Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 25, 2009

GRASSLEY DEMANDS PERFECTION.... The Wall Street Journal reports on Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, and the man some Democrats are counting on as the key to "bipartisan" health care reform.

"Government is not a competitor, it's a predator," he said of the public option that has been embraced by key congressional Democrats. "We'd have 120 million people opt out [of private insurance], then pretty soon everyone is in health care under the government and there's no competitor." [...]

In an interview, he vowed not to vote for an "imperfect bill" that includes a public option or gives the government too much control over end-of-life issues.

Now, the claim about a public option moving 120 million people out of the private market is patently false. Grassley's lying, he can't support that claim, and he knows it. That he's going around publicly, calling government a "predator," and repeating obviously false right-wing talking points says a great deal about his commitment to meaningful bipartisan compromise.

But it's that other point that really stands out. Admittedly, it's a partial quote, but the WSJ reported that Grassley "vowed" to oppose "imperfect" legislation. And in this case, "imperfection" means a public option that would compete with private plans and government "control over end-of-life issues."

In what universe is the government seeking "control over end-of-life issues"? The one Grassley is using as a baseless excuse to oppose health care reform.

This "imperfect" line, if accurate, has become par for the course. Liberal Democrats may be in the majority, but if they vow not to vote for an "imperfect bill" -- one that excludes a public option, for example -- they're being stubborn ideologues who are unwilling to compromise. If Chuck Grassley makes the same vow from a different direction, he's a serious lawmaker who can be trusted to negotiate in good faith.

The longer Democrats continue to engage Grassley about reform, the greater the chances of failure. It's as simple as that. This isn't complicated -- Grassley, like his caucus, opposes reform, and based on what he's saying publicly, Grassley is practically begging to be dropped from the negotiating process. At this point, there's no reason to keep bagging one's head against the Iowan's wall.

The Finance Committee has the votes to pass a good bill -- the kind of bill its chairman supported as recently as April. When lawmakers return to the Hill, it will be time to do just that.

Steve Benen 1:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (20)

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Comments

It's much worse than end-of-life intrusion! It's also afterlife intrusion! I heard Obama is going to require passage into Heaven having a lithmus test attached to it! Acorn is going to be in charge of "The List"! For starters Red Staters can forget it. You're toast. Eternal toast. Haaa, haaa, haaaa!!!!!

Posted by: steve duncan on August 25, 2009 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK
We'd have 120 million people opt out [of private insurance], then pretty soon everyone is in health care under the government and there's no competitor.

Sen. Chuck "Smoking Some" Grassley

To which anyone with a brain should respond:

So what?!

If the government can provide health care to all, with better outcomes, and less cost, SO ... FUCKING ... WHAT?

The fact people like Grassley don't give a damn about his fellow Americans isn't surprising - he's a Republican, and unless you're rich or a corporation, they don't care.

But the fact Obama and Dems think he's willing to help makes me wonder if they actually care about helping out our nation.

Time will tell ...

Posted by: Mark D on August 25, 2009 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Grassley is what's known as a weasel. I don't know if he's afraid of the lunatics in his own party or genuinely opposes reform. In either case, he's demonstrated that he's not worth the time. Move on and let's get it done.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on August 25, 2009 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Gang of Six predator

Grassley, the Finance Committee's ranking Republican, received more than $2 million from the health and insurance sectors since 2003.

Had enough of the gang yet?

Posted by: koreyel on August 25, 2009 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Grassley Translation: 100 Senate votes or no bill!

Posted by: TonyB on August 25, 2009 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Grassley says something stupid. Michael Steele says something stupid. Vitter says something stupid. American Spectator says something stupid. Lieberman says something stupid. And that's just today.

*yawn*

Posted by: clonus on August 25, 2009 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Bill Maher is right. America is stupid, especially "Red America", and stupid people will stupidly elect stupid officials who wear ignorance and stupidity as badges of honor.

When I was returning home to Honolulu last week from a business trip to Alabama, I dutifully showed my Hawaii driver's license to the TSA official at the Birmingham Airport, who thereupon asked to see my Hawaii passport. When I told him Hawaii has been a state of the United States for 50 years (the golden anniversary of its admission was last Friday, no less), I was delayed for a few minutes while he confirmed my contention with his superior.

Now, this is the second time this has happened to me at a U.S. airport in the last 18 months; the first time was in Midland, Texas.

My question for Barack Obama is this: Why negotiate with morons? A majority of Republicans don't even believe in evolution.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on August 25, 2009 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

This is what Paul Krugman called "zombie Reaganism" the other day -- the conviction that government is always the problem, no matter what it does, no matter whether it can clearly do something better than the private sector. Government involvement is always evil because it's always evil.

Posted by: T-Rex on August 25, 2009 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK


Typical GOP double standard: Democrats have to get everything right, but Republicans only have to get one thing right

Posted by: Lab Partner on August 25, 2009 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Given Grassley's comments, I expect a proclamation from Martha's Vineyard later today that the administration looks forward to working with Senator Grassley to craft that "perfect" bill upon everyone's return to Washington.

What a bunch of crap. Grassley's already said he'll vote against any bill, even one he supports.

Posted by: Doctor Whom on August 25, 2009 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats have to get everything right, but Republicans only have to get one thing right

What is the one thing they have to get right? Many visible Republicans get everything wrong, which somehow makes them experts.

Posted by: qwerty on August 25, 2009 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

"Government is not a competitor, it's a predator," he said of the public option that has been embraced by key congressional Democrats.

Senator Grassley was rather ill advise to introduce the term 'predator' into the health care reform discussion. Because the way the US health care system currently is set up, there indeed is such an animal, but it's the private health insurance companies. And the American public knows that.

Posted by: SRW1 on August 25, 2009 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK


"What is the one thing they have to get right?"

Working the Ref

Posted by: Lab Partner on August 25, 2009 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK
based on what he's saying publicly, Grassley is practically begging to be dropped from the negotiating process. At this point, there's no reason to keep bagging [sic] one's head against the Iowan's wall.
Well, I'll have to defer to a wiser political mind than I:
I can only assume that Grassley doesn't want to be part of reform negotiations anymore, and is working on getting himself kicked out of the talks. If he keeps moving further to the right, and Dems eventually decide to cut their losses with this guy, Grassley gets to have it both ways -- he'll tell moderates, "I invested months of time and energy in bipartisan reform negotiations," and he'll tell the right, "I stuck up for conservative principles and Democrats refused to listen."
If Grassley wants out, then by all means, keep him locked in. Baucus has already signaled that the Finance Committee is not going to produce a serious bill. Why let Grassley off now? Keep him in play, let him continue to say the sort of things that get the left's blood riled up, and maybe we can energize enough to push a good bill. Also, he's doing a nice job laying the groundwork for President Obama's eventual decision to "go it alone" with just Democratic votes. I mean, if the chief Republican negotiator is talking about torpedoing his own committee's bill while working on it, it makes it pretty apparent that the GOP has never had any intention of solving any problems and have just been trying to scuttle health care reform in its entirety. Posted by: Bernard HP Gilroy on August 25, 2009 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

he vowed not to vote for an "imperfect bill"

Why is it that nobody asked Grassley what he would consider a perfect bill to be? Isn't this an obvious follow up question?

Posted by: Jinchi on August 25, 2009 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Lab Partner decries a double standard for republicans!

Wrong! Very Wrong! Totally Wrong!

For republicans and the corporate media there is not a separate set of standards for republicans and democrats.

For democrats, there is a set of standards that have been defined by the republicans.

For republicans, there are no standards.

Posted by: AmusedOldVet on August 25, 2009 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

mudwall jackson @ 1:31:

grassley (referred to as "scmuck assley" on stephanie miller's show the other day) truly is afraid of the right wing of his party. iowa republicans are all nuts!

Posted by: mellowjohn on August 25, 2009 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Can we apply antitrust provisions to the public option like we would to private insurers? Specifically saying that a public insurance plan cannot cover more than, say 50% of a given market without triggering more oversight. That would protect against a complete government takeover. Of course, I would want to also say that a single PRIVATE insurer cannot cover more than a similar share of the market.

Posted by: KP on August 25, 2009 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Grassley is a public liar. "Control over end of life decisions" he has admitted knowing is a lie and still spews it to cause confusion and justification for the willfully ignorant to scream about HC. He's despicable and anyone with an eye on this guy should know he is no longer an honest rep. of the public...but is a blatant willful liar.

It's embarrassing to Baucus and Obama to even suggest Grassley should be included in HC reform. He now is just a heckler.

Posted by: bjobotts on August 25, 2009 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps if Government is such a predator, Sen. Grassley should resign from it.

Posted by: short fuse on August 25, 2009 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK
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