GRASSLEY DEMANDS PERFECTION…. The Wall Street Journal reports on Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, and the man some Democrats are counting on as the key to “bipartisan” health care reform.

“Government is not a competitor, it’s a predator,” he said of the public option that has been embraced by key congressional Democrats. “We’d have 120 million people opt out [of private insurance], then pretty soon everyone is in health care under the government and there’s no competitor.” […]

In an interview, he vowed not to vote for an “imperfect bill” that includes a public option or gives the government too much control over end-of-life issues.

Now, the claim about a public option moving 120 million people out of the private market is patently false. Grassley’s lying, he can’t support that claim, and he knows it. That he’s going around publicly, calling government a “predator,” and repeating obviously false right-wing talking points says a great deal about his commitment to meaningful bipartisan compromise.

But it’s that other point that really stands out. Admittedly, it’s a partial quote, but the WSJ reported that Grassley “vowed” to oppose “imperfect” legislation. And in this case, “imperfection” means a public option that would compete with private plans and government “control over end-of-life issues.”

In what universe is the government seeking “control over end-of-life issues”? The one Grassley is using as a baseless excuse to oppose health care reform.

This “imperfect” line, if accurate, has become par for the course. Liberal Democrats may be in the majority, but if they vow not to vote for an “imperfect bill” — one that excludes a public option, for example — they’re being stubborn ideologues who are unwilling to compromise. If Chuck Grassley makes the same vow from a different direction, he’s a serious lawmaker who can be trusted to negotiate in good faith.

The longer Democrats continue to engage Grassley about reform, the greater the chances of failure. It’s as simple as that. This isn’t complicated — Grassley, like his caucus, opposes reform, and based on what he’s saying publicly, Grassley is practically begging to be dropped from the negotiating process. At this point, there’s no reason to keep bagging one’s head against the Iowan’s wall.

The Finance Committee has the votes to pass a good bill — the kind of bill its chairman supported as recently as April. When lawmakers return to the Hill, it will be time to do just that.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. 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.