Here in South Carolina, Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint are our senators. One can understand, therefore, why many consider Graham to be a moderate. Last night I received a Tele-Town Hall call from Graham. This nifty process allows callers to join a conference call where they can ask questions of their representatives.
I suspect that my number was selected not randomly but rather based on the fact that my father (with whom I share a phone) votes reliably republican. My suspicion was based on the unanimous adulation for all things conservative from the others on the call.
I wanted to share my situation of not being able to receive health insurance because of a pre-existing condition and to challenge his support of repealing health care reform. So I pressed zero to queue up to ask a question. As I waited, another caller asked about “Obamacare.” She said that although she is not prone to believe in conspiracies she had heard that her husband’s small business would lose its ability to receive a tax deduction for its cost of buying health insurance for its employees.
I was hoping that he would reassure this woman and challenge that rumor. Graham has a reputation for not always towing the party line. Earlier in the call I liked that he had not been baited by some residual “Drill Here, Drill Now” folks; instead he emphasized Boone Pickens‘ natural gas program to gain energy independence for America.
Boy, was I disappointed. He basically said that she was right and that she should believe everything bad she’s ever heard about this bill. He went on to throw another conspiracy theory on her bonfire: he claimed that the low price of the penalty against companies who don’t offer health care is designed to force everyone onto a public option.
He added that the bill was so long and complicated that it’s hard for anyone to know what’s in it. I suppose this was his cover for giving misleading information to his constituents. (I’m one of those who happen to think it is a senator’s job to understand what’s in a bill that s/he is voting on.) I don’t claim to be an expert on this bill, but all of my research suggests that in fact small businesses would receive a tax credit to help them afford health insurance.
Now, even if he wanted to maintain his support for total repeal of health care reform, he could have used the opportunity to tell this woman the truth but explain that there are other problems with this bill that makes him want to start all over. It would have been an opportunity to press his talking points about what’s wrong with this bill.
This interchange made me so angry, that I decided I was in no frame of mind to speak politely or even rationally, so I disconnected from the call. Instead, I sent him an email with my thoughts.