Prior to the outbreak of Tea Partiers in August 2009, the Senate Banking Committee had completed their version of the health care bill, and it included a public option. The same was true of the the three House committees with jurisdiction over the bill. All that remained was for the Senate Finance Committee to complete their end of the deal. But, as the administration had known from the winter, there were Democratic holdouts on the Finance Committee and absolutely no Republicans to make up for them. Basically, there were Democrats who would not vote for a bill that had no Republican support. That’s why so much effort was made to court committee members Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
The problem? They not only opposed the public option, they opposed the entire bill. In Grassley’s case, he wasn’t fighting on any principle, but because he didn’t want to stick his neck out.
Just before [Grassley] returned to Iowa, he met with [Nancy] DeParle for another strategy session.
“If we do everything and resolve all the policy issues the way you want, with no public plan, do you think you’ll be able to support the bill?”
Grassley looked away. “I don’t know.”
Grassley went to the Oval Office for a similar conversation with the president and his fellow Republican and Democratic negotiators. He asked Obama to say publicly that he would sign a bill without a public option of a government-run plan. Grassley believed this would be a reasonable, minimal demonstration of Obama’s desire for a bipartisan deal. But the president declined to confront his own party base so explicitly. Obama asked Grassley the same question DeParle had posed: With every concession he wanted, could he support the bill?
“Why not?” asked an exasperated Obama.
“Because I’d have to have a number of Republicans,” said Grassley. “I’m not going to be the third of three Republicans. I’ve defined a bipartisan bill as broad-based support.”
So, we had a handful of Democrats who wouldn’t stick their necks out to support a public option without significant Republican support, and a handful of Republicans who wouldn’t support any bill at all without significant Republican support. That’s what the president faced in the lead-up to the August recess. And, remember, the president did not have 60 votes until late September (and that only lasted until January).
That’s what the Party of No Strategy was able to accomplish. Then Grassley went home to Iowa and covered himself in glory.
Americans should be scared of provisions in a health care bill currently in the U.S. House because it will allow the government to have a say in end-of-life decisions, Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley told a crowd of more than 300 Wednesday morning.
“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”
The conspiracy theory of the government deciding who lives and dies has been making the rounds of late, gaining momentum after former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin posted a message on her Facebook saying President Obama’s health care plan might kill her child who was born with Down Syndrome.
The portion of the House health care bill in question was written by Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia. It would require Medicare to pay for end-of-life counseling sessions, which would be voluntary. Isakson told The Washington Post that it is “nuts” that anyone would look at the language of the bill and conclude it promotes euthanasia.
His punishment? He was reelected with 65% of the vote. Six More Years!