MacIver News Service
[Chippewa Falls, Wisc…] Not so fast.
One of the most powerful members of the Democratic House Majority says he expects the debate over the health care reform bills in Washington to go on for at least another four months.
“I don’t expect to see this bill actually concluded until December,” said Congressman Dave Obey (D-Wisconsin).
Obey made his comments during an interview with the MacIver Institute, a Wisconsin-focused free market think tank.
Obey has been criticized for not holding town hall meetings during the August recess. During the interview with MacIver, the influential chairman of the House Appropriation Committee insists he has held several public forums and that, because of the expected delay on health care reform in Washington, there will be time to hold more.
On Tuesday, his office announced that while not appearing in public to answer questions, the Congressman will conduct a telephone conference call with selected district residents next Monday, August 31st.
However, the Congressman is drawing the line at participating in public events held by third party groups like American’s for Prosperity, which has scheduled three forums throughout Wisconsin on Wednesday and Thursday, including one in Obey’s district.
“What I am not going to do is to participate in phony public sessions,” said Obey. “I am not going to wind up participating in anything that is nothing but a shill for the insurance industry.”
MacIver’s President, Brett Healy, finds the Congressman’s statement ironic.
“Congressman Obey is willing to face the constituents of his choosing over the phone, but he calls in-person meetings with real people phony because an outside organization wants to hear from him and his constituents, in public, on this pressing issue,” said Healy. “Of course the Congressman is free to do what he wants and to listen, or refuse to listen to whomever he decides, but the ‘phony’ comment is a bit ironic considering his insistence on holding a town hall over the phone.”
The MacIver Institute is attending several health care town halls this week, including those sponsored by Congressman Ron Kind (D-Wisconsin), Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and Americans for Prosperity.
“While discouraging to hear that Congressman Obey will not be holding any in-person health care town halls this recess, it’s encouraging to hear he believes the wholesale upheaval of America’s health care and health care financing system is no longer on the fast track,” said Healy. “It sounds like there will be more opportunities for the public to have input on what’s happening in Washington in the months ahead.”