Senator Grassley Spooked by Town Hallers — Even Senator Snowe Does the Walk Back

The Washington Post is reporting that Senator Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, has been convinced by his August recess experience to stand-down on broad spectrum health care reform.

This means Obamacare can never, ever — not ever — get 60 votes in the Senate, because Senator Grassley’s agreement would have put enormous pressure on the moderate Democratic Senators.

Now, Senator Grassley is supporting a narrower measure.

The key reporting elements of the Washington Post story follows:

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, a key Republican negotiator in the quest for bipartisan health-care reform, said Wednesday that the outpouring of anger at town hall meetings this month has fundamentally altered the nature of the debate and convinced him that lawmakers should consider drastically scaling back the scope of the effort.

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.”

“Not just on health care, but on a lot of other things Congress has done this year, people are signaling that we ought to slow up and find out where we are and don’t spend so much money and don’t get us so far into debt,” he said in a telephone interview between stops in Iowa Falls and Ames, where he has been leading foreign diplomats on a week-long tour of the state. The Finance Committee group is still discussing a “comprehensive” plan for extending coverage to millions of uninsured families, he said, but revisiting that approach would be “a natural outcome of what people may be getting from the town hall meetings.”

As the senior Republican on the Finance Committee, Grassley has the potential to attract GOP votes by giving his blessing to a bill, and congressional Democrats and the White House consider him the key to winning bipartisan support for President Obama’s top domestic priority. In recent days, however, some Democrats have accused Grassley of trying to undermine the reform effort, for example by refusing to debunk rumors that the Democratic health bills would create “death panels” empowered to decide whether the infirm live or die.

On Wednesday, he denied those claims and fired back at Obama, saying the president should publicly state his willingness to sign a bill without a controversial government-run insurance plan. Such a statement, he said, is “pretty important . . . if you’re really interested in a bipartisan bill.”


On Wednesday, Grassley made clear that he remains committed to pursuing a health-care bill, provided it does not “make things worse” for people who are happy with their insurance or add to swollen budget deficits. His remarks echoed those of other key Republicans — including Sens. Olympia J. Snowe (Maine) and Mike Enzi (Wyo.), the other GOP negotiators on the finance panel — as well as some Democrats, who are quietly urging Obama and congressional leaders to lower their expectations for what can be accomplished this year in the interest of building momentum for future reform.

Enzi, who said he could support a larger measure, said in an e-mail message that it would be more “effective” to break the bill into parts. Snowe, who is being courted by administration officials, said she told Obama in a White House meeting this month that he should take a more “practical approach” toward reform legislation that “doesn’t so transform the system that it undercuts what is best about our existing health-care system.”

“If there’s anything we’ve learned during the course of this August recess,” Snowe said in a telephone interview Wednesday, “it’s that there are many people who are satisfied with their health insurance. And that’s important. And we want to make sure it stays that way.”

If you read the subtext of this article, one thing is clear: no one believes President Obama’s promise that if you like your health plan, you can keep it.

Amazingly, the American public has clearly decided that President Obama is a simply not being truthful about what his plan does or his intentions.

The public is on to this falsehood, and have forced the moderate Senators to face the fact that President Obama is not being truthful nor is he keeping his campaign promise.   And now the moderates are backing off — big time.

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