Las Vegas, NV – On Saturday, Senator Dean Heller held a private forum with local Republicans at a retirement community in Henderson. After the fact, Heller’s spokesman described it as an “overall good meeting.” Unfortunately it was hard to judge that claim because Heller’s handlers kept the event closed to reporters and the general public. Today, POLITICO exposed the contents of the meeting in a new story… it turns out it was not a very good meeting.
Here are some of the most interesting takeaways –
Dean Heller doesn’t think health care is a right. In fact, Heller compared health care to owning a car.
The Nevada senator has been quiet about the GOP’s efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act as he prepares to run for reelection as the only Republican incumbent from a state that Hillary Clinton won. But Heller raised significant issues to state Republicans and senior center residents about how the bill would affect the state’s Medicaid population, even as he declined to say that health care is a fundamental right.
“I’ve heard a lot of people say that every American has a right to an automobile,” Heller said to guffaws from liberal attendees, who frequently challenged him and at one point called him a liar.
Heller criticized the House GOP’s proposed timetable for rolling back Medicaid expansion. So why did he refuse to join four of his Republican Senate colleagues last week against the repeal plan because it rolls back Medicaid expansion?
But the focus was mostly on how Heller handles Obamacare repeal. Nevada has nearly 300,000 people who have obtained insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, and the state’s GOP governor, Brian Sandoval, has warned against changing it. The House bill would keep the expansion through 2019 before winding it down, although some conservatives want to begin gutting it earlier.
“They’re talking about 2020, now they’re talking about making the changes in 2018,” Heller said. “That’s not enough time for Nevada to adjust. We need time to adjust. I want to move that thing up four or five years,” he added, referring to a longer delay.
Heller’s position on Neil Gorsuch so far has been that he’ll “wait until hearings to determine how he will vote.” On Saturday, Donald Trump’s lazy rubber stamp accidentally announced he’s supporting Trump’s Supreme Court pick.
Indeed, the Nevada senator offered something to liberals and conservatives as part of his balancing act. He said he supports Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court…
Just like Trump, Dean Heller lies about President Obama’s record. Yesterday, he falsely claimed, “We didn’t have economic growth for the last eight years.”
Heller claimed at one point that the economy was entirely stagnant under former President Barack Obama despite steady growth after the recession.
“It’s been eight years, eight years since I’ve heard a treasury secretary talk about economic growth,” Heller said. “They never talked about economic growth. You know what? We didn’t have economic growth for the last eight years.”
No matter where he goes, Heller is desperate to avoid the press and his constituents.
He faced protesters outside the Henderson event for avoiding public town hall events that have turned into forums for liberal activists. Heller has instead focused on private events and “tele-town halls” in which constituents can call in. Heller also rarely speaks to reporters in Washington, often using routes in the Capitol to avoid the media.
When Heller’s spokesman told the Las Vegas Sun this was an “overall good meeting” … he was clearly lying.
Asked by one person Saturday why he won’t have an open town hall meeting, Heller responded: “Did anybody force you to come today? This is a town hall meeting.” That remark led to shouting matches between Heller’s supporters and his hecklers, with one organizer telling attendees they are “acting like children.”
It wasn’t the only moment of hostility.
A woman shot back: “Liar, liar pants on fire.” Officials at the event then tried to remove her, according to the audio.