The familiarity of Grayson’s rhetoric

THE FAMILIARITY OF GRAYSON’S RHETORIC…. It seems freshman Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) has sparked something of a controversy with a speech on the House floor last night.

Republicans are pouncing on a late-night House floor speech from Rep. Alan Grayson, during which the freshman Florida Democrat said the Republican health care plan calls for sick people to “die quickly.”

“It’s a very simple plan,” Grayson said in the speech Tuesday night. “Don’t get sick. That’s what the Republicans have in mind. And if you get sick America, the Republican health care plan is this: die quickly.”

The after-hours speech, which included prominent banners behind the congressman to reinforce his point, drew immediate calls from some Republicans for an apology.

“That is about the most mean-spirited partisan statement that I’ve ever heard made on this floor, and I, for one, don’t appreciate it,” Tennessee Republican Rep. Jimmy Duncan told the Politico.

Conservatives are up in arms; GOP offices are going after Grayson with a vengeance; and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) is introducing a House resolution to condemn the Florida Democrat, who has quickly developed a reputation for shooting from the hip.

Igor Volsky had a good piece on the substance of Grayson’s remarks: “No Republican wants Americans to die, but the party’s efforts to stonewall meaningful health care reform perpetuate a status quo in which 45,000 Americans die every year because they lack health care coverage and thousands more see their policies canceled or denied by private insurers that are beholden to Wall Street’s profit expectations and not patient health. Grayson intentionally over-stated his case. It’s not that Republicans want to kill people; it’s that their opposition to meaningful health care reform and their “free market” alternatives would further deregulate insurers and allow companies to continue pushing individuals into high deductible policies that don’t provide adequate coverage and actually harm Americans who can’t afford their medical bills.”

As for the politics, isn’t it a little late in the game for congressional Republican to feign outrage about death-related rhetoric? Ryan Grim noted this morning, “[C]harges that the opposition’s health care plan will kill people have been about as common on the House floor lately as resolutions naming post offices.”

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Fla.) said Dem plans would tell seniors to “drop dead.” Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) said Democratic plans for a public option would “kill people.” Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) said Dems’ proposals might “put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government.” Plenty of other House Republicans have made similar remarks, and not one of them has every apologized. House Democrats haven’t even asked.

Grayson may have been deliberately provocative to highlight a larger point, but if “die quickly” is beyond the pale, the GOP should probably start lining up now, asking for forgiveness for months of dishonest fear-mongering.