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Tilting at Windmills

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August 12, 2009

STOP PRETENDING GRASSLEY IS SERIOUS ABOUT REFORM.... Ladies and gentlemen, I present you with the leading Republican lawmaker negotiating a "compromise" on health care reform.

One of the three Republican senators working on a bipartisan health care bill perpetuated a particularly outrageous untruth about the legislation on Wednesday.

Appearing at a town hall in his home state of Iowa, Sen. Chuck Grassley told a crowd of more than 300 that they were correct to fear that the government would "pull the plug on grandma."

"There is some fear because in the House bill, there is counseling for end-of-life," Grassley said. "And from that standpoint, you have every right to fear. You shouldn't have counseling at the end of life. You ought to have counseling 20 years before you're going to die. You ought to plan these things out. And I don't have any problem with things like living wills. But they ought to be done within the family. We should not have a government program that determines if you're going to pull the plug on grandma."

Just yesterday, President Obama described Chuck Grassley as one of his "Republican friends on Capitol Hill" who is "sincerely trying to figure out if they can find a health care bill that works." Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) recently said of Grassley that he "couldn't ask for a better partner" in working towards reform.

Obama and Baucus are wrong; and negotiating with Grassley in good faith is a mistake.

Grassley isn't serious about reform. Not at all. Seriously. He's proven this again and again. It's time to stop trying. Grassley will only let down reform advocates in the end.

Update: Joe Klein on Grassley's comments: "[H]e either (a) hasn't the vaguest notion of what's in the bill or (b) he is so intimidated by the ditto-head-brown-shirts that he is trying to fudge a response to keep them happy. Either way, he should be ashamed. And once has to wonder about the fate of the Senate Finance Committee deliberations if this is what the Administration is dealing with."

Steve Benen 4:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (38)

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Comments

I asked this before and I'll ask it again. What is up with Iowa? It is a blue state that supported Obama from the beginning. Do the citizens of Iowa have no power to exert over their senator? Can I see an ad or even an appearance at a town hall to express support for health care reform? Why does Grassley feel so comfortable in spewing the crazy with impunity?

Posted by: PS on August 12, 2009 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe "Republican friends on Capitol Hill" is new code for "heckuva job"....or "Sleeps with the fishes"....

Posted by: johnnymags on August 12, 2009 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is going to Montana for a town meeting. That would be an excellent place for him to have Baucus up on a stage and announce that negotiations with the Republicans are over, and legislation will pass the Senate by any means necessary.

Posted by: JMG on August 12, 2009 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) recently said of Grassley that he "couldn't ask for a better partner" in working towards reform....Obama and Baucus are mistaken...

Obama, yes, but Baucus is not mistaken at all. If your goal is to go through the motions on healthcare to forestall a primary challenge, but deliver substantive results (ie., blocking reform entirely, or a real crappy bill that will only please Big Insurance) that conservatives will love, then Grassley is indeed a terrific "partner."

The only mistake one can make in analyzing what's going on right now with respect to healthcare reform is an insufficient degree of cynicism.

Posted by: Jasper on August 12, 2009 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

With as disgusting and revolting as republicans are today I seriously regret ever voting for any republican.

Terrorizing old people with lies is quite the family value.

Posted by: Silver Owl on August 12, 2009 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Can we end these "town halls" now? Watching CNN today they showed a blip about town halls today, and said "we'll cut to it if it gets interesting..." meaning if shouting breaks out. Who cares if the nuts claim victory, there are better ways to get the information out to constituents. Someone is going to get killed at one of these.

Posted by: Rolla on August 12, 2009 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) recently said of Grassley that he "couldn't ask for a better SNAKE IN THE GRASS" in working towards reform.

Fixed it for ya, Max.

Posted by: Marko on August 12, 2009 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Let's cut to the chase: where can we find groups collecting money to run ads against Grassley (and Baucus too), in their home states, exposing the rank and stupid, stupid lies of the former and the passive aggressive do-nothingism of the latter? (Akin to the one exposing Nelson's lies and special interests.) When are these bozos up for reelection? Who will be running against them? Can Baucus be primaried?

Posted by: SF on August 12, 2009 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Someone should point out to these idiots that "end-of-life" doesn't always equal OLD. A friend of mine in her 30s has been battling cancer. As a single mother, her decisions on end of life care if she becomes terminal may be different than she anticipated when she did a living will a couple of years ago - both because of her particular disease and treatment options and the need to provide for her child. Counseling and legal advice should be available to her as part of her health care.

Posted by: ghillie on August 12, 2009 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, thanks for the timing of this post (just after I read Reuters' U.S. healthcare town halls: Anger, fear and lunacy).

The Baucus Caucus's footdragging ain't the only source of trouble, but we can sure discredit them for a goodly chunk of it.

Posted by: lotus on August 12, 2009 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

EXCELLENT point, ghillie -- though I'm very sorry you have that handy example to offer. Best luck to your friend.

Posted by: lotus on August 12, 2009 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

This Senator is part of the "Senseless" Six on the Senate Finance Committee stringing us along while they accomplish "NOTHING".
It is impossible to EVER have a Bipartisan solution to Health Care Reform with stupid comments regarding killing older Americans as part of Health Care Reform.
With "Idiots" like this heading our Senate Committees ,I am amazed we Still have Medicare or Social Security programs.
The Democrats have an opportunity to improve our Health Care System. The Dems must unite to produce meaningful reform legislation with a public option. Insurance reform without premium competition is meaningless.
Who do our Senators represent ?
Do they represent our interests or the Interests of their corporate contributors ?
The outrageous noise made by uneducated Zealots at Townhall meetings can't destroy REAL Health Care reform, only the majority Democrats in Congress CAN do that !


Posted by: ParityFanatic on August 12, 2009 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

ghillie makes a great point. Terri Schiavo is what happens when you don't deal with EOL issues when you are YOUNG.

Grassley's problem is he's elderly and slightly dim. That's just a simple fact. I watched the town hall and he had a hard time keeping the questions straight. This response is absurd on its face -- "don't have counseling at the end of life, have it 20 years before" -- and is a perfect example of his problem. He doesn't understand what EOL counseling is in the least, or the issues with getting people to even discuss it. His town hall was to convince people he was against the public plan and against euthanasia. An uninsured woman with kids there said she could not get coverage for her family without a $10K deduction per person for less than $830/month. She was outraged about insurance companies stealing from citizens -- and she was not even a supporter of this reform, per se. His response was confused.

Posted by: evie on August 12, 2009 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder how Grassley's enjoying his taxpayer funded government run healthcare? If he's so serious about how bad it is then maybe it's time he give it up.

Posted by: Former Dan on August 12, 2009 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Tell me why this is wrong. The left wing and the right wing are both winning the healhcare war. The democrates have to pass a bill. To do otherwise would be complete disaster for the leaders and the faithful. They have the numbers and they have to pass a bill. The right wing knows this and are trying to make sure that no republicans vote for the bill. They are probably being successful (with the possible exception of Collins and Snow). This means no compromise bill which is what the left wing wants.

Posted by: stuart on August 12, 2009 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

stuart, that sounds right to me.

Posted by: ferg on August 12, 2009 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Former Dan -- they don't have government run health care (unless they are on medicare, for some reason). Members of congress get Blue Cross or United Health or Cigna like everyone else.

stuart -- my concern is that we won't get Republicans yet we "compromise" the public option out. They'll then have succeeded in killing a key part of the bill while still voting against it. To me, without the public option, they'd need to guarantee 80+ votes. Otherwise, there is zero reason to do it.

Posted by: evie on August 12, 2009 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Can we shut down the fucking circus now? Goddamn these people. I hate them more and more every day. Democrats need to leave these fuckers behind and get this done.

Posted by: ajaye on August 12, 2009 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Obama and Baucus are wrong; and negotiating with Grassley in good faith is a mistake.

Only in some bizzaro parallel universe could either Obama's or Baucus' conduct be characterized as "negotiating in good faith."

Posted by: Duncan Kinder on August 12, 2009 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

ajaye - Amen to that.

Posted by: Rolla on August 12, 2009 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Woody Allen aside, sooner or later, you're GONNA DIE!

Get over it, America.

The time to plan for that event is NOW, while you still have all your physical and mental faculties (Too late for many Republicans, but still. . .)

Personally, I view my corporal self the same way I feel about my used car. When I'm finished with it, part me out, and recycle the rest.

But I realize that death is so scarey for many that they can't bring themselves to contemplate the Big Sleep, let alone plan for it.

Interesting that Christianity addresses the event in some detail- n'est pas? ? ?

Posted by: DAy on August 12, 2009 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

"...And once(sic) has to wonder about the fate of the Senate Finance Committee deliberations..." Joe Klein quoted by Steve Benen @ 4:40 PM.
If there is such a thing as justice in this world, the bill reported out of that committee will die a quiet, ignored death.
I'm not holding my breath, though...

Posted by: Doug on August 12, 2009 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking as an Iowan who is not in Grassley's district, it's clear to me that he's in the pocket of the insurance industry. It might surprise people to know that Des Moines, Iowa, is a national center for insurance companies. So he's been bought and paid for by corporate interests, and has no intention of serving his constituents.

So, Mr. Grassley, I have a message for you. You might think your seniority entitles you to a lifetime appointment to the Senate. That's what Iowa's Republican Senator Jim Leach thought. Then he forgot about his constituents, sold out to Big Business, and his constituents got fed up with him. Now he's FORMER Senator Jim Leach. Iowans chose an inexperienced Democrat over a sellout senior Republican.

Grassley, oppose your constituents' wishes at your peril. Iowans overwhelmingly support Obama's health care reforms. Support it or you will pay for your mistake at the next election. Iowans have a long memory. I look forward to your lengthy career as FORMER Senator Chuck Grassley.

Posted by: charlie don't surf on August 12, 2009 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

The Dems should just pull the bill out of the finance committee absolutely first thing when break is over. Just tell the gang of six that the clock has run out (or that they forfeited the game). First thing, top of the list, when they come back in September.

Posted by: gbear on August 12, 2009 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

I've been highly skeptical of Grassley from the git-go. He was on the Lehrer News Hour about a week ago and couldn't say anything intelligent, just spewing all the predictable right wing talking points. What a buffoon.

Posted by: Varecia on August 12, 2009 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking as an Iowan who is not in Grassley's district

er, you might wanna check those district boundaries, Iowan.

Posted by: Toto on August 12, 2009 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with JMG - abandon the obviously fruitless effort to get Republicans to work with Democrats on anything. Pull together the best legislation you can, get broad agreement that it's good for the country, and then ram it through. Bush's congress did it all the time, and perhaps the Republicans will respect brute force, since they love to characterize Democrats as knobby-kneed nerds. Once it's the law of the land, they'll have no choice but to obey, and should be promptly arrested at any signs of disobedience. They'll say Obama is being a Nazi, but they say that now when he's not.

Posted by: Mark on August 12, 2009 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

Respectful Town Hall Thugs. The AP reports that a Republican, Grassley's, town hall meetings have attendees that were respectful unlike other politicians town halls recently. Well, of course, the other politicians were Democrats and the thugs who are disrupting town hall meetings are Republican operatives and their dups fed by the lies and money of insurers. It's amazing that the AP wants to charge bloggers 12.50 to quote 5 words and those words turn out to be not only useless and inaccurate but also biased.

I'm surprised Grassley isn't out disrupting Democrats' town halls. He's one of the thugs.

Posted by: Dale on August 12, 2009 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

Time to pull the plug on Grassley.

Posted by: Disputo on August 12, 2009 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

And, oh yeah, give the Dem leadership some end-of-bipartisan-life counseling.

Posted by: Disputo on August 12, 2009 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

Just yesterday, President Obama described Chuck Grassley as one of his "Republican friends on Capitol Hill" who is "sincerely trying to figure out if they can find a health care bill that works."

Just ask yourself what fucking good a statement like this does. I voted for BHO and I find it fucking insulting.

Posted by: Econobuzz on August 12, 2009 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

Obama was wrong about Grassley being a great partner, Max Baucas was right. That is because Obama actually wants reform, while Baucas is on the take. He is bought and paid for by those getting rich from business as usual.

Posted by: Layne on August 12, 2009 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

Just ask yourself what fucking good a statement like this does. I voted for BHO and I find it fucking insulting.
Posted by: Econobuzz

Me too!!

Posted by: elouise on August 12, 2009 at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

Does anyone remember how Grassley voted, or what his position was, about the government intervening in the Terry Schaivo situation? Her husband was her legal next of kin with the authority to make decisions about her care. The Republicans drove the bulldozer on taking away that right from a husband in a traditional, opposite gender marriage. He was her family! NOW Grassley says these decisions should be left with the family? What a hypocrite!

Posted by: jpeckjr on August 13, 2009 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

I'm with those who say give up negotiating with Repugs. Obama praises two one day, the next day they stab him in the back.

This is what Repubs DO these days. They are not honorable men/women.

Say to H*#l with them and the Dems pass a bill WITH A PUBLIC OPTION (preferably SINGLE PAYER ONLY) however they have to.

Enough Mr. Nice Guy.

Posted by: clem on August 13, 2009 at 5:30 AM | PERMALINK

I go with the view that Grassley is just a stupid old man who is so confused that all he can do is mouth Republican platitudes. He may be senile, as well.

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