OSHKOSH - Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold got an earful at his town hallmeeting in Winnebago County on Thursday.
"The majority of senior people feel that they are gettingscrewed pardon my French," Pat Braasch of Oshkosh said during theone-and-a-half hour session.
While all topics were on the table, healthcare dominated thediscussion. Some expressed concerns about cuts to Medicare. Othersasked why a plan that's expected to extend coverage to more than 30million of the uninsured, would be negotiated behind closeddoors.
"If it is a good bill, bring it out, let the people see it,"Braasch said.
C-SPAN has asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate MajorityLeader Harry Reid to cover the meetings.
"Well they're right, there's just no reason not to have thosesessions out in the open," Feingold said. "It's a perfectlyappropriate request."
Feingold says the bill isn't perfect, but he believes it willreduce the deficit, saving $132 billion over ten years.
"The only way this thing is going to be deficit neutral is totax us more," a session attendee said. "Take money out of mypaycheck and put it in somebody else's hand."
"It's important to have a system where everyone can get healthinsurance and where people aren't forced out if they get sick,"Kevin McGee of Oshkosh said.
But, that wasn't the opinion of the majority at the session.Most voiced strong opposition to health care reform and pepperedFeingold with questions.
"Would you agree the State of Wisconsin residents don't wantthis bill?" Rob Rathsack asked.
"Not based on the town meetings, I know the number," Feingoldcountered. "I was in every county, it was almost 50-50 in thestate."
But, it wasn't in Oshkosh.
Among the key differences between the House and Senate plans ishow to pay for them. The Senate bill would tax high-end insuranceplans, while the House wants to raise taxes for higher incomeworkers. Feingold says he does not support the insurance tax.
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