I’d ask that even if it *was* supposed to be a healthcare-only thing. Because I think we could all use a break from *that*.

    Reply

    John Goerzen Reply:

    No, I think it’s wide open. Unfortunately I agree with Brownback as much on passenger rail as I do on healthcare.

    I do agree with *you* on passenger rail, and the Heartland Flyer. KDOT also has really dropped the ball. You might check out northflyer.org, FYI.

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    Karen in Wichita Reply:

    The Northern Flyer folks (well, one folk) spoke at the Wichita Independent Neighborhoods meeting this week, which was why it was on my mind.

    And yeah, she mentioned the KDOT ball-dropping as well, though if you read ODOT’s take on it, it sounds to me more like that’s just Oklahoma’s excuse to run through Tulsa instead. Given Oklahoma politics (and geography), I suspect if an excuse hadn’t been provided they’d’ve had to invent one. Tulsa’s an 800-pound gorilla sometimes. (The existence of both the “Oklahoma State Fair” and the “Tulsa State Fair” says much about both state and city.)

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  3. I will avoid making a suggestion on the topic of healthcare, because I disagree entirely with your position on it. (Not that I agree with the Senator on all points either; in your last bullet point, I agree with the tax cuts but disagree with both items of spending.)

    I don’t recall your employer, and a quick search didn’t turn them up, but I’d guess you probably work for a tech company, possibly a FOSS-friendly one. Thus, that sounds like the perfect venue to bring up topics such as ACTA, warrantless wiretapping, and the DMCA/DMCRA.

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  4. Before asking if you can convince him, ask if there’s anything he’s likely to convince you about? These things tend to work both ways or not at all…

    Personally, I don’t understand why private individual insurance isn’t getting much attention; there’s no excuse for it being cheaper for someone’s employer to be able to ensure them more cheaply than they can insure themselves. Seems a no-brainer for reform from either a social justice perspective or a free market one to me…

    But then I’ve got both good government provided healthcare and good, affordable, private individual coverage provided by an international corporation that’s basically a mutual society writ large…

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    John Goerzen Reply:

    You never know, I suppose; but I’ve already done a fair bit of research on what he thinks from his website. I highly doubt that he has done the same for me.

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  5. @aj: “Personally, I don’t understand why private individual insurance isn’t getting much attention; there’s no excuse for it being cheaper for someone’s employer to be able to ensure them more cheaply than they can insure themselves.”

    Really? You can’t see why group rates make things cheaper?

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    aj Reply:

    As long whoever’s selling you insurance is selling it to lots of people, you’re getting “grouped”, and usually there are bigger groups you’re a part of than just your workplace.

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  6. You may not change the Senator’s mind, but you never know the influence you’ll have on the rest of the people in the room. And even if you’re a minority constituent, it’s worth reminding your representatives that you exist! I hope you’ll say something.

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  7. @Anonymous – your snarkiness about why companies pay less indicates to me that you don’t really understand it either.

    It’s not a ‘volume discount’, i.e. like the fact that my company pays far less for printer toner than I do. It’s based on two things: 1) typically people who have jobs that offer health insurance are in better health; and 2) by offering it as a benefit as part of your compensation, they get a far better participation rate from low risk people, 22 year olds etc. – otherwise only the high risk people will get it. As the low risk subsidize the high risk (that’s the way insurance works) the more low risk people you can get in, the lower the price you can offer.

    @John — the town hall is in a few hours so you probably won’t see this. My answer to you would be go. Hold fast to your convictions, but go with an open mind. Try to always consider that intelligent, informed people of the best intentions, can see the same facts and reach different conclusions. Go, try to persuade and try to understand the other side. Don’t demonize, and don’t let yourself be demonized.

    Reply

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