Speed Reads


Rep. Tom MacArthur met with livid constituents for the first time since he resuscitated the GOP health bill

Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) held his first town hall on Wednesday night since his amendment on pre-existing conditions revived the GOP health-care bill, leading to its passage in the House. He took questions from his constituents for nearly five hours in Willingboro, and it was not a friendly crowd — not that he'd expected it to be. Before the town hall, his office had noted that Willingboro is 73 percent black and had only given him 12 percent of its vote last fall, points he reiterated during the town hall.

MacArthur fielded a series of questions about President Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey (he said he wasn't in favor of an independent investigation, yet, but he also said "I didn't come here to defend the president tonight"), but most of his constituents wanted to talk about health care. Many of them blamed him for, as one man put it, bringing the American Health Care Act "back from death." One woman shouted, "My blood will be on your hands," and when MacArthur said he was happy that ObamaCare expanded insurance coverage but "I'm looking at an insurance market that is collapsing," a man yelled out, "That's because you drilled holes in it!" There were a lot of calls for switching to a single-payer system.

Another constituent noted the AHCA includes big cuts to Medicaid and slightly bigger tax cuts that primarily benefit the super wealthy, giving as an example the $37,000 a year MacArthur, a former insurance executive, would save under the law. MacArthur disagreed with the assessment of the bill. "This isn't tax cuts for the rich — this is tax cuts for everybody!" he said, explaining that it zeroes out taxes and income on profits from stock investments. You can get a flavor of what The Washington Post's David Weigel called the "toxic" environment in the CNN report below. Peter Weber