Arcuri to President: "I am doing what's right for my district;" Hanna not convinced
WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKTV) - 24th Congressional District Representative Micheal Arcuri is one of only 34 democrats to vote against the Senate's version of Healthcare Reform on Sunday.
Monday afternoon, Representative Arcuri told NEWSChannel 2 that he had a conversation with President Obama, and says he told the President that he is only doing what he believes is right for the people of his district.
The Congressman is still down in Washington, where more votes will take place this week. Arcuri told us by phone Monday afternoon that he voted no for many reasons. First, he believes the bill will increase the insurance premiums for those who already have it, and secondly, the number of people on Medicaid will rise dramatically, increasing everyone else's taxes.
Arcuri says that he listened to his constituents, many of them who called his office last week.
"I think, in all, we had 3,700 plus people calling, saying they were against it, and over 2,000 calling saying that they favored it," Arcuri said. "That's in an eight-day period. That's a huge number of calls, again, in eight days in our office - and that's about 65-35% ratio of constituents."
"And I said this to the President," Arcuri said. "The President told me this is what America wanted, and I said 'You know, Sir, with all due respect, you don't know what my district wants. And I'm telling you what my district is telling me and that's all I represent. That's all they have, and I have to represent my district in the very best way that I can."
The man who is running for Arcuri's Congressional seat in November - Richard Hanna - said Monday that he didn't believe Arcuri's decision was made for the well-being of his constituents, calling the vote "political opportunism."
"The voters are not so naive to think that Mr. Arcuri's vote is a profile in courage," Hanna said. "He was simply given a pass by his party's leadership based on his performance in his last election."
Hanna pointed to Arcuri's November vote in favor of government-run healthcare which he said "enabled this process."
"Health care reform is desperately needed, but the bill approved last night is not the way forward," Hanna said. "It fails to adequately address some simple actions that would be essential to achieve true reform, including tort reform, portability of insurance and controls on spending."
Hanna listed several details in a press release as to why he felt these things are important:
Tort reform: "Malpractice insurance is an excessive expense for doctors, which then get passed on to the general public," Hanna said. "The Congressional Budget Office estimates that lawsuit-abuse reform would save federal taxpayers $54 billion over the next 10 years."
Portability of insurance: "We need a plan that fosters competition, is portable and allows insurance companies to cross state lines," Hanna said. "American families should be able to receive affordable health insurance and quality care regardless of where they work or how much they earn."
"This bill is well intentioned and has some merits - for instance, it is simply immoral to deny people insurance for pre-existing conditions," Hanna said. "Yet it does not do enough to achieve true reform. I could not support this bill because it's loaded with pork, special deals and unconscionable payoffs to ensure its passage. Ten years of taxing would pay for only six years of spending, and the government is stealing funds from education while taking roughly $500 billion from Medicare - a system that is already broken - and $500 billion in new taxes. Mr. Arcuri enabled this process, as with cap-and-trade, he voted 'yes' then voted 'no' and as a result we have these flawed bills."