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Florida Congressman confronted by angry town hall crowd

April 26, 2011|By Mark Schlueb, Orlando Sentinel
(Joe Burbank, Orlando Sentinel )

Reporting from Orlando —

A town hall meeting held in Orlando by Rep. Dan Webster (R-Fla.) degenerated into bedlam Tuesday, with members of the crowd shouting down the freshman Republican congressman and yelling at one another.

It was the last of a series of town hall meetings Webster has hosted during Congress' spring recess, which ends Monday. While the others were civil and largely uneventful, the 300 people at Tuesday's meeting were so raucous they were scolded by a police officer to act "like grown people."

Webster tried to go over a series of charts showing growing levels of federal spending and debt, and the reason he supports the federal budget plan put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). But he was interrupted at every turn by shouts from his critics, including members of progressive groups such as Moveon.org and Organize Now.

Boos and shouts of "liar" were mixed with angry accusations that Ryan's plan to change Medicare would leave those now under 55 without health insurance in their retirement, calls to eliminate the tax cuts first put in place by former President Bush and the need to raise corporate taxes rather than cut entitlement programs.

Others in the crowd began yelling at Webster's critics to quiet down, at one point with the chant "Let him talk!" But the meeting frequently devolved into multiple arguments — some of them heated — between members of audience.

When one man who said he was a veteran yelled that he wanted to know why Webster was cutting Medicare and veterans' benefits, his answer came from the audience instead.

"We can't afford it, you moron!" a red-faced man screamed.

Read more at the Orlando Sentinel.

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