U.S. Sen. Isakson Fails to Connect at Town Hall Meeting
Progressive activists nationwide and in Georgia have struggled to get meetings with Republican elected officials, in a political environment characterized by division and turmoil.
Constituents thanked U.S. Sen. Isakson numerous times for holding the meeting because many other elected officials have refused to hold any.
“A lot of your colleagues don’t have the guts to talk with us,” one man said.
Over 600 people packed the Bobbie Bailey Auditorium at Kennesaw State University while an overflow crowd was turned away.
U.S. Sen. Isakson started off my condemning the recent attacks against minorities and peaceful protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), neo-Nazis, and White supremacists. This drew a standing ovation, with cheers of approval from the audience.
The first question come from a woman who inquired about U.S. Sen. Isakson’s July 2017 promise to never knowingly vote to cut disability benefits. Despite this promise, Isakson voted for the U.S. Senate health care bills that would cut over 770 billion dollars from Medicaid, harming thousands of Georgians with disabilities.
“Going forward can you reassure us that you will not vote for any bill that would cut Medicaid?”
“I had to make the votes I made to get the bill to the Conference Committee,” Isakson said to loud boos from the audience.
People shouted out such things as: “We want your healthcare,” “We want single payer,” and “You had seven years and did not come up with anything.”
Other people spoke about how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has helped them and how they want it fixed and expanded, not repealed and replaced.
One woman explained that insurance companies are money making machines that are beholden to their shareholders, not to poor and unhealthy people.
“Doctors, nurses, and pharmacists need to be in charge of healthcare, not paper pushing actuaries in an office building,” she said.
U.S. Sen. Isakson accused the press of not telling how he is helping health care by signing the Collins Cassidy health care bill.
“Would you support a single payer system that allows everyone to get the healthcare they need?” a man asked.
The audience rose and chanted “Single Payer! Single Payer!”
“I have a responsibility to make health care as affordable and accessible to every citizen who wants it,” Isakson replied. While no one disagreed, this did not seem to answer the question.
A member of Mothers for Black Boys Unites for Social Change asked the Senator if he would support law enforcement taking classes on de-escalating violence toward Black youth.
“I want to see my son grow up and live his life safely and I’m terrified for him,” the woman said.
Isakson responded that “parental deficit disorder” is the problem and received loud boos from the crowd.
The audience shouted “Black Lives Matter!” and he responded, “All lives matter!” to more boos.
This shows U.S. Sen. Isakson appears to be out of touch with what Black people in Georgia and across the nation are experiencing and talking about when they express fears about law enforcement killing their children.
Another constituent wanted to know if Isakson would show leadership and break ranks with Republican colleagues to oppose the actions of Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), who is dismantling environmental protections.
“Sen. Isakson, will you support a bill to ban a pesticide, chlorpyrifos, that causes brain damage in children,” the woman continued.
“No now and maybe yes later… I am not willing to be a poster child for someone who wants me to be the point of a spear for a political battle.” Sen Isakson said to constituents, who were generally shocked.
Boos followed with shouts of “People above Party.”
“Will you call for the President to remove self-confessed Nazis and White supremacists from his Cabinet, namely Steve Bannon and Steven Miller,” a man said to loud cheers of agreement from the crowd.
[Since the meeting, Bannon has resigned from the administration.]
“No but…” Isakson started to reply, but boos drowned him out, while he restated his opposition to white supremacists.
“The president has to stand firm for the decisions he makes and I vote against any Nazi,” he said.
At a press conference after the meeting, Atlanta Progressive News asked Sen. Isakson if he believed that healthcare was a right or a privilege.
“To mandate that every citizen has it automatically and you figure out how to pay for it – I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to get in the business of saying I’m going to solve everyone’s problems by assessing everyone else to pay for your problem,” Sen. Isakson answered.
See: Georgia Grassroots Video by Judy Conder
(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2017)