Matt and I disagree on a lot of political things, as do his producer, Agnes Cheek, and I.
But it’s OK. Matt understands my mission to get access to health care for all Americans, and he even agrees with me on some points.
The thing is, I treat Matt and Aggie with respect and they do the same for me. We listen to each other’s point of view and don’t talk over each other. We don’t raise our voices. It’s all about constructive conversation.
He posted on Facebook that I was there, and within a few minutes, two people posted questions for me, which I saw when I got home.
One was a woman who wanted to know why New York City is so intent on limiting people’s access to soda.
I explained that my specialty is access to health care, and although I think sugary sodas are bad for people, I won’t try to answer for the government of New York City.
The other was someone who asked me to name one government program that works.
So, I explained that Medicare spends 97 percent of what it takes in on direct services, and the people I know who use it are pretty glad it’s there.
That wasn’t good for him because Medicare is about to go broke.
So I explained that we need to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, since no money is trickling down anyway, and close up corporate tax loopholes so we can shore up Medicare.
That wasn’t good enough for him either because he wanted me to name anything the government does that works.
So I did: Child labor laws, water systems, roads, employee safety regulations, Social Security, schools (until we began de-funding them), federal drug safety laws, police, fire departments, the military, the WIC program, libraries …
They’re no good, he said. They’re all broke.
Well, I said, that’s why we need to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans and close corporate loopholes.
No. Taxes are bad. Oh, and the government’s broke. We need to pay down the deficit.
I explained that he seemed to be talking in circles and spewing talking points rather than having a sincere conversation and that I would disengage.
He sent me another message that all he wanted was the answer to his question.
“I gave you several answers,” I wrote.
That’s the problem with people who insist on using talking points; they can’t stop. They just go from one to the next and back again. Did this man even know what WIC is? It’s one of the most efficient and effective programs out there, offering nutrition education and food to low-income pregnant women, and it stays with them after their babies are born.
And why didn’t he answer to child labor laws? Are they bad too? How about the military and cops and firefighters?
There was no thought in his responses. Nothing the government does is good, we’re broke and need to pay down the deficit and we can’t raise taxes on the “job creators.”
If he wants to continue the conversation the way it was going, he can just go back and read it again and again. I’m too dizzy to stay engaged with him.
Leslie Boyd, a former newspaper reporter, is president of the health care advocacy nonprofit, WNC Health Advocates, founded in memory of her son, who died in 2008 because he couldn't access health care. E-mail her at leslie at lettersfromtheleft dot com or follow her on Twitter @leftyletters1, visit Letters from the Left on Facebook. For more information about WNC Health Advocates or to read Boyd's health care blog, visit wncha.org.