Gardner health reform town hall not so much about health reform

State Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, is holding health-care town halls in the swing Fourth District, where he is also running to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey. He held a telephone town hall Tuesday, and this coming Wednesday he’s holding a live town hall in Fort Collins. The headlines played large at his website shout the politics of the strategy: “Gardner to host town halls in Markey’s absence” and “Look who’s not afraid of holding town halls.” Markey is in Israel on a Congressional fact-finding mission. She plans to hold coffee shop town halls when she returns.

Safe to say, a Markey health-care town hall or meeting will be a very different animal than a Gardner health-care town hall or meeting. For Markey, the town halls will concern a reform plan on which she will cast a vote. For Gardner, the town halls are campaign stops, rallies with the same faithful he addressed with vigor at the tea parties in April. He does not have a vote in Congress, so people in support of the Democratic health-reform plan will have no real reason to attend his “town halls.” There will be no discussion or debate.

Bob Moore, editor of the Fort Collins Coloradoan last week Twittered the Gardner telephone town hall. According to Moore, Gardner used the opportunity to decry the massive health-reform bill and the “cap and trade” energy tax. He also railed against the Fairness Doctrine, which was introduced in 1949, vetoed by Reagan in 1987 and now may be reintroduced. The Doctrine obliged media outlets to address controversial topics of public interest and to present contrasting views on those topics, a burden conservative talk radio feels is too great. What “cap and trade” and the Fairness Doctrine have to do with health reform we will likely learn at Gardner’s Wednesday town hall.

The Gardner website also contains a petition he asks visitors to sign and which is meant to guide Markey in her deliberations on health reform. Gardner, as a state representative, enjoys the benefits of government-controlled health care.

“I, the undersigned citizen of the United States, petition Congresswoman Betsy Markey of the 4th Congressional District of Colorado to:

* Vote against any further increased role of the federal government in my health care decisions;

* Oppose any increase in taxes to fund expanded health insurance coverage;

* Oppose “single-payer” health care as well as “public option” plans that lead to “single payer” plans;

* Protect the existing choice and level of health care for the approximate 85% of the population that currently has health insurance;

* Protect my right to choose my own doctors and hospitals without delay or denial, and obtain care that is patient-centered;

* Protect my right to purchase health insurance that is personal, portable and best suits my needs,

* Support private sector solutions as the way to provide insurance coverage and care to the uninsured population of the United States.”

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