KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Grassley Feels The Heat From Interest Groups, DeMint Becomes A Leading Opposition Voice

The Associated Press/Chicago Tribune reports on interest group activity in Iowa. The AARP recently "announced it is launching an advertising and organizing blitz designed to 'debunk the myths' being offered by health care reform critics. 'We won't stand idle when opponents of health care reform attempt to scare or mislead the American people -- and older Americans in particular -- about what fixing the system really means,' said Bruce Koeppl, AARP Iowa director."

The Iowa Christian Alliance also is "closely watching [Sen. Charles] Grassley," pressuring him to "oppose any sort of public option as part of the final measure," and encouraging members to attend his town hall meetings. "Both [Democratic Sen. Tom] Harkin and Grassley are spending the recess holding town hall meetings, and on one occasion things got noisy. At a weekend town hall Harkin held, backers and critics of the health care effort shouted at each other. Neither has plans to alter their schedule of town meetings, and both have dismissed the fuss"  (Glover, 8/10).

Meanwhile, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., "has quickly emerged as a leading voice of opposition to President Obama's bid to overhaul the American health care system with new or expanded federal government programs," McClatchy reports. "Soft-spoken, slight of physical stature and not even the senior senator in his own state, Jim DeMint wouldn't seem like the most likely choice to fill the role of one-man Obama wrecking crew." But DeMint is widely rated by advocacy groups as "one of the most conservative senators," and he "has used his background as a former marketing firm owner to boil down the complex health care debate into a few pithy, attention-grabbing words."

"In just the last month, DeMint has vowed to make health care Obama's 'Waterloo' and urged conservative activists to help 'break him;' compared the United States under Obama to the 1930's Nazi Germany under Hitler; and cast the heated health care fight as 'a real showdown between socialism and freedom.'" Obama criticized him at a press conference in July, and "the Democratic National Committee launched a TV ad targeting him. 'This is a battle I've been waiting for and hoping for, for years,' DeMint told McClatchy. 'We've got to stop the socialization of medicine. ... We've stirred up a fight'" (Rosen, 8/9).

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