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Town Hall Talk: Hoyer's Message in Maryland

By Sarah Lovenheim

The No. 2 Democrat in the House faced a town hall crowd that he called "the largest of his career" last night at a high school in southern Maryland, according to the Baltimore Sun's Paul West.

About 1,700 people congregated to hear the House Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer (Md.), talk about Congress's plans to push health-care reform. The "angry tone and hostile questioning" familiar from other town halls over the summer ensued. So what made Hoyer's town hall stand out?

Aside from the size of the audience, blogs are buzzing about a change in the conversation. During the Q & A, Hoyer was "repeatedly pressed about tort reform," rather than broad-sweeping health care reform goals.

As a lawmaker who's considered "a leading recipient of campaign contributions from lawyers and law firms," the inquiries may not have seemed so off-beat. Trial lawyers are among the most influential Democratic special interest groups and opponents of President Obama's health-care reform plan lament that legislative proposals on health care lack provisions on medical lawsuits.

Hoyer said Congress will likely consider caps on such lawsuits, yet cautioned that capping non-economic damages could mean some victims of medical malpractice "may not get anything of substantial value through the years."

More from Hoyer: "I intend to look at this very seriously and discuss it with my colleagues.... We do want to prevent specious suits. I think we can all agree on that."

Obama said earlier this summer in an address to the American Medical Association that he's not pushing caps on malpractice suits.

Hoyer said he expects Congress to debate health-care reform for eight to 10 weekss once Congress returns from recess, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Watch a clip from the event:

Here's a rundown of some town hall meetings happening today:

Tampa, Fla. -- Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) meets with constituents at Jan K. Platt Library at 10:30 a.m.

King City, Calif. -- Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) meets with constituents at King City Council Chambers at 6:00 p.m.

Across Utah -- Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) meets with constituents at Greenwood Student Center at 1:00 p.m. in Greenwood, at Old Territorial Statehouse at 5 p.m. in Fillmore and at 7:00 p .m. at Delta City Office in Delta.

If you know of other town hall meetings happening nationwide, e-mail us at

By Washington Post editors  |  September 2, 2009; 10:20 AM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  | Tags: health care, southern maryland, steny hoyer, town hall  
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Next: Town Hall Talk: Massachusetts Crowd Cheers Kerry; College Students Tough on Steele


I was watching another town hall coverage on c-span.
A "patriot" type comments: I just wanted to say thanks for all you've done, Senator, and just keep on dragging your feet in every way you can, to make sure they'll never get health care reform passed.
The Republican senator was momentarily speechless, but her sudden flush of embarrassment betrayed her.
Now and again, we see opportunistic GOP senators and such, in their town halls, obviously in the pockets of mega-insurance, inciting the mob with most any lie or gross exaggeration they can spew. Seeing the confusion of the weak-minded and elderly, they attack adding more confusion, all the while amplifying the insecurities of these people. After all, the common folk are not economists nor legislators. They trust their "representatives" to explain things. What a sad abuse of trust!

Posted by: com1rich | September 2, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Hoyer thought the "fix was in", as a pro-Obama group led by Mark Weinstein had promised to pack the hall with SEIU shills gathered from outside the Rep.'s district. Fortunately, the locals showed up before Weinstein could lay down much astroturf, and Hoyer got an earful. The whole place erupted in laughter when he vowed not to vote for any plan that would increase the deficit.

Posted by: OttoDog | September 2, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, even being in a wheelchair doesn't mean you are safe to ask questions.

Oh well, at least there was no physical confrontations like the Senior who was attacked in Florida (

Too bad Americans need to act like 3 year olds in a sandbox instead of adults having an informative conversation.

Posted by: alysheba_3 | September 2, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

The Demoncats had 40 years prior to 1996 to get Healh Care right. 40 years.

Not that the Reboobs are much better, only a little bit.

Idiot Bush and his criminally expensive senior drug plan.

Traitor Obama with his dive into proven-inhumane Socialist 'health' system.

Posted by: member8 | September 2, 2009 7:41 PM | Report abuse

You, the brain-dead followers of the neocon mantra, just remember all you've been promised over the Bush/Cheney years --Rowe vs. Wade down the tubes, more religious ideologies promoted, less homosexual equality, etc., etc. What have you gained in that respect? Not a heck of a lot, right? The same thing will happen if you succeed in helping the neocon crooks in blocking any progress for our nation -- You will be promised much but thereafter total ignored. Safe wading in the waters of the neocons. You will meet some sharks, so beware!

Posted by: GrannyAnnie | September 3, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

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