Archive for Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Brownback talks health care, Gitmo at fairgrounds

U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., speaks to people gathered at a town hall meeting Tuesday at the Leavenworth County Fair in Tonganoxie. Brownback spoke with about 75 people in attendance at the meeting, which focused on health care, immigration and other issues.

U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., speaks to people gathered at a town hall meeting Tuesday at the Leavenworth County Fair in Tonganoxie. Brownback spoke with about 75 people in attendance at the meeting, which focused on health care, immigration and other issues.

August 12, 2009

U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback offered his auction expertise Tuesday at the Leavenworth County Fair in Tonganoxie.

“If you have an auction for a grand champion pig, I’ll do that, too,” Brownback said. “I’m an auctioneer, too.”

Brownback then went into a bit of auction speak, to the delight of about 75 people gathered under a tent at the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds.

But Brownback, R-Kan., currently the lone candidate for the governor’s race in 2010, was in Tonganoxie for a town hall meeting, not the livestock auction.

“What a great weather day for a Kansas fair in August,” Brownback said. “I don’t know how you ordered this up.

“We’re in a tent and I’m not dripping sweat. Well, maybe if I were supporting this massive takeover of health care, I would be dripping sweat.”

Those words led the way for lively discussion about President Barack Obama’s health care plan, Guantanamo Bay, immigration and the direction of the Republican Party.

Regarding health care, Brownback said the country didn’t need “a revolutionary approach to this system.”

He said incremental reform was the answer, noting there needed to be tax deductions for health care insurance costs. Brownback also said trade associations and small businesses should band together for health care insurance and citizens should be able to purchase health insurance across state lines.

Brownback then displayed an expansive organizational chart of the U.S House Democrats’ health care plan, which he viewed as difficult to follow.

Continuing the discussion, Brownback questioned mandating health care coverage. People in Kansas are required to have car insurance to operate their vehicle, Brownback noted, and he said about 10 percent of the driving population doesn’t have auto insurance. He said about 12 percent of the state’s population doesn’t have health care.

“America works best when it works freest,” Brownback said.

Gitmo talk

Brownback reiterated his stance against moving Guantanamo Bay detainees to Leavenworth and mentioned a letter from U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates expressing his opposition to transferring terrorists to Fort Leavenworth.

In the letter, Skelton said the fort also is home to the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks and the Army’s General Command and General Staff College. Skelton said in the letter he had strong indications that “if detainees from Guantanamo were to be transferred to Fort Leavenworth, a number of Muslim countries would decline to continue sending their students to the Command and General Staff College. This would have a very negative outcome for our military officers, the school and the health of our relationships with Muslim nations.”

Brownback said the college was like having “the Rhodes Scholars of the military pass through one place in the country.”

Brownback headed to Fort Leavenworth from the town hall meeting for a ribbon cutting of a new innovation center geared toward advanced communication systems for soldiers in battle.

Concerns from the crowd

At the fairgrounds, people lined up to ask Brownback questions. Some told him they were ready for him to be Kansas’ next governor, while others voiced concerns about immigration reform. He said he continued to support efforts to build fence on the U.S.-Mexico border and expanded e-verification requirements.

One person asked for Brownback to promise to veto any legislation providing tax money for abortions. He assured the woman he was against abortion and would do so.

“I am pro-life,” Brownback said. “I have fought for the pro-life issue. I’m going to continue to fight.”

He went on to say some abortion rights proponents also don’t want the government paying for abortions.

Another person attending the gathering, Chuck Schaaff of Lenexa, spoke of his overall frustration with the Obama administration.

“The biggest threat to this great country is Obama, period,” Schaaff said. “We’ve gotta get him out.”

Dave Dreyer, of Topeka, meanwhile, said the Republican Party needed better leadership. He said Democrats are “all over the airwaves touting their ideas” and that Democrats seem to be well-organized, well-funded and able to get their message across successfully.

He said Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity shouldn’t be the voice of the party “when you should be our voice,” Dryer told Brownback.

Brownback said it was gatherings such as the town hall in which people need to gather and form an “organic movement.”

Republican Party chairman John Bradford then grabbed the microphone and said activity was needed at the grass-roots level and that people shouldn’t come home each night to watch “American Idol.”

“Get off your butt and make the system work,” Bradford said.

“You better allow for more time then,” Dryer responded, referring to the time allotted for questions from the audience.

Bradford then responded, saying the party needed to get more people involved.

“They need to get off the couch, put down their beers and let’s get it done,” he said.

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