Rally fills Washington parking lot|Group opposes health care plans

Published 11:24 am Sunday, August 9, 2009

Daily News Correspondent

A large, orderly crowd filled a Washington waterfront parking lot Saturday for a rally organized in part by the conservative group Americans for Prosperity.
Some sign-waving attendees gathered near a tour bus emblazoned with the words, “Patients first,” while others set up lawn chairs and waved American flags.
The rally was kicked off by a raspy-voiced Dallas Woodhouse, state director of Americans for Prosperity, which motored the bus to town.
“The reality is that the only way government can cut health care costs is to deny critical treatments to people,” Woodhouse said.
Woodhouse urged those present to take specific action, pointing them to a petition and lists of federal lawmakers’ office phone numbers.
He also took aim at President Barack Obama.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the reality is President Obama is losing this debate, and he is losing this debate because of people like you,” Woodhouse said.
The tour bus was headed to Wilson later in the day as part of an ongoing, statewide campaign, Woodhouse indicated.
According to the Web site Sourcewatch.org, Americans for Prosperity was “one of the lead organizations” in the recent anti-tax “tea parties.”
Americans for Prosperity says it receives funding from individuals and corporations “which share its vision,” Sourcewatch relates.
Sourcewatch says the group is the third-largest recipient of funding from the Koch Family Foundation, which is funded by Koch Industries.
Koch Industries is listed by Forbes as the largest privately owned energy company in the U.S., says Sourcewatch.
Sourcewatch’s Web site says its group does not accept grants from corporations, labor unions or government. The Web site features laudatory comments from journalists Bill Moyers and Molly Ivins, among others.
Dover residents Cynthia and Billy Stallings attended Saturday’s event with homemade signs, one of which read, “We are the mob.”
The couple traveled to a similar event in New Bern on Friday, she said.
“We’re not paid by any corporation to be here,” he said.
Cynthia Stallings said she is familiar with medical issues because she works in the pharmacy at the Naval Hospital on board Camp Lejeune. She said she doesn’t want the government to take over health care.
“We want our choice,” she said.
Also among the spectators was Beaufort County Commissioner Al Klemm, a Republican. Klemm said he helped rally organizers obtain a permit from the city of Washington.
“I think why there’s people out here, such big crowds, is they’re scared,” Klemm said. “The president is being disingenuous and the Congress is being disingenuous. You could say the Democrat-led Congress is being disingenuous.”
Also on hand was Larry Britt, chairman of the Beaufort County Republican Party.
Britt responded to reports that some demonstrators had disrupted public meetings on health care reform. On Thursday the Tampa (Fla.) Tribune reported that a town hall session was shut down by police because of rowdy demonstrations that led to physical confrontations.
The St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times reported that a number of the protesters had been inspired by conservative activist organizations and local GOP e-mails.
Britt said some protests have gotten out of hand because people are angry at politicians who are not telling the truth about health care.
“Some people need to get in the real world,” he said.
He added that his own GOP e-mails have gone out in the form of invitations to attend meetings.
Though Saturday’s crowd appeared united on health care, recent polls seem to convey mixed messages about where most Americans fall on the proposals that could make their way through Congress this fall.
A late-July Associated Press-GfK Poll showed that overall most Americans believe the country is “headed in the wrong direction,” reads an online CBS News report.
At the time, Obama had a 55-percent approval rating, the report reads. The president had lost ground on health care, with “hopes for success” on that issue down six points, CBS News reported.
The poll of 1,006 people across the country had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent, CBS News said.
An Aug. 5 posting on CNN.com noted that 50 percent of the people queried in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey supported Obama’s health care plans while 45 percent counted themselves among the opposition.
That survey of 1,136 U.S. adults had a 3-percent margin of error, according to CNN.