Rally Against Dems’ Health Plan

Brent Finnegan -- July 31st, 2009

Americans For Prosperity Virginia, the conservative PAC instrumental in the organization of the Tea Party protests, stopped in Harrisonburg today. But the purpose of this visit wasn’t taxes or tea. It was to oppose Obama’s health care reform proposal. I spoke with AFP organizer Ben Marchi and Suzanne Kate Obenshain.

Addressing the gathering of local conservatives standing in the drizzle, Marchi called Obama’s plan “the biggest government power grab in history.” He urged the crowd to call senators Warner and Webb and ask them to vote against the plan. Marchi said AFP has a petition with over 5,000 signatures they plan to present to the senators.

Suzanne Kate Obenshain quoted a FOX News poll stating that 91 percent of Americans already have health care, and 84 percent of those covered like what they have. Those poll results are at odds with others that indicate support for Obama’s plan (although the context of satisfaction polls may be off point anyway).

Obenshain also put down the so-called co-op plans that some “blue dog” Democrats have floated, insisting on nothing less than an unadulterated free-market model. “God bless Milton Friedman,” she added.

Marchi said the AFP bus is zig-zagging its way across the state, making four of five stops per day.

139 Responses to “Rally Against Dems’ Health Plan”

  1. zen says:

    megan, please, use sarcasm, braille, morse-code, smoke-signals, whatever, just please articulate the Republican position on fixing health care.

  2. megan says:

    zen, you yourself said the republicans don’t think there is a problem and therefore don’t have a solution. I can’t articulate a solution like that by any means. Well maybe sign language–using one finger. :)

    Lowell, I don’t have a solution. I just know there are problems.

    1. There is no good reason that we as a nation should be in such poor health to begin with.

    2. Costs are way out of line. A full day’s wages, or more, can easily be blown in one 15 minute visit to a doctor.

    3. Preventive care is preferable to emergency room stabilizations that don’t fix long term problems. It’s also more cost effective. Yet we end up paying for the expensive band aid and clogging up the hospital rather than treatments that actually work.

    I’m sure there’s more. That’s just what’s on the top of my head this morning. I don’t know how to fix it, but I think it’s going to take people taking responsibility for the condition of their bodies combined with affordable access to the right kind of care at the right time. I think the government should be looking at what makes health costs so high (is it law suits, inefficiency, people not paying?) and people need to take a look at their grocery carts. When it’s filled with marshmallow chocolate cereal, potato chips, fruit roll ups, soda, beer, over processed freezer meals, candy, pop tarts and cigarettes; you know health problems aren’t too far down the road.

  3. Lowell Fulk says:

    We agree on each point Megan.
    I’ve collected some useful links and posted them here for anyone interested in learning more. If you have found some useful and informative sites dealing with the issue, please share them with me to include.

  4. zen says:

    lol…touché, megan.

    I’m sure you know that it is cheaper to eat poorly, than it is to eat well. Then of course this leads to long-term health problems, which strikes the poor communities disproportionately…the same people that may lack good health care. A downward spiral that isn’t necessarily about bad choices. There is an element of education, but also as a nation it says a lot of about corporate power. The food industry dictates what kind of nutrition is realistically accessible and affordable for the poor. So, it’s much more complex than to just say it’s a personal responsibility. As well, many health problems are genetic.

  5. seth says:

    “…it is cheaper to eat poorly, than it is to eat well.”

    i’m not so sure about this. it’s certainly easier, but you can eat well and spend a lot less than you would on tv dinners, etc.

  6. seth says:

    but you’re right, it probably is evil corporate food that makes poor people fat

    …sorry joe

  7. zen says:

    Well, seth. Go out and see how many calories (energy providers) you can get from a value menu for $5, and then see how many fresh vegetables offer for that same $5.

  8. zen says:

    And seth, if you’d like to discuss the topic, then don’t misrepresent my words. I said the issue was complex. It’s not always a matter of simple food choice. The corporate entities that make their business in mass food production do not have nutrition as their priority, it’s economics.

  9. megan says:

    Yes, more calories come cheap. But they are empty and more than we need. I think we can eat cheap AND good. We just need to eat differently to do it. A bag of cereal may seem cheap, but it isn’t good for you and I bet you can make breakfast burritos for similar money, or a fruit smoothie.

    Anyone know what the average poor, unhealthy person/family spends on food in a week?

  10. seth says:

    sorry zen, didn’t mean to be unnecessarily contentious. i just get tired of the proclivity to blame corporate america for the poor decisions of individuals.

    in terms of how many calories in a value meal versus how many in a finacially equivalent amount of vegetables, it’s apples and oranges (i think people choose the value meal because it’s easy, not because it’s cheap).

    just in case you still think it’s a good comparison though, as a counterpoint i’d ask that you look at the price of a bag of rice and how many calories are contained therein.

    i spend much less when i’m cooking for myself than i do when i’m buying $5 a pop value meals (i could just about feed myself for a week on what i’d spend on 3 of those in a day).

  11. Nicholas Detweiler-Stoddard says:


    It is true that ultra-processed foods are much cheaper than healthier whole foods when you price them per calorie.

    Granted, a rice pilaf TV dinner is more expensive than cooking up your own from a bulk bag of rice, fresh onions and celery, but that expensive TV dinner actually gives you more calories per dollar than the homemade supper (not to mention all the unhealthy synthetic preservatives).

    Unfortunately, more cheap calories are not what the American diet needs. They are a primary reason our overall health is so atrocious.

    A soda pop is much higher in calories than a comparable volume of milk, but is ridiculously less expensive per calorie (and has no nutritional or health benefits). Potato chips are more expensive than a comparable amount of raw potatoes, but per calorie they calculate out as much more for your money!

    Yes, it is cheaper to eat poorly (don’t even get me started on school lunch programs).

  12. zen says:

    Anyone interested in coming to Staunton to go see Food Inc at the Visulite? Let’s have a group go and then go out for drinks to discuss.

  13. Bubby Hussein, Hillbilly Sheikh says:

    Where in the current working poor health care offerings is there any nutrition counseling, or treatment for mental conditions that lead to abusive eating? We now know that long work hours, lack of sleep, and night shiftwork bring stress that cause obesity. Isn’t that a cost that industry shifts to the public?

  14. megan says:

    You can make a heck of a meal for the cost of eating off the micky D’s dollar menue.

    I never spend $5 a person on a meal.

  15. seth says:

    i think this one has been posted before, but i love it.


  16. Nicholas Detweiler-Stoddard says:

    Corn sweetened and soybean fried cheap calories may be less expensive now, but the deferred health (both of our bodies and our rural communities) and environmental costs are coming back to bite us.

    Oh, and then there’s the hidden cost to the tax payer for the uber-subsidies that keep these commodity crops cheap while simultaneously impoverishing southern Mexican farmers and forcing more of them here to work in low wage jobs without health benefits that position them to be a burden on our ERs.

    Damn the American diet.

  17. Nicholas Detweiler-Stoddard says:

    The medical costs of obesity are reported to have jumped from $78.5 billion in 1998 to $147 billion in 2008. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601124&sid=aTy59DsnA3Wg

    Way back in the 1980’s then Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop warned us that over two-thirds of disease related deaths in the US were from disorders exacerbated by our poor diet.

  18. zen says:

    I believe there is an amendment within one of the health care bills that proposes a tax on soda and other sugary drinks. Not surprising, the soda industry is lobbying hard against it.

  19. seth says:

    i think that’s a really good idea, but i’d want to see them prohibit food stamps from being used on anything they’re taxing in that manner.

    one of my main problems w/ the cigarette taxes is that they’re disproportionately paid by lower income folks. i don’t think we should be as comfortable ignoring that as we seem to be.

  20. Josh says:

    In “Tax promise could cost Obama his job (CNN),” John Feehery writes:

    “The American people are also skeptical about paying higher taxes for a new health care plan. Indeed, according to a new Rasmussen poll, to the question `Are you willing to pay higher taxes so that all Americans can be provided with health insurance?’ 60 percent of the American people said thanks, but no thanks.”


    Supposedly about 50 million Americans are uninsured and 250 million Americans have health insurance.

    How do you sell a costly health care plan to everyone? Especially if one merely sees a tax increase and not an improvement in their own situation.

  21. megan says:

    I like cigarette taxes. If you don’t want to pay them, stop smoking. And besides if you are smoking you are costing us all more money.

    Tax the beegeebers out of cigarettes, soft drinks, fast food, sugar junk ect and use that to pay for health care reform.

    There, Lowell, there’s a solution for you.

  22. zen says:

    I’m not sure of the idea of taxing the sugary drinks because it also disproportionately impacts lower incomes as well. However, it seems that the only way to influence social progress and awareness is through a form of economic incentive or consequence.
    Nicholas is correct on many points, and thank you to him for pointing out some of the details of industrial food policy. The federal government is subsidizing unhealthy foods, which is absolutely counter to the goals of a healthy society and of any health care plan.

  23. zen says:

    The “concerned citizens” that make up the Americans Against Food Taxes claim to be made up of “responsible individuals” and “financially strapped families.” But their own website is a who’s who of corporate cola power players.

  24. Renee says:

    megan, I agree with your 3 points and I think many of us could agree that more preventive care is needed to reduce the need for heart procedures, diabetic care, etc.

    I wanted to explore a little more depth on why poor families may have a disproportionately bad diet (though there are plenty of fat middle-class and rich people, too). Some thoughts:

    -In many urban areas, there are plenty of convenience stores and fast food joints, but few real grocery stores with nice fruits & veggies that are affordable. Have you ever been to a ‘grocery mart’ in a big city? Pretty much a glorified 7-11. And pricey.

    -Poor people have to make their food purchases ‘stretch’, and want to prevent throwing it away, so a bulk pack of cheap boxes of processed cheese macaroni is often more attractive than the equivalent amount of fresh fruit that may not last long bought in bulk

    -There is lots of very cheap food that’s not good for you. Think ramen noodles.

    -When people are depressed and don’t have much money for fun outings, they go for cheap thrills to entertain themselves and their kids, like dinner out at McDonald’s. It may cost more per meal, but it’s cheaper than a vacation, and it’s well known fatty foods have an ‘upper’ psychological effect.

    -Lack of education + bad habits. A lot of people get hooked on junk food because it’s ‘easy’ (especially in homes with single moms or absent parents where there’s no one to teach proper cooking) and they may not have learned how bad it really is. Then, they pass this love of easy junky meals down to their kids. I’ve known people that aren’t poor, but eat like they are because those are the foods they grew up eating.

    I saw something on the news the other day about how many costly and difficult kidney transplants are now needed because of ailments related to preventable obesity. I say our country needs a massive widespread education (this recession should be the perfect environment for it) on how to eat healthy on the cheap.

    Blast the airwaves and schools with recipes for easy-to-make fun meals that cost less than a couple dollars per person and don’t take much skill to create. Get to the mothers and help them understand how much they could help their children (and themselves) by getting their family on the right track health-wise.

    The health care system is way too expensive, and a way to majorly cut costs is to reduce our need for it.

    Sorry for the rambling post!

  25. Renee says:

    Example cheap, easy & healthy meal:

    -$6 pre-cooked rotisserie chicken
    -$2 worth of corn on the cob (the corn from the farmer’s market this week was awesome!)
    -$2 worth of potatoes
    -a little butter and salt for the corn & potatoes

    Around 10 bucks, and that can easily feed a family of 4 or 5 and be prepared by a kid in just a few minutes. If you have more time and don’t need pre-prepared quick foods, you can do even better.

    Someone should create an awesome fun magazine for kids with cheap healthy kid-friendly recipes, fun active games that don’t require any equipment, and tips for healthy living and send it to every household with children in America. That would be more effective than the same money spent on hospital bills later.

  26. megan says:

    I think home ec should have a major place in the school system and do more than teach us how to set a table and make cookies for a Christmas party. It should teach meal planning, shopping, and cooking healthy meals; how to cook ahead and freeze meals for quick dinners; how to budget money; organizing, sale shopping, wardrobe stretching; how to distinguish health food from junk food; how to have a cheap thrill and still be healthy(picnic at the park, hike…) and how to weigh cost against enjoyment for luxuries.

    And it should be more than an elective you take one year in middle school.

    I absolutely think that a family can eat healthy and fast (with a little planning ahead) for the same amount that they would spend to eat junk.

    Very good point about lack of real food stores in urban areas. That could be a real problem for those that don’t own a car.

  27. Bubby Hussein, Hillbilly Sheikh says:

    Big Health Insurers are losing this thing – that’s why the bus came to Court Square, and they have whistled out the tea party Obama Haters.

    All Respondents:
    President Obama 55% Republicans 26%
    Obama 81% Republicans 10%
    Obama 27% Republicans 52%
    Obama 48% Republicans 26%

    Now 7/13/2009 6/2009
    Favor 66% 64% 72%
    Oppose 27% 29% 20%

    Now 6/2009 2/2007 1/2006 7/2000 8/1996
    Yes 55% 64% 64% 62% 62% 56%
    No 38% 30% 27% 31% 29% 38%

  28. megan says:

    Heh, you can get a whole chicken for $4 and easily roast it yourself (it’s even better). We often do this and get three meals out of it.

    1 roast chicken, potatoes, veggie
    2 chicken quesidillas, veggie sticks
    3 simmer the carcass and have the best chicken soup you have ever tasted, homemade bread

    My kids can make all three without my help. And I bet all three meals can be made for less than it would cost us to eat one meal of fast food.

  29. David Miller says:

    You all make valid points and interesting social commentary on our fat nation buttttttttttttttt The friggin point is that the health care system that includes “right sizing” customers, pre-existing condition legalize’ and profit from patients is immoral and needs to be rescinded in one fell swoop, ie: Single Payer. The trick here is that you either believe that health care reform is necessary and demand that all politicians partake in the reform process or vote out the Republicans who choose to play politics with this incredibly pertinent problem. Meanwhile we have these corporate minions showing up (invited by inside agitators, make no mistake that everyone who showed up and is arguing against reform is being led blindly on by the huge profit taking corporations while their neighbors go bankrupt) in our town telling us why we don’t need reform.

  30. Emmy says:

    While I agree that home ec should be a class taught more than once as an elective, home ec has changed A LOT since you were in school and some do those things that you mentioned. My best friends mother is a home ec teacher and she’s responsible for getting the Baby Think It Over dolls into the schools. Home Ec has changed.

    Oh and I agree with everything David just said.

  31. Republitarian says:

    How stupid are some folks?

    Some people are saying that our health care system needs to be fixed…..

    And they are dumb enough to believe that an entity which has 50 trillion dollars of unfunded responsibilities, 11 trillion in debt, and is on pace for 1.5 trillion deficit this year is going to pay for their health care for the rest of their lives…..

    There are some real gullible people…..mostly liberals, of course.

  32. Renee says:

    I don’t know anyone that supports the current health reform plans that expects the government “to pay for their health care for the rest of their life”. That’s a pretty ridiculous characterization.

    I expect the government to do its part in reigning in an out-of-control system and protecting its citizens from predatory for-profit companies that kick people while they’re down, and if possible, offer a viable public-run alternative.

    Don’t be unfair, Republitarian.

  33. JGFitzgerald says:

    “Health care for life” is one of several nonexistent things that the teabaggers and other angry astroturf mobs argue against. It makes you wonder if they don’t know what’s being proposed, or if they can’t find an honest way to protest against the real legislation. Ignorant or dishonest? Quite a choice. Not that they’re mutually exclusive.

  34. David Miller says:


    Your ability to avoid actual debate about the real issue amazes me, continually. Which parts of the currently proposed legislation do you think are not wise?

  35. Josh says:

    Interesting opinion in today’s Wall Street Journal:

    John Mackey: The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare – WSJ.com

  36. Renee says:

    Saw this on the news and it reminded me of our discussion here:

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