Feingold session focuses on health care, debt debatesELLSWORTH — The debate over health care reform has dominated the national discussion for weeks.
By: Mike Longaecker, The Republican Eagle
ELLSWORTH — The debate over health care reform has dominated the national discussion for weeks.
For a couple of hours Wednesday, the issue settled over Wisconsin's dairy country.
More than 100 people showed up at the Pierce County Fairgrounds for U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold's annual listening session — many of them to share their thoughts with the Wisconsin lawmaker on health care reform and the national debt.
LuAnn Polivka told Feingold America's mounting debt has "effectively enslaved my children and grandchildren.
"I'm not an angry woman," the Beldenville, Wis., resident said at the listening session, which Feingold holds in each Wisconsin county every year. "But this administration and this Congress have made me an angry woman."
Expressions of frustration over health care proposals, national debt and energy policy were evident at the meeting, though civility prevailed. "Town hall" style meetings in other states held this month by senators on summer recess have been met with boiled-over tempers and shouting matches.
Universal health-care supporters also attended, urging Feingold to support a government option which proponents say would provide coverage for all Americans.
That would be a boon for people whose insurers turn down claims, a River Falls man said.
"Further on down the line, you're going to run into that problem," River Falls resident Thomas R. Smith told supporters of privatized health care.
Feingold said he is supportive of a universal system, but repeated that senators haven't yet been presented with a health-care reform bill. Still, attendees asked him if he would support measures like House bill HR 3200, which includes provisions for a public health insurance option.
"I have no idea because I have no idea what it's going to be," Feingold said of the Senate bill, which he said "ain't gonna look like HR 3200."
Hudson, Wis., resident Elisabeth Nelson told Feingold she worries that personal freedoms are being eroded and that socialism is in the works in Washington, D.C.
"I'm not for socialism," Feingold said. "I don't think anybody's fought harder for the individual rights of Americans than I have."
Other attendees urged the Middleton, Wis., lawmaker to support the dairy farming industry, rail transportation and reduced military spending.
An attendee who described himself as a military veteran asked Feingold if investigation into CIA intelligence-gathering methods could affect agents in the field.
Feingold, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, responded that he is more interested in prosecuting the "high-priced lawyers sitting around the White House" who drew up so-called "enhanced interrogation" techniques.
"There's nothing in those memos," he said, referring to recently declassified documents related to U.S. intelligence agents' interrogation techniques, "to suggest the enhanced interrogation techniques worked."