California and Florida congressmen struggle to explain GOP plans and police escort one politician to car after tempestuous town hall event
By Staff and agencies / The Guardian / Sunday 5 February 2017 11.17 EST
Angry voters confronted Republican lawmakers at town halls in California and Florida this weekend, fearful that the party’s promise to repeal former president Obama’s healthcare law will leave them without a comprehensive alternative.
In California on Saturday, congressman Tom McClintock had to be escorted by police, having faced tough questions about healthcare, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – referred to pejoratively by Republicans as Obamacare – and President Trump’s agenda. Protesters followed him, shouting: “Shame on you!”
In an equally conservative district in Florida, congressman Gus Bilirakis answered questions from town hall attendees worried about the loss of insurance and higher premiums if the ACA is repealed.
The events were captured on Facebook, the Saint Peters blog and other news organizations and echoed angry town halls that Democrats faced in 2009, when Obama pressed for passage of his sweeping law.
Republicans have repeatedly said the law is a costly disaster with rising costs. Democrats say the GOP effort will threaten healthcare availability and raise rates, angering 20 million people who gained insurance under the ACA and tens of millions of others who benefit from the statute’s coverage requirements.
Last week, at a GOP retreat in Philadelphia, McClintock raised concerns about Republican plans.
“We’d better be sure that we’re prepared to live with the market we’ve created,” McClintock was quoted as saying in secret recordings obtained by news outlets including the Guardian.
“That’s going to be called ‘Trumpcare’. Republicans will own that lock, stock and barrel, and we’ll be judged in the election less than two years away.”
On Saturday, McClintock was constantly interrupted and booed as he defended his party’s agenda at a theater in downtown Roseville, the population center of his sprawling congressional district, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Hundreds of protesters stood outside chanting “Vote him out” while those inside held signs that read “resist”, “dump Tom McTrump” and “climate change is real”.
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“I understand you do not like Donald Trump,” McClintock said. “I sympathize with you. There have been elections where our side has lost … just a word of friendly advice: remember that there were many people in America who disagreed with and feared Barack Obama just as vigorously as you disagree with and fear Donald Trump.”
A video posted on the newspaper’s website showed demonstrators chanting “Shame on you!” as they followed McClintock as he walked to a waiting car surrounded by police officers.
Trump supporters also attended the town hall. One, David Ramsey, said he volunteered for McClintock’s 2008 campaign and voted for Trump in November.
“President Trump is doing what he said he was going to do,” Ramsey said. “I like what he’s talking about – securing our borders and vetting immigrants. Hopefully, he’ll lower taxes, and reduce big government and regulation.”