As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Grassley Maneuver

So, here's how this went. Chuck Grassley, who has in his history shown absolutely no indication of being a moderate in the US Senate, by virtue of seniority and the bold leadership of Captain Ineffective Max Baucus, somehow has a position of prominence on health care reform. And most recently, he's used it to claim that the end-of-life counseling benefit in Medicare in the House bill would "pull the plug on Grandma," furthering the intent of the paranoids who want to block any reform. He blew this up so much in an already overheated debate that the Senate Finance Committee reportedly dropped that provision from their version of the bill. And after that was completed, after the Twitter fight with Arlen Specter and all the rest, Grassley decides to completely retract the statement.

The retraction was buried deep in this Washington Post article on Grassley’s role, with a spokesperson admitting Grassley doesn’t really believe what he said about “grandma”:

Grassley says he opposes that counseling as written in the House version of the bill, but a spokesman said the senator does not think the House provision would in fact give the government such authority in deciding when and how people die. The House bill allows patients to decide for themselves if they would like such counseling.

Let’s be clear: By clarifying that Grassley doesn’t think the House bill would “give the government such authority in deciding when and how people die,” his spokesperson completely repudiated his widely discussed claim. This goes much farther than Grassley did in a statement released Friday clarifying he’d never used the words “death panel” and was merely worried about “unintended consequences.”

So Grassley made a wild and unsubstantiated charge, got an untold number of people riled up about it, excised it from his bill, and then admitted the whole thing was a lie. But none of this matters now, considering the damage done, and the retraction won't even get much attention.

Welcome to the American political system.

...Also, the key negotiator on the Senate Finance Committee will vote no on a plan even if he gets everything he wants, as long as other Republicans don't go along with it.

Keep negotiating with crazy and see how that works out.

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