The Aegis
The Aegis Opinion

Harris gets his chance to knock down the ACA straw man [Editorial]

First District Congressman Andy Harris is crying "foul."

Invoking what amounts to an analogy of the old "outside agitators" claims of the Nixon-Agnew era, Harris has said he won't hold any of his popular in-person town meetings because he fears confrontations with supporters of the Affordable Care Act that he and other Republicans have sworn to nuke now that they control both houses of Congress and the White House.


As reported last week by John Fritze, of The Baltimore Sun, Harris said the people who are showing up at town hall meetings held by Republican members of Congress to voice concern over the repeal of Obamacare are "organized" and funded by out-of-district interest groups. Harris said he will not conduct such a meeting until Republicans announce a plan to replace the law.

Harris described the angry confrontations his fellow Republicans have faced in constituent meetings as "George Soros-funded," referring to the prominent Democratic donor. The claim has been made by GOP lawmakers in other states as well.


Harris says he'll continue to do phone-in town halls, essentially conference calls, but he's not going to show up in person to be pilloried and lambasted by people he doesn't represent.

Which, for those keeping score, means for the time being he'll be going from once-a-year Andy to no-show Andy where Harford County is concerned.

Will his Harford constituents mind? We suspect they won't. Harris generally comes to Bel Air annually and takes over the commissioners room at Bel Air Town Hall for an afternoon of rousing back and forth with his like-minded faithful, who in past years joined him railing against all things Democrat and Obama and particularly the ACA.

Who attended these love-ins? Mainly white, middle age to senior citizens who probably would have been at home at a Donald Trump rally had one been held locally last year. Like Harris, they considered Obamacare about as un-American as it gets, and the mood of congressman and constituent could be best summed up by: "I've got mine" and "Keep the government off of my back and out of my pocket."

Harris, an anesthesiologist by profession, pegged his march to Washington on dismantling the ACA, which was passed the year before he made it to the Capitol. (His predecessor, Frank Kratovil, a Democrat who defeated Harris in the 2008 First District race, voted against the ACA when it was approved in 2010, but that didn't save him from the Tea Party revolt that helped Harris and a number of other Republicans get House seats that fall.)

Harris has had six years to posture and spar with the straw man called Obamacare and now, thanks to the Republican "landslide" of 2016, he finally gets the opportunity to knock that straw man down and replace it, supposedly with something better or, perhaps, no national health care plan guarantee at all.

We'll be interested to see what follows. Good intentions or not, there comes a day when even contrarians on the back bench, like Harris, have to put up or shut up. Will his straw man be replaced by the tar baby? Apparently, we're going to find out, whether we like the result or not.