Bedlam Erupts At Town Hall In Orlando As GOP Rep. Defends Tax Breaks For Rich and Ending Medicare

ThinkProgress filed this report from a town hall in Orlando, FL.

During a town hall in Orlando earlier today, Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) faced a barrage of questions from outraged constituents about the Republican budget. The Orlando Sentinel accurately described the scene as “bedlam.”

For nearly an hour, Webster was peppered with one question after another about his support for ending Medicare, his desire to see tax breaks for the wealthy extended, and his vote to repeal health care reform, including its protections for people with preexisting conditions. For his part, Webster didn’t just avoid the questions by resorting to talking points, as most politicians commonly do. On numerous occasions, Webster simply declined to give an answer to contentious questions altogether, moving on to take a new question instead.

Questions critical of the Ryan budget were met by applause from nearly the entire audience. Watch highlights from the town hall:

Webster is the latest congressman to face a town hall backlash after his vote in favor of Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget plan. Provisions of the Republican budget, which ends Medicare, slashes Medicaid, and extends tax breaks for the wealthy, is opposed by strong majorities of Americans, including over 7 in 10 Republican voters as well.

Last week, ThinkProgress reported from a town hall in Milton, Wisconsin, where Rep. Ryan’s plan to extend tax breaks for the wealthy earned the congressman a loud chorus of boos from his own constituents. Similar backlash among voters to the Republican budget has played out for other congressmen across the country, including Reps. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), Charlie Bass (R-NH), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Robert Dold (R-IL), and Sean Duffy (R-WI).

Following today’s Orlando town hall, ThinkProgress spoke with some of the attendees to get their reaction. One constituent, Tamecka Pierce, asked Webster about what would happen to people like her with major preexisting conditions under the Republican budget. Pierce had to undergo months of chemotherapy to deal with systemic lupus and the resulting kidney damage. Pierce expressed disappointment in Webster. “I don’t think I really got a response,” she told ThinkProgress in an interview. She expressed major concern about the Republican budget, noting that “had it not been for Medicaid, I would be dead.” Watch it:

Update If you record video of your representative’s town hall that you think we would be interested in, please email it to us.

Update TheOrlando Sentinel posted additional video of the "bedlam." See it here.


ThinkProgress / By Scott Keyes

Posted at April 26, 2011, 11:27am

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