Pelosi Calls Health Care Protests 'Astroturf'
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office sent out a fact sheet to reporters Tuesday afternoon, calling recent demonstrations at congressional town hall events "Astroturf," the Washington euphemism for a corporate public relations campaign disguised to look like a grass roots citizen movement.
Pelosi said that while Democrats are putting forth proposals to reform health care, "those not interested in health insurance reform are disrupting public meetings and not allowing concerned constituents to ask questions and express their views. Many of these opponents who are shutting down civil discussion are organized by out-of-district, extremist political groups, and industry-supported lobbying firms."
The statement, citing numerous media reports, linked disruptions of congressional meetings to the insurance industry and conservative organizations like FreedomWorks, which is run by former House Republican leader Dick Armey.
As opposed to Astroturf opponents, "Democratic members of Congress will continue to talk about the benefits" of health insurance reform, Pelosi said. "Successful, informative constituent meetings are being headlined by Democrats across the country."
Democratic House members are traveling through their districts, frequently encountering angry crowds opposing health care reform, energy reform and the growing federal deficit. This week, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) faced a group of protesting constituents, which he called a "mob scene."
Pelosi's words are part of a broader Democratic effort to portray the demonstrations as not reflecting real voter sentiment. The DNC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out similar communications on Tuesday.