Listening to a Lee Terry tele-town-hall

Just got this call. I’m sitting at my desk now so I figured I’d take notes. I’ll update this as more good stuff comes up.

6:43 – Right now there’s a super freakout caller claiming folks in Washington are trying to pass secret laws to put people in jail for Ron Paul bumper stickers. He refers to “the constitution given by God.” He said people in Washington say “If you’re for the constitution, you’re a terrorist. That’s why I moved to Nebraska.” Terry assures the caller that he’s a Constitutionalist.

6:44 – Caller asks what Terry has done to be bipartisan since Obama was elected. Terry says no bipartisanship was allowed on healthcare reform. Caller goes off on the widely accepted conclusion that bipartisanship rests exclusively with Democrats.

Terry: “I’m not going to sell out my principles on a single-payer healthcare system.”

6:47 – Caller asks what’s wrong with single-payer. “When you let the government take over it, I think you’ll find out that the private sector was doing (healthcare) better.” Terry talks about his healthcare bill, claims Anthony Weiner said Terry’s bill was the way to go and then voted against it.

Caller is being pretty aggressive, but Terry is handling her pretty well.

6:49 – Caller talking about Haiti just said the country’s population is 9,000.

6:51 – Self-described independent talks about mistakes Democrats made, saying that Democrats didn’t make the economy a priority. Small-business owner complaining about all the new regulations and taxes that Democrats are forcing on them. Caller asks what’s happening to improve business climate to get employment up. Terry says most small-business taxes will go up January 1, 2011. “Their income taxes are goign to go up. Dividend taxes are going to go up. Capital gains taxes are going to go up.” Says healthcare will put pressure on small and large businesses “who will absorb most of the costs of that,” then talks about cap & trade hitting manufacturing and OPPD hard. Says OPPD will increase energy costs 25% in the first year.

Terry says small businesses are saying “You guys are coming after us rather than helping us,” and Terry says they’re absolutely right. Talks about Speaker Pelosi’s jobs bill, said her previous jobs bill was unemployment insurance. Terry says we have to wait and see what Pelosi comes up with.

6:56 – Still the same caller, now talking about his love of Kennedy and how Democrats have gone so far left since then.

Line of the night — Terry says if Kennedy were active today, he’d be a mainstream Republican.

6:57 – New caller asking if a loss in Massachusetts means Democrats will move to the center rather than being so extremely liberal. I would just like somebody to tell me what a move to the center looks like. How do you make a stimulus loaded with tax cuts and a private-insurance health bill any more moderate?

Caller: “It seems like a majority of the politicians there forget they’re there at our convenience!” Caller doesn’t understand why federal government isn’t reducing their spending. Doesn’t understand basic economics.

7:06 – Man, it sounds like I missed some good stuff. I went to help my wife carry in groceries and this guy sounds like he’s a pretty informed caller, kind of flipping out on private insurers. But now I have a beer and some Fritos.

“There’s no doubt that the insurance companies are not pure in this at all,” Terry says. “I really hate sticking up for them and some of their policies. … The pre-existing condition exclusion — we can deal with that without having to go to a single-payer national system, removing the artificial caps, those are things that can be done and there would be great bipartisan support on those things.”

Either Terry is misinformed or lying. I give him the benefit of the doubt that he might have just not thought through this. If you eliminate discrimination, you have to have a mandate or premiums skyrocket because people can wait to get insurance until they get sick. And then if you mandate insurance at the prices they’re at now, you need subsidies. And so you get to the House and Senate bills, which Terry describes as national takeovers.

It’s why you will never see Republicans pass a bill that does nothing more than eliminate discrimination against the sick (and why the House Republicans’ healthcare bill didn’t include it even though Terry argues it’s an easy sell that virtually everyone agrees with). No matter what pundits like Peggy Noonan and David Brooks tell you, it’s not that simple.

Wow, apparently this guy railing on insurance companies is a Tea Party conservative!

7:12 – Terry tells a caller that 50 + 1 votes passes a bill in the Senate. Caller disagrees, not sure that’s right. No hint of irony or anything, no undercurrent of filibuster criticism. He’s just not sure Terry is right.

7:13 – Terry is as lost as I am. This caller just took so long to ask his question that I zoned out until he got to “Why did this happen?” Finally I agree with Terry — “Why did what happen?”

7:15 – Now this caller is complaining about snow plowing. Corrects himself because he mistakenly mentioned the wrong side of the street. Now he’s talking about some old guy being related to somebody who has a pickup. I wonder if Terry is in the bathroom.

7:16 – This snowplow issue is now being related to worldwide issues. Says the United States has no gold and Fort Knox has been cleaned out. “The president has his $750 trillion dollar wherever it were.” I think that’s what he said. “I appreciate your input,” Terry says. He’s nothing if not polite.

7:17 – Caller asks where the food production industry will be in 2 years. Ooh, good pivot — Terry says cap and trade will hurt the food production trade because they use electricity. Terry warns this guy his job will probably move overseas if cap and trade passes, but he doesn’t think it’ll pass the Senate. Terry says this guy’s job is safe for now, and he hopes this guy’s plant expands. This exchange had the undercurrent of a conversation with a psychic.

7:19 – New caller wonders if Terry’s tele-townhall is just Omaha or if it’s “all over.” I do like the idea of Lee Terry doing a national tele-townhall. Caller wants spending reduced. Sees suffering senior citizens who are God-fearing taxpayers, but due to illness or disability, they lose everything. “I just want Congress and the Senate to have that compassion and the dignity for the people who have been paying taxes all their life and all of a sudden something happens and they have to go on Medicaid.” It’s nice to see people who are honestly tying together patriotism and concern for their fellow citizen.

Customer concerned about Nebraska’s transition from caseworkers to call centers, says it’s bad for people who need those services. Terry said he didn’t know about that and will check with the governor.

7:22 – New caller has a “Constitutional question.” Says the House is the people’s representatives or something like that. Says something got changed — didn’t follow question. Terry says around 1910-1915 the people approved an amendment to the constitution that Senators would be popularly elected, but before then, they were chosen by the state legislature or the governor. Now I know the guy’s question.

I think the guy said he bought a copy of the constitution and it didn’t have that amendment.

7:23 – Follow-up question, asking about separation of powers. Suggests it’s unconstitutional for Obama to campaign for a Senator. Terry says “As an individual, he can express his opinion just like anyone else.”

Caller wonders if anyone in the House is talking about impeachment. Terry says no. Caller requests Terry be the leader on that. Terry says he disagrees with Obama’s policies, but that he hasn’t committed any high crimes and misdemeanors. “Academically, my answer to you is offering bad policy, even policy that runs counter to the constitution, is not impeachable. That’s left up to the electorate.” He gave the caller about as much as he could without going full Teabag.

7:25 – Same caller says the rumor is that the Republicans didn’t finish the Clinton impeachment because they didn’t want to run against Al Gore as an incumbent. Terry doesn’t really bite but thanks the caller.

7:26 – This new caller strongly agrees with the guy calling about the snow removal. ??!?? What was the snow removal guy even talking about? Stuff with street directions and neighbors knowing boys with pickup trucks and Fort Knox …

Caller then pivots into saying he gets annoyed hearing people say “I wouldn’t vote for that Obama — he’s a Democrat!” Says he gets annoyed that people look at the party and not the individual. Even though he considers himself liberal, he never votes based on party.

Terry expresses sympathy that the seniors didn’t get their social security cost of living increase. How did Terry vote on that?

Even though this guy considers himself liberal, he seems to be a Terry fan. “If I vote for you, the Democrats think I’m crazy…and I am.” This guy is cool.

7:31 – Another caller upset about the case-worker to call-center changes, urging Terry to follow up with the Governor. Apparently Nebraska’s system was based on Florida’s?

Caller says unemployment has always been double-digit in parts of Omaha. “One of the most effective programs that has ever existed in employment and training — ” dangit, couldn’t keep up on transcription. She was talking about a great program for getting people back to full employment and I couldn’t make out what she said. Something popular in the late ’70s?

7:35 – Wasn’t totally listening for a while, but I think this latest caller was saying something about opening American resorts to Haiti refugees. Not that this is the same thing, but I remember going down to Bay St. Louis in December of 2005, probably about three months after Katrina. I ended up getting the very last room in a motel two hours away from BSL, because every room between me and there was booked with folks who had lost their home. Not much of a point here.

Ok, I get it now — the caller was suggesting these hotel companies go open up resorts in Haiti to help bring business to the people. Terry says that won’t happen without government and law.

Caller asks why Republicans are against healthcare reform. Terry says they’re just opposed to THIS healthcare plan because it focuses on the government. Says the government will have control over everyday decisions. Good grief. He’s clearly counting on an ignorant listener base.

7:39 – Caller says “Obama said you can keep the healthcare plan you have if you want, but don’t stop other people from getting health insurance.” Terry says the bill was written by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. Terry says part of the bill dictates what is in all employer plans, so employers and employees won’t have what they have now — just what the government tells them. So Terry thinks you should be afraid that the government is going to set requirements that insurance offer basic care.

7:41 – Caller Steve says he’s blessed to be able to talk to him. Steve wants to talk about “government run healthcare.” I think he just said “Some of us are against the illegal acts of child-killing,” in reference to abortion. Caller is upset that citizens have to pay for “child-killing.” Terry has not corrected the caller, who goes on: “When the citizens have to pay for killing children, that’s wrong!” Nothing like exploiting people’s fears.

Now all of a sudden this guy is talking about public access and playing the accordion. Caller refers to channel 22 as “the minority channel.” Terry says “I don’t think 22 is just minorities. I have a show on channel 22.” Lee Terry is white?

“In 1980, when Cox came to Omaha, they promised us 14 public access stations. Now we have 3.” This guy has a point. I remember Mark Baldridge writing a Daily Nebraskan column years ago about how cable companies strike deals with cities making all these promises on public services and then never following through.

7:47 – Well that’s it. Good thing I have work to do — otherwise I might not have been able to put things off in order to listen to this.

8 Responses to Listening to a Lee Terry tele-town-hall

  1. adam says:

    You, sir….are a real American hero.

  2. Eric R says:

    Appreciate the blow by blow accounts. Thanks for taking the time to put that out there.

  3. nathan says:

    If Kennedy were alive, he certainly wouldn’t have been aligned with Teddy. JFK was a supporter of gun rights, supply side economics (the way it’s SUPPOSED to be practiced, cutting both taxes AND spending), and he was strong on the military. I don’t know what Terry means by “mainstream republican” as the GOP lost it’s way some time ago, but I’d say that Kennedy would be more likely to side with the Republicans than the Democrats.

    Terry did vote for HR3631 on Sept. 24 (406 to 18) to adjust Medicare payments. Whatever happened with that bill, I don’t know. The fact is (as I’m sure you are well aware of after listening to the call) most people who talk to Terry don’t know all of the facts. Lots of them don’t know any of the facts!

  4. Ryan says:

    Wow, great work on this. Thanks, Neal!

  5. adam says:

    re: JFK and the GOP…the one issue where he would side with the GOP is the accepted practice of cheating on your wife…ba-CHING!

  6. nathan says:

    Tell that to John Edwards. What differentiates the parties is to be a GOP adulterer you have to be a hypocrite about it.

  7. Bhanwarlal says:

    How is it that just anybody can psubilh a blog and get as popular as this? Its not like youve said anything extremely impressive more like youve painted a quite picture about an issue that you know nothing about! I dont want to sound mean, here. But do you really think that you can get away with adding some quite pictures and not really say anything?

    Neal replied:

    Hi Bhanwarlal,

    It’s actually really easy to get a blog these days! I pay a small fee each year to a hosting company, but there are a number of free sites that can host a blog for you. I’d just google “free blog hosting” and that should give you a really good start.

    As to how to get popoular, just keep posting! Don’t get discouraged if someone else’s blog is more popular than yours even if you know in your heart that yours is better. That’s just going to happen, and whether it bums you out or not, you’re definitely not going to overtake your inferiors’ traffic by being resentful. Posting frequently is key! Also commenting on other people’s blogs can help drive traffic back to yours.

    Now I too don’t want to sound mean, but you tossed around insults like “…an issue you know nothing about…” without actually offering any specifics or an opportunity to engage, which is kind of intellectually lazy. So actually, I think you did want to sound mean but just didn’t want to admit it!

    Feel free to start talking about what specifically I don’t know anything about, either in the comments here or at your brand new blog (go for it!) and we can chat.

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