Grassley doubles down on failed gimmick

GRASSLEY DOUBLES DOWN ON FAILED GIMMICK…. Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and David Vitter (R-La.) no doubt thought they were being clever. They crafted an amendment that would force members of Congress to get their coverage through a public insurance plan, if the public option were included as part of health care reform. If it’s good enough for American consumers, it should be good enough for their elected representatives, right?

The plan backfired terribly. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) quickly endorsed the Coburn/Vitter measure, and forced himself onto the amendment as a co-sponsor. To the far-right lawmakers’ chagrin, several other Democratic senators — Mikulski, Dodd, and Franken — followed suit. The whole thing became something of an embarrassment to the Republican senators who just wanted to pull a little p.r. stunt anyway.

(I should note, a few different Fox News personalities have claimed on the air that no Democratic senators “wanted to give up” their current health insurance “to join onto a public option.” That’s the exact opposite of reality.)

With the failure of last week’s gimmick in mind, some Republicans have decided to double down, this time with an executive-branch twist.

Senate Republicans opposed to a public health-insurance option intend to introduce an amendment Monday that would require not just members of Congress to enroll in any such plan — but also the president, vice president, cabinet officials and all political staff. […]

“The White House and cabinet secretaries are working very hard for this massive overhaul of America’s health care system,” [Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa] said in a statement to HuffPost. “It’s only fair that if this bill becomes law, these individuals should themselves be subject to the reforms.”

Oh how I wish there were a grown-up or two in the Republican cloakroom. Some adult supervision is clearly needed.

Think about what Grassley is saying here. In effect, the argument is, “Democrats want consumers to be able to choose between competing public and private plans. Therefore, the president and his cabinet should not be able to choose between competing public and private plans.”

I don’t expect much from Grassley, but this is gibberish.

Naturally, Coburn, who tried to block Democrats from endorsing his measure last week, invited Democrats to sign onto the even-dumber scheme this week.

It’s also worth remembering that this and the entire slate of GOP amendments is inherently foolish — they’ve already decided to oppose health care reform, no matter what’s in it. So why bother? Because they’re playing stupid games rather than legislating.

For the record, President Obama was asked in July whether he would accept coverage through a public plan. He replied, “You know, I would be happy to abide by the same benefit package. I will just be honest with you — I’m the President of the United States, so I’ve got a doctor following me every minute. Which is why I say this is not about me. I’ve got the best health care in the world. I’m trying to make sure that everybody has good health care — and they don’t right now.”