Teri Buhl, a financial journalist from lower Fairfield County has written for Trader Monthly, Housingwire, The New York Post and DealBreaker. With those credentials (plus having attended Lawrenceville Prep with Jim) she was able to break past the barriers at last night’s sold-out Himes performance and observe. Herewith, her report:
Is Himes in touch with his Greenwich voters on Health Care Reform
By Teri Buhl
Wall Street traders and their wives showed up fully charged to debate health care reform last night in Greenwich. Congressman Jim Himes(CT-4 D) held his first town hall meeting on health care and ran smack into a crowd of nay sayers to Obama’s health care plan. From my seat on the right side of the room (with the rest of the press) the majority of the crowd was against government intervention in health care. Concern over death panels, how much will it cost them, to lack of availability to see the best physicians ran rampant from residents called upon to ask questions.
Greenwich police say they opened the doors at ten till 6pm and the room was filled in less than 20 minutes, leaving constituents who showed up near the meeting’s start time of 6:30 turned away by two armed cops. Police say around 200 people gathered outside while the Himes debate was underway and began their own citizen’s debate on the issue. The passionate crowed spoke in turn on the town hall steps railing opinions against the public option while the police kept a firm had on some who got in each other’s face- even strong arming one plain clothes man who had earlier showed a NYPD card to get in but was refused entrance.
Inside the debate was almost as heated.
Jacqueline Walsh who attended with her husband Jerry Walsh, a Wall Street prop trader had done her homework and rattled Himes a bit when she went face to face with him questioning him about death panels. Walsh cheered and jeered throughout the event when fellow citizens detailed researched views on why the public option wouldn’t work and the crowd cheered ‘No more government, the free market can do it better’. She was much more the majority then the minority throughout the room.
When the Walsh’s were asked if Himes was going to represent their views on health care or those of their friends in Greenwich when he returned to congress they said, “Himes claims to be a free market guy, that’s how he made his money, but I don’t think he represents the majority of Greenwich’s view on this issue.” Before Himes made his run for Congress he was a Goldman Sachs banker.
Jacqueline added, “He side stepped a lot of the questions tonight and seemed to call on some he knew would give praise to his cause.”
Jacqueline friend and fellow Greenwich resident, Cheryl Resnick, who attended with her husband Jeff a trader at an international bank, had her hand up at every chance but was unfortunately ignored by the moderator.
Cheryl said, “We got babysitters for this, showed up early to get in and had some important questions but were shut out.” Cheryl’s questions posted at the end of the story have been sent to Himes and his team said to expect a response.
At the end of the meeting Cheryl, a blond blue-eyed republican, added, “You know I noticed all the people who talked against the public option really did their homework. They have real fears for a reason. “ She also added that even if Himes went gung ho against the public option it wouldn’t make a difference because Obama would just buy the votes to get his Health Care bill done – kind of puts Himes in a tough spot.
Himes did comment half way through the debate about his view re health care lobbying and fund raising corruption. “I simply want to remind you that when offered a pay raise this year I didn’t take it because I saw so many of you not getting them, “ says Himes and then noted “ In this country your ability to raise money is often how we elect congressman – this is a problem.”
When Himes was asked what would he do if congress was forced to the take the public option he responded, “Well first of all no one is going to be forced to TAKE the public option. But, I believe congressman should not benefit any differently than our citizens.” To give Himes credit he listened, looked each person in the eye and didn’t interrupt even when some boldly called him out on not reading legislation he voted on like the 1,200 page Waxman-Markey clean energy bill.
After an hour and half of listening and trying to answer his constituents health care concerns, Himes stepped up to the plate and took another 15 minutes to address the frustrated mob of at least 50 residents remaining outside. Although we found it odd he needed 8 local cops to escort him outside and talk to them.
Questions mounted by attendees walking out of the event regarding why team Himes choose a room that only fits 200 people if they wanted to truly hear all voters voice. Over 400 people tried to get in and that doesn’t even count the ones who walked away when they saw the mob.
When WGCH radio host Tony Savino, who moderated the event, was asked who picked this venue he said, “I thought it was going to be at the Greenwich Hyatt. I don’t know who changed it.”
Liz Kerr, Himes DC spokesman responded, “We never secured the Hyatt.” She didn’t answer why a bigger forum to house more residents wasn’t chosen – like the Greenwich High School? If you’re game to go face to face with Himes again you find him tomorrow night at the Norwalk High School starting at 6:30. Although I doubt many Greenwichites want to make the trek over there.
Here’s a link to Himes’ press girl asking outside mob if they want info on the Norwalk event – they all yell no – it’s classic.http://www.clipsyndicate.com/video/play/1079334/himes_holds_town_hall_on_health_care
Here is the question posed to Rep. Himes, which he has promised to answer. When (if) he does, we’ll post it here. [Ed]
Cheryl Resnick question for Congressman Himes:
When Massachusetts implemented universal health care Cheryl had a friend who found it impossible to find a good doctor after her regular doctor retired. As a result they had to opt out for a private option paying over $5,000 more so they could get a doctor that look fewer patients and was available when they needed him.
Cheryl asks: If the administration is saying an additional 47 million people will be added to the public option, how will they responsibly handle the inflow of new patients – so what happened in Mass doesn’t happen here. How will the public option participants know they can still get their good doctors if the public option pays the doctor less? Do we have enough quality medical talent to handle an influx of 47 million new patients to the system?