Our local U.S. congressman, Rep. Rob Bishop, and his Republican in-state colleague, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, deserve kudos for holding town hall meetings during this politically high-charged month.
It's worth noting that Utah's other congressional members are not planning to have town hall meetings.
Bishop had his first meeting in Layton on Wednesday. On Thursday, he was in Grantsville. At the Layton City Center, the Wednesday venue was packed. Concerns over health care reform have driven many concerned citizens to town hall meetings and that was the topic most wanted to discuss. At the meeting, questions and answers received derision and applause. Those ready to question or voice an opinion stood in hallways and lined the walls waiting for their turn to exercise free speech.
In much of the nation, those opposed to health care reform have loudly protested to Democratic office-holders. Bishop and Chaffetz will likely see a slightly different scenario. Republicans control this state. The town hall meetings are a chance for Democrats to directly challenge Republicans in Congress to offer a health care reform alternative.
We hope Bishop and Chaffetz will listen closely at these town hall meetings and be prepared this fall to back specific reform legislation.
Frankly, there is one thing that just about all Americans can agree on. Something has to be done. According to a recent study from Families USA, health care premiums are rising at a rate four times higher than the average Utahn's wages. Medicare costs are rising beyond a level our nation can fiscally sustain. If Congress ends up punting on health care, we think the public will punish our lawmakers in 2010.
At the Layton town hall meeting, Bishop heard from a wide variety of constituents. There was Eric Resek, 18, of Kaysville, who felt neither party in Congress "is doing anything" to improve our nation.
Polls bear that out. By large majorities Americans feel the country is on the wrong track.
Flora Green, 87, of Syracuse, asked Bishop to "please stand up for us." She added that she often speaks for her generation.
Bishop and Chaffetz plan to have several town hall meetings. We urge Top of Utahns to get to a Bishop town hall meeting and let him know your opinion on health care reform. He works for you. Be respectful and ask tough questions.
Here's a schedule of Rep. Bishop's town hall meetings. He also plans to have a series of telephone town halls in September:
* Wednesday, Aug. 26, 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Hyrum City Building, 83 W. Main St., Hyrum,
* Thursday, Aug. 27, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., Morgan High School, 55 N. 200 East, Morgan,
* Thursday, Aug. 27, 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., Weber County Commission Chambers, 2380 Washington Blvd., Ogden.