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Staff photos by NANCY BROMLEY McCONATYMechanicsville resident Mike Syders said he is tired of big government interfering with his life during a protest rally Saturday.
About 100 people showed up in the parking lot of U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer's Waldorf office Saturday afternoon to protest the congressman's support of a controversial health care reform bill that protesters claimed is a costly and even unconstitutional way to solve the problem.
People began arriving at Hoyer's (D-Md., 5th) office on Post Office Road around 11:30 a.m. bearing signs, fringe party politician Lyndon LaRouche pamphlets and copies of a controversial DVD produced by Alex Jones, an Austin, Texas, radio talk show host, about President Barack Obama.
The rally was hosted by the Republican Club of Charles County; Institute for Liberty, a Washington, D.C.-based group whose Web site says it "is an aggressive defender of the rights of individuals to pursue the American dream;" and Americans for Prosperity, a Washington, D.C.-based group whose Web site says its grass roots members advocate "for public policies that champion the principles of entrepreneurship and fiscal and regulatory restraint."
The rally featured several speakers, including Charles County native Collins A. Bailey, who is running against Hoyer in the 2010 election.
"The federal government needs to make it better for the American people, not worse," he said before the rally started. "We don't need socialized medicine or national health care."
Bailey said the federal government needs to repeal regulations and laws that drive up the cost, limit accessibility and reduce the quality of health care.
Participants lined up on the sidewalk along Post Office Road with protest signs — some reading "Government run health care is not in the Constitution," "Health reform means tort reform," "Steny kill the bill" and "Just say no to Obama Care" — while some passing motorists showed their support by honking their horns, hooting and giving the thumbs-up sign to the protesters.
One of the more controversial segments of one of the health care reform bill proposes a publicly funded insurance option that many protesters at the rally said will be too costly.
"I don't want the government taking over my health care," said Marybeth Hageman of La Plata. "That's up to individuals to choose. If the government isn't involved in health care it won't be so costly. Medicare is going bankrupt yet they say the success of the Medicare program is the reason why we should do this."
Sue Smith of Lexington Park said she is opposed to a proposal she claims is in a bill to form end-of-life panels where people will have a say about whether a critically ill patient lives or dies.
"The government wants to tell doctors and nurses where and how to treat their patients," she said, adding that she is a nurse. "I don't want socialized medicine."
A government Web site, www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck, says a provision in one of the health care reform bills in the house provides money for doctors to be paid back for discussing end-of-life care with patients if the patient asks.
Andrew Langer of the Institute for Liberty said his organization helped to organize the protest rally to let Hoyer know that many of his constituents are not happy with the proposed health care reform bill.
"We want Hoyer to represent his constituency and not shove this health care bill down our throats," he said.
Sam Hale, founder of the Maryland Society of Patriots, attended the rally to show his organization's support.
"We're against government-run health care, and we're especially against Hoyer's support of the bill," he said.
"I'm protesting the direction this country is taking — socialism," said Joe Wible Sr. of Leonardtown. "The Obama administration is spiraling us rapidly toward socialism and … Mr. Hoyer and the other liberals in the Congress and Senate are helping him do it."
White Plains resident Bobby Wallace said he wants to know when Hoyer is going to hold a town hall meeting so that he can hear the concerns of his constituents about health care reform.
"I called him twice and asked when he was going to have a town hall meeting to explain this thing and I haven't heard back from him, yet," he said. "He must be in hiding."
Hoyer will hold a town hall meeting from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 1 at North Point High School at 2500 Davis Road in Waldorf. Doors will open at 6 p.m.
Some protesters said they simply want to speak to Hoyer about their concerns.
"I'm just tired of more government in our lives, and I'm disappointed that our elected officials don't work for us anymore," said Mike Syders of Mechanicsville. "They've taken an attitude that they know better than we do."
"My wife and I have voted for Hoyer during the last two election cycles but the way that he's handling this health care reform issue is going to cost him two votes," said Derwin Hansard of Lexington Park. "The federal government is mortgaging our children's future."
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