Democratic Lawmakers Get an Earful on Health Care Reform

White House calls the anger "manufactured"; protestors say it's quite real.

ByABC News
August 4, 2009, 6:08 PM

Aug. 4, 2009— -- At a town hall meeting today on health care reform, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., got an earful.

"You're lying to me!" yelled Don Jeror, a local conservative activist in the upstate New York district, where Hoyer was visiting.

The same scene of visceral anger has been playing out all over the country, as Members of the House hold town-hall meetings during their recess and are confronted by voters unhappy with President Obama's push for health care reform.

Some Members of Congress have found it exasperating. Rep. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., canceled town-hall meetings after a particularly unruly group prompted him to get a police escort back to his car. Rep. Frank Kratovil, D-Md., was hung in effigy.

In Austin, Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, was shouted down before he could even speak by a crowd of huddle protestors chanting, "Just say no!"

Doggett says there's nothing authentic about these protests.

"This notion of a grass-roots campaign is totally and completely phony," Doggett said in an interview with ABC News. "The Republican Party has coordinated this apparent outrage and stirred it up."

Doggett said that he's happy for dialogue, but "there's no way you can change the legislation to satisfy any of these Republicans and their insurance allies."

In fact, that's the Democratic line -- rallying against insurance companies.

"In spite of the loud, shrill voices trying to interrupt town-hall meetings and just throwing a monkey wrench into everything, we're going to continue to be positive and work hard," Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said today after a visit with President Obama.

Democrats say this public anger is largely bogus -- organized by conservative groups funded by corporate interests, such as the group Conservatives for Patients Rights.

"I think what you've seen is they have bragged about manufacturing, to some degree, that anger," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said today.

There's clearly some organization and strategy. But Bob MacGuffie, a grass-roots libertarian activist from Connecticut, insists that the anger is not manufactured and is "most assuredly real."