Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.
Monday, Senator Russ Feingold held a Listening Session at WCTC in Pewaukee. The lecture hall was packed by the time I got there, standing in the hall room only! I asked the security guard how many people the room held. He replied, about 350, plus the people standing at the sides and seated in extra chairs. There were maybe 30 more outside in the hallway. The guesstimate was over 400.
At first some thought the room was packed with Obama supporters, but as the questions were asked, it became clear from the response that most people were against ObamaCare. Just how many would be affirmed later.
It was rather difficult to hear out in the hallway as Feingold's mike wasn't as loud as the attendees' microphone. I wrote down the questions as best I could and the key words or essence of the response from the Senator. Words I am not sure of are in brackets. My questions and answers are not direct quotes but will at least give you a flavor of the meeting. Topics of questions will be in bold, so you can easily skip to the ones you are interested in or skip to the conclusion at the bottom. My favorite 3 questions are in red. Feingold did not always give a response to the question or statement.
Listening Q: Why aren't you and your colleagues listening to [us?]
We don't want this & resume Q: The majority of people don't want this but it's being shoved down our throats...without transparency, you and Obama promised transparency. We are fed up and you better get your resume ready! (See video clip below)
A: Feingold said something like I vote according to what I hear.
He then said something about how You've got transparency.
Again, BIG negative response from crowd.
Stimulus jobs Q: ...about stimulus jobs. Private jobs pay for themselves; government jobs cost us money. I'm not going to hire additional people...
Next was the astute mystery woman in the purple beret that Fox News was trying to find for a further interview. (I thought her beret was royal blue.) Fox's producer told me they were running the clip of her question all day.*
Her Constitutionality Q: You took an oath to support the Constitution...the Senate bill mandates coverage...Under what part of the Constitution [does it say] to purchase [health] insurance, and don't say the Commerce Clause...
A: Feingold hedged but finally said something like, I have to think it's probably Constitutional.
Craig Dedo also asked a question on the Constitution. He is interviewed on the Fox News video clip.
Not representing Wisconsin Q: Woman who owned 3 companies, income cut to 25% of their income. I don't think you are representing Wisconsin. Look at this session! I expected 25 people!
A: I find this session very useful.
Washington out of touch Q: I don't think Washington knows at all. She then cites the AP Stimulus story on how Stimulus didn't help unemployment. Health care issue is a disaster. Billions of dollars for 30 million people to get insurance. Cap and Trade will not work. Health Care insurance will not work! I am totally ashamed of our senators in Congress. PLEASE be a bigger leader and respect each other and us! Don't be a lemming and follow off the cliff! (Part of her question is on video clip below.)
Cadillac plan Q: Man says he has a Cadillac plan and says, keep up the good work.
Scientology Q: Woman rambles reading a list of meeting dates and something about the Church of Scientology and a man with x-ray vision. Maybe she hoped he could get a job as part of the airport security team? ;-)
What people want Q: Man asks that Feingold follow the wishes of the people.
Cap and Trade Q: Man mentions that small businesses can't afford Cap and Trade. Joy Global, Rockwell, etc. can't afford it. I'd like your pledge to oppose Cap and Trade!
Free market/less government Q: Woman states, I believe in the free market. We're one of the highest tax states. We need less government not more government.
Senior/Medicare concerns Q: Man says, This health bill says you will take huge amounts out of Medicare. What are senior citizens going to do for doctors? This bill will hang us out to dry.
A: Feingold assures, I hope every senior knows this will close the doughnut hole in Medicare.
Lots of groaning from audience.
Feingold continues, We won't get what Ben Nelson gets, but we get some...
Trojan horse Q: Man says, This health care plan is a sham. You are for public option. This is a Trojan Horse.
(I'm not sure if this was same man) The 2nd statement off your website about intelligence...use all resources...yet you called for Bush's censor. You are out of touch! I urge you to take the path of Dodd and Dorgan and RETIRE.
A: Feingold quips back, I think the [??? best] way to get reelected is to vote against this bill,
BIG APPLAUSE, BUT I'm not going to do it for political reasons.
Medical fraud, abuse, corruption Q: Woman states she watched a video on fraud, abuse, and corruption. We could save billions on just cutting fraud. I don't see anything in the health care bill to eliminate fraud. Stop paying the crooks!
Energy Q: Man: We are only looking at solar and wind...
Anti-trust law Q: Woman asks, Anti-Trust laws, do they apply to health insurance companies?
50/50 split Q: YouTube video clip Man asks the question I wanted to ask about Feingold saying that 50% were for and 50% attendees were against government healthcare at his listening sessions. Feingold muttered something about that statistic being from last year. BIG GROANS
Q: How many people are for the health care as proposed? Man counts twice and gets 10 raised hands. (I did too, 10 our of 400 = 97.5%) He says, ok, a dozen. ...and I assume everyone else is against it, is that correct? APPLAUSE
He goes on to talk about Feingold's reelection, If you aren't going to be responsible to the people, you know what the next step is?...
A: Feingold says, I've been doing these for many years...90% of people in Wisconsin want health care reform...BIG GROANS
Don't marginalize this anger Q: Voters believe in 2 people, their doctor and... You can't marginalize this anger. There are so many unintended consequences with our size of government--it's too BIG. We should get back to [what's important.] All elected give up their health care and start paying for their own. We need to focus on how our government is making our country less safe.
Trust Q: Man says we have no reason to trust you.
A: Feingold says it was all on C-Span when senate was in session.
Imperfect bill Q: Woman, At what point will you not vote for these bills? Why did you vote for the Senate version if there are 100's of things wrong?
A: Feingold makes excuses, If you fill the doughnut hole, that's a good thing. You never get a perfect bill.
Costs always higher Q: Name me one program that has not exceeded costs...BIG APPLAUSE
A: Feingold offers this as an answer: No one has called for the repeal of Federal programs, so that must mean they like it. (GROAN)
Conclusion: Well, that took a little more than an hour. There were a few interruptions and I missed writing down the question, but I got most of them.
One particularly interesting one was that Feingold claimed the Senate bill "would require people in Congress to have the same kind of insurance as the rest of us. He said he wouldn't vote for the bill if it didn't and he got booed hard. No one believed him," from ResistNet.com
I heard him insist that the Senate version required them to have the same coverage as us, but this was a new one on me. Someone was talking to me at the time, so I can only refer you to ResistNet for particulars.
I would agree that although the crowd was very upset and angry, they were pretty polite. On a very small front, the TMJ4 report said there were less than 20 in favor of the health care bill present in Pewaukee. Interesting, since it was pretty clear that only 10, count 'em, 10, raised their hands.
I can't help but think if just 1 of the 60 senators who voted for the Senate version would now state they are not supporting the final version, that others would bail too. At this point, all I can do is pray that happens and call the senators again! Senator Russ Feingold: Milwaukee (414) 276-7282, Washington D.C. 202) 224-5323.
More reading/viewing: Feingold Feels Health Care Heat TMJ4
TMJ4 Video clip from Listening Session
Report on Feingold's "Non-listening" session from today in Pewaukee-claims over 50% of WI WANTS Obamacare
*Fox News: Gretta On the Record video of WCTC Town Hall I did find this link online. It shows the woman in the beret asking a question, but it is not on the Constitution. Craig Dedo did ask about constitutionality too.