Last week, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) seeded deep doubts about his commitment to reaching a bipartisan deal on health care reform when he lent credibility to the flagrantly false claim that proposed legislation might “pull the plug on grandma.” He further eroded trust in his ability to negotiate in good faith when he told MSNBC that he wouldn’t support legislation in which he got everything he wanted unless a significant number of Republicans also supported it.
But Grassley doesn’t appear to realize that his actions and comments are driving reform advocates to conclude that he’s “trying to undermine the reform effort.” In an interview with the conservative National Review yesterday, Grassley claimed that he was “losing patience with Democrats”:
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa — the top Republican negotiator in the “Gang of Six,” the group of Senate Finance Committee members that is trying to hammer out bipartisan health-care legislation — tells NRO that he’s losing patience with Democrats, who earlier this week signaled that they were ready to abandon hopes for a compromise. “I won’t walk away,” Grassley says, “but if I’m pushed away, I’ll be on the Senate floor trying to kill bad amendments and get good amendments adopted.”
Appearing on Fox News last night, Grassley claimed that he hasn’t “said anything new since we adjourned for the summer break”:
VAN SUSTEREN: Senator Grassley joins us live. Good evening, Senator. And is there little hope of a bipartisan deal, sir?
GRASSLEY: I haven’t given up yet, and I haven’t said anything new since we adjourned for the summer break that I’ve been saying for the last three months. So for the White House to draw any conclusions other than what I’ve told the president right to his face — and I’ve said a couple things that are very important, and I’ve said them before. I’ve told him for several weeks that, number one, it would really help get bipartisanship if he would make a statement that he would sign a bill that didn’t have a public option, or what some of us call a government-run health plan, in it.
Though Grassley is claiming that he hasn’t said “anything new” since the August recess began, he told the Washington Post yesterday that he thinks “lawmakers should consider drastically scaling back the scope” of reform. Grassley claims his call to “slow up” and scale down reform is “a natural outcome of what people may be getting from the town hall meetings,” which Grassley credits himself with creating.
,Commenting on the Washington Post interview, Ezra Klein remarks that Grassley has given up the game: “So that’s it then. A bipartisan bill is a smaller bill. The search for compromise hasn’t led to a compromise bill. Rather, it’s leading to a call for compromising on what was supposed to be the compromise.”