The words of a reform opponent

THE WORDS OF A REFORM OPPONENT…. If I didn’t know better, I might think Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) — ostensibly the leading GOP negotiators on health care reform — doesn’t really want a bill.

Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, one of three Senate Republicans negotiating on health care, said the soaring federal budget deficit “puts a stake in the heart” of $1 trillion measures being considered by lawmakers.

Grassley, the top Republican on the finance committee, said a bipartisan plan being discussed by panel members will have to be scaled back to have any chance of passing in the wake of new deficit projections released this week. […]

“It’s going to have a big impact on whether I’ll even support something,” he said at a town-hall meeting Aug. 26 in Le Mars, Iowa.

This doesn’t make any sense. Literally, none. It’s possible that Grassley, after nearly three decades in the Senate, doesn’t understand the basics of budgets and public policy, but I think it’s more likely that he opposes health care reform and is looking for an excuse. After all, as a substantive matter, Grassley has the entire situation backwards — reform wouldn’t add to the deficit, and if long-term debt were his top concern, he’d be an enthusiastic proponent of the Democratic proposal.

Grassley’s comments aren’t the words of someone worried about deficit projections. Grassley’s comments are the words of someone who wants to kill health care reform.

I’m tempted to ask Max Baucus to write 100 times on the chalkboard, “Chuck Grassley does not support health care reform. Chuck Grassley does not support health care reform. Chuck Grassley does not support health care reform.”

What more would the guy have to do? Grassley wants to drive a stake into the heart of the reform bill, for reasons that defy common sense. He doesn’t think he can reach an agreement with the administration. If he thinks the bill is “imperfect,” he won’t vote for it. He’s prepared to vote against his own compromise bill, and as of this week, it’s doubtful he’ll “even support something.”

What more is there to talk about with Chuck Grassley?