THEY WANT TO RUN THE JOINT…. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the cantankerous member of the Gang of Six who spent the summer trashing health care reform, announced that he’s withholding support for the Baucus framework because “there’s no guarantee” that it will remain unchanged.

As the conservative Iowan sees it, after the bill leaves committee, the bill is likely to be altered. Democrats, Grassley said, have not yet “made a commitment” to simply let the Gang of Six write the final bill.

Greg Sargent explained how silly this is.

Grassley’s position really appears to be that a key reason he can’t back the bill now is that Dems haven’t sworn a blood-oath not to do a bill alone later if no bill emerges that can get “broad” Republican support. This amounts to asking Dems to promise in advance to do nothing at all in the event that a “broad” number of Republicans don’t agree to get behind some kind of compromise bill.

By this standard, in order to satisfy Grassley’s definition of true bipartisanship, Dems quite literally must cede all their power and leverage in advance, even as Republicans are refusing en masse to back any proposal that can reasonably be called a compromise. That really is Grassley’s position, with no exaggeration.

Quite right. I’d only add that this position is the same one Sen. Mike Enzi, the conservative Wyoming Republican who’s also been part of the Gang of Six, articulated in late July.

He issued a statement demanding “commitments” from the White House, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi that the Gang of Six bill would be the legislation sent to the president. Objections from other committees and other lawmakers were irrelevant — Enzi wanted assurances that his agreement would be untouched by either chamber.

Grassley and Enzi effectively decided that the entire legislative branch of government has six members — none of whom are liberal, and none of whom represent large, diverse states — who should be solely responsible for overhauling the health care system of the United States.

It’s quite a gang Baucus put together.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

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.