Sessions meeting packed
Published 2:19 am Monday, September 7, 2009
By Michele Gerlach
special to the standard
ANDALUSIA — U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., listened to a dozen speakers express their views on health care, the president, cap-and-trade legislation, the CIA, individual rights and God during a town-hall style meeting billed as a “health care listening forum” Wednesday.
Approximately 350 people attended the forum, for which there was heavy security.
Sessions opened with comments about Congress, stating first, “We’re spending too much money.”
Sessions said he opposed the bailout package approved in the Bush administration last fall, opposed the stimulus package approved when the Obama administration took over, and that he has opposed the president’s energy bill, known as cap-and-trade.
The senator said that when the new administration couldn’t get cap-and-trade passed, it moved on to health care reform.
Congress has stalled the reform movement, he said, and now “American people’s voices are being heard.”
Andalusia resident Harry Hinson asked, “Does anybody in Congress or anywhere else understand that ridiculous bill?”
Hinson said he had read portions of the bills and is concerned that in one bill, it states the Secretary of Health and Human Services will write the rules and regulations “for the bill no one understands.”
He also stated that he believes the bill will provide health care to illegal aliens.
Sessions said, “About a fourth of the people who are uninsured are here in the country illegally. We need to quit rewarding illegal entry (by allowing health care).”
Dr. Ab St. John of Andalusia introduced himself as a retired physician.
St. John said Washington needs to address the cost of health care “for people like us trying to make health care premiums.”
He said many of those costs get passed on to private insurance providers.
Sessions agreed and said that Congress should, “go back, start over, and get expert opinions.
Sessions said experts estimate 5 to 30 percent of the costs of health care could be saved with liability reform.
One person who had a turn at the mike expressed concern about the “so-called CIA investigations.”
Sessions said that the “good intelligence” provided by the CIA is the “best thing we have to protect this country.”
He said he visited with CIA agents in a Middle East country after 9-11.
Another man said he believed there is an “anti-God movement in government. What can we do about that?”
Sessions, a Methodist who often references his Sunday School class, said his teacher recently led a study on the Ten Commandments.
He added that he believes values help people live a rich and full life.
Another man expressed concern about Obama’s plan to address school children in a television broadcast this month. The White House says the speech will be about working hard and doing well in school, but critics say that the president will try to get children to encourage their parents to support his agenda.
The senator concluded the meeting by saying that Congress needs to “take time, and start back from square one” on health care.
Sessions, who previously held a similar session in Huntsville, will hold his final forum in Mobile today, Thurs., Sept. 3, before returning to Washington.