ROMULUS, Mich. | There were no buses, no swastikas, not a piece of Astroturf in sight.
But there was name-calling, jeering, red faces and finger-pointing as Michigan residents shot back with fury at a congressional town-hall meeting geared to explaining President Obama’s health care plan.
Rep. John D. Dingell, a Democrat and a lead author of health care legislation in the House, did his best to remain composed, even as many constituents and other residents argued that the plan is socialized medicine and rained down fury against a smaller group of supporters for the plan.
“You’re a fraud, you have not read the bill,” screamed Mike Sola, who got directly in the lawmaker’s face in furious confrontation, wheeling his 36-year-old son, Scott, who has cerebral palsy, directly to the podium before police stepped in and encouraged the Milan, Mich., man to leave. He asserted that the bill would not help his disabled child.
“Fascist America,” Mr. Sola screamed on his way out.
Mr. Dingell, 83, who has championed universal health care reform since 1957, joined the fray with many of his Democratic congressional colleagues, who are caught in an angry backlash as they attempt, during the August recess, to sell the president’s health care reform plans in their home districts.
Many have been met with mob scenes and police intervention as public outcry has turned violent.
Mr. Dingell, the longest-serving member of the House, asked for patience as he tried to answer questions at Thursday night’s meeting at the Romulus Athletic Club, but he got little as the jammed conference room erupted into a shouting match, with the bill’s opponents far outnumbering its champions.
In his confrontation with Mr. Sola, Mr. Dingell said an amendment to his House bill would provide care for the younger Mr. Sola’s condition — and later offered to meet with the family privately. But the scene inflamed members of the already seething crowd, who refused to remain quiet as Mr. Dingell tried to speak.
“I get the feeling that you don’t want to know what is in the bill — if you don’t, go home,” he said in frustration.
“How are you paying for it?” a man in the crowd demanded, his face turning crimson. “Where is the money coming from?”
“The bill will assure that the program will be budget neutral,” Mr. Dingell responded as many in the audience booed, hissed and guffawed.
Others retaliated with chants of “health care now,” waving signs of support as camera crews captured the scene.
“Let him speak,” they urged as Mr. Dingell was constantly interrupted.