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Monday, March 21, 2011

Charlie Dent Faces a Tough Crowd

It was a tough crowd. About forty people were in Northampton County Council's Star Chamber for a Friday morning town hall with LV Congressman Charlie Dent.

In addition to sad stories some constituents who are suffering in a bad economy, some people are just angry at their government. One woman went on for a good ten minutes, criticizing pretty much everything and everybody, without bothering to ask a question. She repeatedly interrupted those who did. At times, things got pretty raucous. At one point, Dent had to ask the audience to settle down. For a few moments, I thought I was in a Council meeting.

I videotaped Dent's positions on a few issues, and thought I'd share them with you.

What's Wrong With Obamacare?

"There's no real cost control built into that law. Some will argue there is. I will respectfully say there is no real cost control." While acknowledging that providing more coverage for people in need is a "noble goal," Dent predicts the system will collapse. He points to Massachusetts, where the cost of care is going up and the ability of the taxpayer to meet that cost is limited. As a result, Massachusetts is "cutting back. They're delaying, denying. They don't have enough providers up there to care for everybody.

What Dent proposes is a "high risk pool" for those with pre-existing conditions, and suggests sudsidizing those without ability to pay. "The pool created in the law is inadequate," claims Dent.

"Half of the uninsured in this country are under the age of 35, many of whom are insurable, and they need to get into lower premium, higher deductible policies, married to a catastrophic coverage."

About Those Nukes ...

Although Dent supports tax credits for wind and solar energy, he said we have to be "realistic" about out short term energy needs. Coal supplies 60% of Pennsylvania's energy needs, and 50% nationally. Natrual gas and nuclear energy are the other two principle sources. Because of what has happened in Japan, nuclear may become "less of the mix." But he cautioned that using less nuclear means more natural gas and coal.

Q. Did you see the list of the highest risk plants in the U.S.? Nuclear plants. Three of them are in Pennsylvania because they were not designed for earthquakes and now they're finding there are fault lines.

Dent indicated there will be all sorts of reviews and studies in the aftermath of the Japanese tragedy.

We Don't Need No Steenkin' Frac Act

Blogger Noel Jones, concerned about safe drinking water, pressed Dent on adopting a National Frac Act. Dent flatly stated that this proposal, which went nowhere last year in a Democratic House, is proposed by a House member who actually is opposed to fracking.

Noel Jones: "We don't want to get cancer and then find out it's bad for us."

Dent: "I think you have to have some of these conversations with the state. I've had confidence in the state DEP to monitor the gas drilling operation and, also, clean water. They have that capacity. I think it's appropriate that they deal with this issue."

Passenger Rail Too Costly.

Referring to a LVEDC and County-sponsored study, Dent asked everyone not to "shoot the messenger," but pointed out that passengers would only be paying 22 cents for every dollar of operating costs. "That's a pretty big delta there." Northampton County Exec John Stoffa, sitting in the audience, confirmed that Dent had stated the facts accurately. Dent noted that the bus service into NJ and NYC is "pretty good."

Be a Maverick

LEPOCO's Sue Ravitz is certainly one of Dent's harshest critics. But she was downright nice to him on Friday.

"I think you're a sweet human being. I know you're a church-going person, even though you had me arrested in your office ... .

Dent: "I didn't have you arrested."

She insisted he did, "but I still respect you as a person who's basically a decent human being." And a Republican, damn it! "Here and there you veer away." She challenged Dent to be a "Maverick."


Anonymous said...

"Half of the uninsured in this country are under the age of 35, many of whom are insurable, and they need to get into lower premium, higher deductible policies, married to a catastrophic coverage."

What does that mean? They need to get into it?

Anonymous said...

He certainly can punt well when asked a question.

Anonymous said...

As long as Charlie stays "to the right of center", he will be ok. If he starts moving to far "into the center", he will be labeled a liberal. We need conservatives running this country. I as well as most in this country are tired of supporting those on entitlements that can be working. Lets fix that.

Clem said...

@ 1:37 -

"Not everyone with a pre-existing illness needs to be subsidized... they just need insurance."

Yes they do. That is why the insurance companies will not insure them.

They will come into the system and require exponentially more resources than their peers in any plan, public or private, causing those already contributing to pay even more.

That, Charlie, is a subsidy, defined.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"He certainly can punt well when asked a question."

The point is that Dent, unlike nearly every other politician, is willing to put himself in these situations and face people with completely different views. You would never have seen that from Callahan, who tries to control everything.

People ask me why I have such high regard for Dent when his views are sometimes different from mine. Let me explain that Dent has all the patience of a John Stoffa, the charm of a Don Cunningham, the brilliance of a Dean Browning, and the ability of a Ron Angle to go for the jugular. He is the most accomplished leader in the Lehigh Valley, and one reason he is such a good leader is because he is such a good listener. I can't think of a single person who does that as well or as sincerely as he does.

Anonymous said...

Many consider Dean's tax whopper vote Charlie's bailout vote to fall somewhere short of "brilliant."

The county is still taxing and spending and TARP banks continue to fail long after the program was called a success by those who supported it. Mission accomplished? Brilliant.

Anonymous said...

"Angry at anybody and everything"

Reminds me of the Tea Party.

Sometimes it seems they cannot follow rationale or prudent decision making. They seem to give a pass to our electricity rates going up 30% and then want to chastise those local goverments who spent more to pay for increased energy costs.

They probably still think Obama's trip to Asia cost $100M day (Bachmann), and PA is preventing kids from eating cookies (Palin).

Time we start "Watching" what the Tea Party says and hold them accountable. God knows, that they have supported some real gutter ball attacks lately.

The first to cry about a pothole or snow removal. The first to be Angry when we pay to have a pothole fixed and snow removed.

This thread reminds me of the Specter Townhall.

Clem said...

He is no Ron Angle. When has Dent gone for the jugular?

You confuse activity with accomplishment. Dent has the chance to lead, he doesn't. He can get out in front on federal pension reform, the gas companies' raping (as opposed to responsible harvesting) and polluting throughout the Marcellus Shale, I could go on and on. Dent is a suit that tries to be all things to all people publicly, while serving himself, primarily.

He's like that loser Cohen from Maine, who retired because he felt the Senate was no longer a "Club". The institution and the role are much more important than our kids' (born and unborn) future.

Civility, sold to the masses so they can continue kicking the can down the road and do as they please, not as we need.

Charlie Dent is no Paul Ryan, and you do our man Ron Angle a great insult comparing him to Dent. Ron will do the right thing and could give a shit what others think. Charlie just wants the mushy middle to love him. His strategy is to screw both sides every once in a while, look to the center and say "See, I stood up to those (insert party of the schtuped here)".

Patrick McHenry said...

Clem -

There's plenty that you could have a legitimate difference of opinion with Dent on, but I don't think Marcellus Shale is one of them.

I see that as more of a state issue, no feds should be involved.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"He is no Ron Angle. When has Dent gone for the jugular?"

Ask John Callahan, Sam Bennett or Charles Dertinger.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 12:51, The angry people at this town hall were mostly from the left. It makes me wonder whether the pendulum is swinging back.

Anonymous said...

"has all the patience of John Stoffa". Some think you confuse "patience" with "coma". It is understandable in the case of Stoffa. In a race between he and a rock the rock always wins.

Keep us laughing O'Hare.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Hate to break this to you, but your incessant vitriolic Stoffa attacks just make him look better and you look like what you are - a cowardly anonymous attacker.

Clem said...

Patrick -

There are interstate commerce issues, and federal energy dept issues, along with the fact that Charlie hails from this state and should support its constituents (you know, the ones that send him to the Club, and the ones who still pay for his healthcare).

Bernie -

As you point out so well, he's good at getting elected, beating up C list opponents. Now that he's done that, lets see something on border security, illegal immigration, the budget, something, ANYTHING of true and lasting value.

My bet is on another town hall and more proclaimations and official statements.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Clem, Dertinger was a C list opponent. Bennett was either a C or B list opponent. But Callahan was an A candidate all the way.

I understand that Charlie is not conservative enough for 'ya, but be fair. Callahan was featured as a formidable opponent, and Dent sliced him six ways to Sunday. While smiling.

Anonymous said...

Just give us the health care that you get charlie Dent. Why do you have and so many don't?