David Vitter, Senator from Louisiana, spoke at a town hall meeting on health care at Louisiana College in Pineville on Saturday. After the prayer, a minister referred to Vitter as doing God’s work as Vitter welcomed those called “an angry mob.”
Louisiana College is a Baptist-run college in North Louisiana. The town hall meetingwas held in what is normally the place of worship on the campus, as folks found Bible hymnals in the shelving in front of each pew.
People expressed their anger and frustration at the meeting, chaired by Vitter who spoke of his concerns before introducing other speakers on the podium. Vitter described the Obama administration’s health care program as likely ending up to be entirely government-run and underlined the worries and fears this would bring, including rationing of health insurance, elimination of coverage and the reduction of health benefits to seniors. He said the health program in the United States was, for the most part, working well and only needed minor adjustments since many of the people without coverage were immigrants or those who didn’t want health coverage anyway.
After Vitter spoke, he introduced three other speakers who reinforced Vitter’s positions. One was an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist, another from the Pelican Advisory Group, and an employer who owns a series of supermarkets with a number of employees for whom he provides health care coverage. All of them underlined Vitter’s message that the proposed health care program in Washington was wrong, leading to socialism and going to take away people’s rights to have their choice of doctors and their privacy in relationship to medical care. They agreed that Canada’s system required people to visit the United States because they couldn’t get important medical care.
Questions from the audience were pre-selected by Vitter and his staff as they were brought to the podium. No one was allowed to spontaneously address the podium. There were no questions read that presented anything other than Vitter’s view and those who spoke with him. Nor was there time allowed for anyone to speak after comment cards with questions had been addressed, all of whom were in support of Vitter’s position. Vitter was said to have no time to answer questions from the press. Those who had written the questions were then allowed to speak from the floor of the auditorium and elaborate on their concerns.
Members of the audience fell in line with what has randomly been shown at town hall meetings where Republican Congressmen have discussed the Obama administration health care program, including people holding signs intimating Obama and the administration, as well as Democrats, to be communist or socialist in orientation.
One audience member pointed out that Nancy Pelosi had been concerned about the angry mobs who had shown up to vilify the President and the health care message. Vitters message in response to this was: bring them on, with the crowd roaring their satisfaction with the message. The answer to a question posed by another member of the appreciative audience about Louisiana potentially withdrawing from federal involvement in the health care program, were it to be passed, was Vitter’s agreement that the 10th amendment could be called into play were that to happen.
Vitter is presently among the top 20 members of Congress whose re-election campaign support is coming from members of the insurance company lobby. In addition, Sourcewatch observes that Vitter’s top campaign supporter is Jones Wallker, a foremost defense legal firm with insurance companies figuring prominently among the clientele. Would this indicate potential bias in Vitter’s position on health care?
The Senator from Louisiana is also among the most conservative Republicans in Congress, voting with Republicans more than 92% of the time. He is against abortion under all circumstances, stem cell research and providing education funding for pregnancy prevention and sex education. He believes in discontinuing all affirmative action programs. He is rated by major civil rights organizations as having an anti-civil rights record. He is against gay marriage and adoption of children by gays. Vitter also believes in broadening the use of the death penalty and reducing restrictions on guns. He has voted no on reducing CO2 emissions and is against tax incentives for energy conservation and development of alternative sources of energy. He voted no on giving Washington D.C. a seat in Congress. He is considered to have an anti-public health voting record. His policy positions are further discussed here.
The Pelican Institute is described as a scholarly organization headed up by an attorney named Kevin Kane. It is a conservative think tank touted by Republicans and quoted by the Wall Street Journal and the American Spectator, so it has its own political orientation. Despite stating its policies as objective, Kane was in support of the tea parties and other ventures against policies put out by Democrats. He is a frequent speaker at conservative forums in support of conservative ideas.
David Vitter's name was reported to be on a high profile list of clients of a Washington Madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, who committed suicide rather than being sent to prison for running a prostitution ring. Vitter has opposed most of Obama’s proposals before and after the President took office. He is running for re-election to the Senate in 2010. The demographics of his audience, in Pineville in August and in Natchitoches, Louisiana earlier this year, continue to be white, middle-aged and conservative who express frustration with the government and have an orientation to states rights, a similar demographic of those who voted in North Louisiana for David Duke, the former leader of the Ku Klux Klan.