Look how Grassley repays Obama's compliments (updated)
by desmoinesdem, Wed Aug 12, 2009 at 12:27:46 PM EDT
At yesterday's town-hall meeting in New Hampshire, President Barack Obama had nice things to say about Senator Chuck Grassley:
"Now, I think that there are some of my Republican friends on Capitol Hill who are sincerely trying to figure out if they can find a health care bill that works -- Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Olympia Snowe from Maine have been -- yes, I got to admit I like Olympia, too. They are diligently working to see if they can come up with a plan that could get both Republican and Democratic support."
In addition, Thomas Beaumont of the Des Moines Register noticed that Organizing for America is not mobilizing Obama's supporters to show up at Grassley's town-hall meetings in Iowa. Instead, Organizing for America is trying to drive turnout to events hosted by Iowa's Democrats in Congress.
Grassley's holding four public events today, and @iahealthreform is helpfully liveblogging them on Twitter. Look at how Grassley talks about health care reform and tell me whether Obama should praise Grassley's efforts.
Grassley told a crowd in Afton that the U.S. has the best health care system in the world and that he won't "nationize healthcare" or "do anything that allows Washington between a doctor and you." Grassley also claimed that Obama "is pursuing a partisan bill." While in Winterset, Grassley promoted the latest bogus Republican talking point about killing Granny.
Yes, he went there. Iowa Independent has more:
"In the House bill, there is counseling for end of life," Grassley said. "You have every right to fear. You shouldn't have counseling at the end of life, you should have done that 20 years before. Should not have a government run plan to decide when to pull the plug on grandma"
A few hours later in Panora, Grassley did it again:
I don't want the government involved in end of life decisions. I'm not going to decide to plug the plug on grandma.
Never mind that even Republican Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia has denounced this paranoid reading of a provision that "empowers you to be able to make decisions at a difficult time rather than having the government making them for you." Never mind that the Iowa legislature has already passed (with bipartisan support) a provision to encourage people to create living wills.
Grassley's involvement in health care negotiations cannot improve whatever bill emerges. He could be negotiating in bad faith so that delays prevent Democrats from passing health care reform through budget reconciliation. (Grassley told the Panora crowd that he's in negotiations, but "things can fall apart at any time.")
Alternatively, Grassley could be negotiating in good faith to produce a bipartisan bill with no meaningful public option. An individual mandate to buy overpriced private insurance, with no public plan to compete, would be a gravy train for private insurers. I agree with Daniel De Groot that the failure of Grassley and other conservatives to oppose an individual mandate shows what an "utter sham and fraud" movement conservatism is.
It's past time for the president to stop praising the Republicans whom Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus is bending over backwards to accommodate. No matter how many nice things Obama says about Grassley, Grassley will repeat Frank Luntz's talking points on health care and keep trying to move the bill to the right.
What Chris Bowers wrote two months ago is still true:
the goal of health care legislation is to reduce the cost of health care and increase access to health care. By contrast, the goal of bipartisanship is to get Democrats and Republicans to agree with each other. Those are different goals with no inherent connection. [...]
The purpose of bipartisanship is so that, in the event that you pass legislation that is unpopular and / or does not end up working, then it is impossible to take all of the blame for it.
That is the purpose of bipartisanship in health care reform legislation. Not reducing costs or increasing access.
Obama should start drawing lines in the sand. If the president wants "a health care bill that works," he should be clear about what that bill must contain. Hoping for some Republican votes isn't going to cut it.
UPDATE: At Bleeding Heartland I posted statements from Congressman Bruce Braley and the Iowa Senate Democrats on Grassley's remarks today. It turns out that Grassley's grandson, State Representative Pat Grassley, was part of the huge bipartisan majority in the Iowa legislature that approved House File 2539 in 2008. That bill included an "end-of-life care" provision that you can read here.
In this section the Iowa Department of Public Health was directed to consult with various medical and advocacy organizations to develop educational and patient-centered information on end-of-life care for terminally ill patients and health care professionals. It also directed the Iowa Department of Elder Affairs to develop a long-term care options public education campaign.