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Debate headed here this week

Did you happen to see the editorial cartoon on this page of Wednesday’s paper?

It depicts a couple watching television. An announcer says “Obama’s health care plan will require that you give up your firstborn child.”

And one of the people watching responds, “Trust me, there will be people who will believe it.”

I haven’t read any of the five proposed health care bills, but I’ve heard a number of people speak with authority about what they believe those bills include. It’s obvious from some of the outrageous things I’ve heard that people will believe most anything.

When in the space of a week U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions scheduled a “listening session” on healthcare here and Rep. Bobby Bright scheduled a telephone “town hall conference,” I decided it was time to pay attention.

So I phoned in to Bright’s conversation Wednesday night, along with approximately 999 other people in his district. Bright opened the call by saying, “I’m opposed to the five bills that are pending.”

Predictable. Bright is a conservative Democrat whose votes in his first term have reflected the “values” of South Alabama folks,

The Congressman gave a number of reasons he doesn’t like the bills. They are too drastic, they revamp the entire health system, and put too much of a burden on small businesses.

He was, he said, “looking for suggestions or solutions on what I need to do in lieu of that.”

As predictable as Bright’s position were the words of the first caller, a man from Millbrook. “You said you were opposed to this health care bill, right? … I’m very proud of you, Mr. Bright, that’s what I wanted to know.

A poll of those participating showed that most of the 1,000 dialing in have private insurance or Medicaire. Fifteen percent of the listeners said they support a health care bill; 77 percent oppose it; and 8 percent are unsure.

When an Opp listener said she is concerned as a senior citizen that she will be “limited in how often I can go to the doctor,” he said, “That’s a misconception people have put out there to scare people on health care change.”

Alabama’s Sen. Richard Shelby is on the record in opposition to the health care bills. Sessions hasn’t officially opposed the bill, but generally votes even more conservatively than Shelby. On his Web site, http://sessions.senate.gov, each proposed bill is available, as is an overview and links to other health care proposals.

Neal Dansby tells me that the Kiwanis Center will be set up with 600 chairs when Sessions arrives in Andalusia Wednesday for one of two South Alabama “listening sessions.” The Andalusia program is set for 2 p.m. and the doors will be opened at 1.

See you there.