On MSNBC this morning, Norah O’Donnell asked Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, “what needs to be in” a health care reform bill “for it to be bipartisan.” After saying it needs to be paid for, Grassley declared, “We need to make sure that there’s no public option.” When O’Donnell double-checked that Grassley was saying that a public option was a dealbreaker for Republicans, he replied, “Absolutely.” Watch it:
By claiming that a public option would destroy bipartisanship, Grassley is ignoring the preferences of a strong majority of Americans. Earlier this week, a New York Times/CBS News poll found that a public health insurance option (which would lower costs and improve quality) is supported by 72 percent of Americans, including 50 percent of Republicans.
Additionally, Grassley’s antipathy to a public plan flies in the face of his own constituents. In May, the Des Moines Register Iowa Poll found that 56 percent of Iowans support a public plan:
More than half of Iowans support a public health insurance plan, and almost half of the state’s residents who aren’t already insured say they would consider enrolling.
The Des Moines Register Iowa Poll, conducted March 30 to April 1 by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, showed 56 percent of Iowans support creation of a public plan, 37 percent oppose the idea and 7 percent are unsure.
During his press conference yesterday, President Obama indicated that a public option was not “non-negotiable.” In a meeting with Senators yesterday, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel reportedly said that the White House wants a “bipartisan” plan and is “open to alternatives” on the public plan.
The Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky comments that “Republicans have staked their entire opposition to health care reform on attacking and mischaracterizing one of the most popular aspects of health care reform.”
,A spokesperson for Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) tells Greg Sargent that Emanuel was not saying that Obama was willing to drop the public option.