El Dorado Hills resident Kelley Nalewaja faces a dilemma.
Her family’s health insurance is set to increase, again. The Nalewajas used to pay around $500 for themselves and their three school-age children. Then the cost increased to about $600. Later this year that figure’s expected to jump to more than $800, Nalewaja told the 100-plus guests at the Tea Party Patriots of El Dorado Hill meeting Wednesday night.
“We’re self-employed,” she said. “We don’t have anybody giving us insurance.”
Audience members gasped and shook their heads as Nalewaja spoke. Their moods shifting 180 after a resounding cheer for the House of Representatives vote to repeal President Barack Obama’s healthcare bill earlier in the day.
Norman Gonzales, community outreach director for Republican Congressman Tom McClintock, said Nalewaja isn’t alone. As “Obamacare” takes effect, he explained, more people will see their insurance costs rise.
“When you take freedom out costs will go up,” Gonzales said.
The Republican-controlled House kept its first promise by repealing the healthcare bill, a largely symbolic move since Democrats still control the Senate, according to Gonzales. Now it’s up to people like Tea Party members to make sure legislators keep their other promises, he added. “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”
Heads nodded in agreement in the Holiday Inn Express meeting room. A question of “What can we do?” was raised.
“The next time we’ve go to get control of the Senate,” Gonzales said. “And again in 2012 we’ve got to get that White House.”
On the local level, Gonzales applauded the Tea Party Patriots for supporting conservative candidates for the El Dorado Union High School District School Board. Newly elected board members Todd White and Kevin Brown introduced themselves at the meeting, as did state Assembly District 4 candidate Beth Gaines. Her husband, newly elected Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, also attended and received heavy applause before taking the podium and pledging to oppose Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to extend taxes to help solve the state budget crisis.
The self-described “eternal optimist” said he thinks voters, who shot down tax increases in November, will not support Brown’s plan and this rejection will force legislators and the governor to make real cuts and sacrifices in areas like state employee benefits and retirement packages. “Things are getting bad enough and chronic enough that I’m hoping we can find some common sense … and work across the aisle,” Gaines said.
Noting that the Tea party isn’t exclusively a Republican club, Gonzales also called for unity. He noted that three Democrats joined Republicans in the House’s repeal vote. “When a Democrat does something good, reward them for that,” he said.
The Tea Party Patriots of El Dorado Hills website also encourages members to call their congressman “all week” to express their support for healthcare repeal.
Noting that change often begins at the local level, Tea Party Patriots member Aaron Palm encouraged audience members to get involved in local government — attend meetings at the El Dorado Irrigation District, El Dorado County Board of Supervisors, El Dorado Hills Community Services District and local school boards. “Hold their feet to the fire,” he said.
Several people raised their hands to volunteer.
Looking at the eager volunteers and large crowd (every chair was taken), Tea Party Patriots Treasurer Bill Webb said it’s clear this movement isn’t going away, as critics predicted.
The next Tea Party Patriots of El Dorado Hills is scheduled from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 16, at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites in El Dorado Hills. For more information visit www.teapartypatriots.org.