2009 Archives

Dallas' two-party town hall meeting on healthcare is lively but stays civil


The following is from the August 18, 2009, edition of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Political Science Professor Cal Jillson of SMU's Dedman College was moderator of the town hall meeting and frequently provides expertise to journalists writing about politics.

August 18, 2009


DALLAS — U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions was explaining why a public healthcare option is akin to socialized medicine when the person to his left interrupted.

"It’s better than nothing," said U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, referring to the 47 million Americans without insurance.

Shot back Sessions: "Diminished care is exactly what this will result in."

It was one of the few lively back-and-forth exchanges between Sessions, R-Dallas, and Johnson, D-Dallas, at a mostly peaceful healthcare-overhaul forum Monday morning in Dallas.

Town hall meetings are being held nationwide, but this forum was unusual because it was one of the few where a Democrat and Republican appeared together. Johnson and Sessions sat just a few feet apart.

Dozens of demonstrators — supporters and opponents of healthcare legislation — carried signs outside the Cityplace Conference Center, but police reported few problems. The audience of about 300 inside was polite and seemed to applaud Sessions and Johnson equally.

Fielding questions from moderator Cal Jillson, a Southern Methodist University professor, Sessions and Johnson offered contrasting visions of how to make healthcare more accessible.

Read the full story.

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