It is hard to avoid news about protests at town hall meetings where liberal politicians are advocating the Obamacare health care proposals.
These politicians, angry that they can't control the atmosphere of these events, have been using the media to fire back with charges that the protesters lack common decency, are not engaging in constructive debate and should not be disruptive. Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer went so far as to say that protesters were behaving in an un-American way because they are "drowning out opposing views." Essentially, these politicians are telling the protesters that they are being bad unless they remain quiet and let politicians dictate the message for the day.
When did town hall meetings become something that requires everyone in attendance to be in agreement?
Clearly, these politicians are more concerned with the image of a carefully planned town hall photo op than the actual concept of a real town hall meeting.
When I look at these news reports, I see something entirely different from what these out-of-touch politicians see. I don't see disruptive protesters who have no object other than to interrupt so-called debates. I see people who are tired of being ignored by those who are supposed to represent them. These town hall protests aren't meaningless publicity stunts masterminded by obstructionists. They are real examples of broad-based public opposition to a health care plan that threatens to bankrupt our nation and ruin the health care system we have.
Our nation simply cannot afford to support a large government-run health care program. The one we currently have, Medicare, is already costing us too much and is plagued by too many problems.
Obamacare, which would operate similarly, is sure to cost even more. According to Office of Management and Budget numbers, our current budget deficit is $1.84 trillion with a projected deficit of over $1 trillion next year, and our publicly held national debt is projected to be $16 trillion within 10 years, not even counting the intragovernmental debt that makes up a substantial portion of our overall national debt.
At its current level of over $11.7 trillion, the national debt is equivalent to over $37,000 for every man, woman, and child in this nation. This is a staggering number, more than many people make in a year. Despite this, Congress will not stop spending.
Missourians have an important role to play in the health care debate. It is no secret that U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill has the president's ear. We have a duty to stop this senseless health care legislation and fight for real reform by letting her know that we will not stand for such irresponsible reform.
Why not focus on making the existing system better by letting doctors and other health care professionals, not politicians, tell us what works?
The protesters who have been attending these town meetings are doing the right thing -- urging fiscal responsibility and caution -- at a time when a majority of our legislators seem to have lost their way.
Tom Shupe is assistant secretary of the Adam Smith Foundation in Jefferson City, Mo.