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Shouting out: Protesters cheerfully oppose health care reform

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ANN MARIE AMES
August 16, 2009
— A little change is good, but take it easy, because people’s health is on the line.

That was a message shared Saturday morning by many participants at a T.E.A. party rally in front of the Janesville post office, 1818 Milton Ave. Similar rallies across the United States have protested government spending and other issues.


Some of the rallies notoriously have turned violent, but the group gathered in Janesville was cheerful and friendly. Participants waved signs, played patriotic music and shouted at passing cars. They stood in small groups to talk about political issues including inflation, cap and trade, federal debt and federal bailout money.


For many, proposals for government-run health care were at the top of the list of concerns. Specifically, the cost of running such a program was a problem for some at Saturday’s rally.


“If we support government-run health care, we would have to change our standard of living,” said Sarah Shea of Janesville.


Shea lived in France while she was in her 20s, she said. At first, socialized medicine and higher education seemed like a good idea, she said.


Then she learned that people paid more in taxes to live in smaller homes than Americans, she said as an example.


Bill Brandt of Janesville said that President Barack Obama might have had “good intentions” when he proposed health care reform. But many Americans are satisfied with their health care, Brandt said.


“The government may be trying to solve a non-problem,” Brandt said. “What part of that gives you confidence about giving them control of your most intimate decisions?”


Edgerton resident Walter Sturdivant is one of those people who thinks the health care system already is pretty good.


“Our biggest gripe (about proposed government-run health care) is the cost,” Sturdivant said.


“You don’t have to redo the whole system. Just fix the cost. Let’s take a look at the costs and give the American people a choice.”


Bill and Beth Sweeney of Beloit are new to protesting, although they’ve attended several rallies since their first T.E.A. party in Madison in April.


They are not happy with the drastic number of changes proposed to the health care system.


“The best way I’ve heard it said is, ‘You want to remodel your kitchen? Why blow up the whole house?’” Bill Sweeney said.


The two are grateful for one thing: they are making themselves into better-informed voters.


“One thing I am thankful to Obama for is he’s made me aware,” Beth Sweeney said. “I don’t like the change that’s happening, and I just want them to know we’re paying attention. I’m trying to educate myself and inform myself.”


Bill Sweeney agreed from behind the “bars” of a sign he made depicting a jail cell. The sign read, “I ask questions. They won’t answer. That makes me evil.”


Sweeney said he and his wife are better off for being more informed.


“Before, our vote was our only voice,” he said.


OTHER CONCERNS OF PROTESTERS

Many people opposed health care reform at a rally in Janesville on Saturday morning.


Other concerns included:


--The loss of American jobs overseas.


Trevor Klett of Beloit held a sign that said, “This sign made in China.”


“We’re losing jobs that we could have had over here,” Klett said.


--Politicians’ communications with constituents.


Bill and Beth Sweeney of Beloit are concerned that politicians are out of touch with Americans.


“A lot of people are speaking out and don’t believe they’re being listened to,” Bill Sweeney said.


--Government control.


“This (health care reform) bill really isn’t about health care. It’s about more government control and taking away our freedoms,” said Marty Zuniga of Beloit.



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