Over the August recess, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), one of the three Republicans engaged in the “Gang of Six” health care negotiations, has repeatedly made public statements that have created deep doubts about his commitment to reaching a bipartisan deal on health care reform. Just yesterday, the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein reported that Grassley sent out a fundraising letter requesting help in his effort to “defeat ‘Obama-care.’”
Now, Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson reports that on a conference call with Iowa radio reporters today, Grassley suggested that the only way to reach a bipartisan compromise would be to first defeat the current Democratic health care proposals:
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says there may be only one path Democrats can take to get Republicans to support for health care reform. “There’s a feeling that the only way to get a bipartisan agreement is to defeat a Democratic proposal on the first hand and then the Democrats will come to Republican leadership and then, at that point, they’ll know the only way they’re going to get health care reform is bipartisan,” Grassley says.
In the past month, Grassley has been all over the place whenever he has attempted to describe how a bipartisan deal can be reached. On August 17, Grassley said that he was unwilling to vote for a “good” bill unless it got support from “more than four Republicans.” Days later, he told the Washington Post that “We ought to be focusing on getting 80 votes.” Last week, he said he wouldn’t vote for an “imperfect bill.”
Grassley has also repeatedly changed his “make-or-break issues” for a compromise. On August 19, he told National Review that he needed “no public option, no rationing, no government bureaucrats getting between doctors and patients, and tort reform.” The next day, he expanded the list in an interview with NPR, making it “No public option, no pay-or-play, no things that are going to lead to any rationing of health care, no interference with doctor-patient relationships, and tort reform.” In an interview with the AP yesterday, Grassley said that on instructions from the GOP, he has sought “no public option, no rationing and tort reform.”
Roll Call has more of Grassley’s quote, in which he said he was worried that the strategy of defeating Democratic proposals wouldn’t work, so he is continuing to talk to “Max Baucus and other Democrats trying to ward off such a role of the dice”:
“There’s a feeling that the only way to get a bipartisan agreement is to defeat a Democratic proposal in the first hand and then the Democrats will come to Republican leadership. And then at that point, they’ll know the only way they’re going to get health care reform is bipartisan. But my position has been that if that strategy doesn’t work and the Democrats go ahead and establish a public option, for instance, or a play or pay as a way of putting an 8 percent tax on payrolls for people who don’t offer health insurance — and dozens of other bad things — including leading us to Canadian-style single payer plan, then, if the Democrats are successful in doing that, we’ll be stuck with that plan forever,” Grassley told reporters. “So I’ve been taking to Max Baucus and other Democrats trying to ward off such a role of the dice, and ward off any chance that we’d end up with a government-run, federalized health insurance program like Canada has.”