Grassley’s Very Dumb Comment on Health Care Reform

Yesterday I noted both very good and very bad things from Chuck Grassley on health care legislation. He has made another statement to add to the very bad list:

After being besieged by protesters at meetings across his home state of Iowa, Grassley said he has concluded that the public has rejected the far-reaching proposals Democrats have put on the table, viewing them as overly expensive precursors to “a government takeover of health care.”

Besides the usual conservative mischaracterization of health care reform as a government takeover of health care, Grassley is being absurd in giving this justification for his conclusion. A tiny number of people organized by the insurance industry and far right groups are making a lot of noise at town hall meetings. This cannot be taken as representative of public opinion. Even where public opinion shows a decline in support for health care reform, this is based upon belief in the misinformation being spread and not the content of the actual legislation. Grassley should realize that the protests of the far right are not representative of his constituents or of the country.

Conservatives think they are killing health care reform. They may or may not turn out to be right, but I fear the real casualty will be this type of open discussion of the issues. During the Bush years town halls were a sham as only conservative true believers were allowed to attend. The Obama administration has tried to hold open meetings to truly discuss the issues. The manner in which right wingers pack and disrupt the meetings has limited their value and I wonder whether government leaders will want to risk holding open meetings of this type in the future. That would be an unfortunate outcome for democracy.

So we have here another victory for the authoritarian right.

McCain the Non-Maverick

The campaign ads which proclaimed that John McCain was a maverick were a bit of a stretch and he tried to hide the degree to which he had adopted the agenda of the far right on most issues. CQ Politics now notes how McCain is no maverick, now siding with the Republicans even more often than at any time during his career.

Health Care Reform Might Be Split into Two Bills

Once again, following the blogs has given the first hint of something to make the news. I recently cited bloggers discussing a change of strategy on passing health care reform–dividing the legislation into two parts and use budget reconciliation to pass part. The Wall Street Journal now discusses this possibility:

Most legislation in the Senate requires 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, but certain budget-related measures can pass with 51 votes through a parliamentary maneuver called reconciliation.

In recent days, Democratic leaders have concluded they can pack more of their health overhaul plans under this procedure, congressional aides said. They might even be able to include a public insurance plan to compete with private insurers, a key demand of the party’s liberal wing, but that remains uncertain.

Other parts of the Democratic plan would be put to a separate vote in the Senate, including most of the insurance regulations that have been central to Mr. Obama’s health-care message.

That bill would likely set new rules for insurers, such as requiring they accept anyone, regardless of pre-existing medical conditions. This portion of the health-care overhaul has already drawn some Republican support and wouldn’t involve new spending, leading Democratic leaders to believe they could clear the 60-vote hurdle…

Privately, those involved in the talks now say there is a 60% chance the split-bill tactic will be used. Mr. Obama is huddling with aides next week, and Senate leaders are likely to review their options when Congress reconvenes after Labor Day.