Stop pretending Grassley is serious about reform

STOP PRETENDING GRASSLEY IS SERIOUS ABOUT REFORM…. Ladies and gentlemen, I present you with the leading Republican lawmaker negotiating a “compromise” on health care reform.

One of the three Republican senators working on a bipartisan health care bill perpetuated a particularly outrageous untruth about the legislation on Wednesday.

Appearing at a town hall in his home state of Iowa, Sen. Chuck Grassley told a crowd of more than 300 that they were correct to fear that the government would “pull the plug on grandma.”

“There is some fear because in the House bill, there is counseling for end-of-life,” Grassley said. “And from that standpoint, you have every right to fear. You shouldn’t have counseling at the end of life. You ought to have counseling 20 years before you’re going to die. You ought to plan these things out. And I don’t have any problem with things like living wills. But they ought to be done within the family. We should not have a government program that determines if you’re going to pull the plug on grandma.”

Just yesterday, President Obama described Chuck Grassley as one of his “Republican friends on Capitol Hill” who is “sincerely trying to figure out if they can find a health care bill that works.” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) recently said of Grassley that he “couldn’t ask for a better partner” in working towards reform.

Obama and Baucus are wrong; and negotiating with Grassley in good faith is a mistake.

Grassley isn’t serious about reform. Not at all. Seriously. He’s proven this again and again. It’s time to stop trying. Grassley will only let down reform advocates in the end.

Update: Joe Klein on Grassley’s comments: “[H]e either (a) hasn’t the vaguest notion of what’s in the bill or (b) he is so intimidated by the ditto-head-brown-shirts that he is trying to fudge a response to keep them happy. Either way, he should be ashamed. And once has to wonder about the fate of the Senate Finance Committee deliberations if this is what the Administration is dealing with.”

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.