Lawmakers faces angry crowds on health care
By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press Writer
– 13 mins ago
LEBANON, Pa. – Jeers and taunts drowned out Democrats calling for a health care overhaul at town halls Tuesday, and one lawmaker said a swastika was spray-painted at his office as debate turned to noisy confrontation over President Barack Obama's plan. The president himself was treated more respectfully.
At a crowded community college in Pennsylvania, Republican-turned-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter heard from speaker after speaker who accused him of trampling on their constitutional rights, adding to the federal deficit or allowing government bureaucrats to take over health care.
"You'll be gone, by God the bureaucrats will still be here," said one man.
"My children and grandchildren are going to pay for this," said another.
"One day God will stand before you and judge you!" shouted a man before security guards approached and he left the room.
One woman tried to make it personal for Specter, alleging that the Democrats' plan would not provide care to a man in his 70s with cancer, like Specter had.
"You're here because of the plan we have now," she said.
Specter, 79, who has battled cancer twice since 2005, showed some heat at that.
"Well, you're just not right," he said. He called her claim a "vicious, malicious" rumor.
In Georgia, Democratic Rep. David Scott's staff arrived at his Smyrna, Ga., office outside Atlanta on Tuesday morning to find a large, black swastika spray-painted on a sign out front bearing his name. The vandalism occurred roughly a week after Scott was involved in a contentious argument over health care at a community meeting.
Scott, who is black, said he also has received mail in recent days that used N-word references to him and that characterized Obama as a Marxist.
"We have got to make sure that the symbol of the swastika does not win, that the racial hatred that's bubbling up does not win this debate," Scott said in a telephone interview. "That's what is bubbling up with all of this. There's so much hatred out there for President Obama."
In Hillsboro, Mo., a frustrated Sen. Claire McCaskill admonished a rowdy crowd of some 1,500 at a town hall where she was peppered with questions about health care for veterans, seniors and illegal immigrants and provisions funding abortions. One man was arrested after allegedly ripping a sign from a woman that showed a picture of Rosa Parks sitting on a bus and read, "First Lady of Civil Rights."
"I don't understand this rudeness," McCaskill told the crowd at one point. "I honestly don't get it."
Someone shouted out that they didn't trust McCaskill.
"Beg your pardon ... you don't trust me?" McCaskill said. "I don't know what else I can do."
One participant, Mary Ann Fieser of Hillsboro, said elected officials owe it to citizens to allow them a forum for showing their displeasure with the health care plan.
"If they don't let us vent our frustrations out, they will have a revolution," she said.
Specter said that in a long life in politics he hadn't seen anything like what he witnessed Tuesday and at a town hall last weekend that turned even uglier.
"There is more anger in America today than at any time I can remember," Specter said.
Associated Press writers Ben Evans in Washington and Sheila Ellis in Hillsboro, Mo., contributed to this report.
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