Republicans Look To Keep August Heat On In September, Grassley Questioned
Republicans hoping to continue their efforts to win public support against a public plan in health care reform pledge to keep their steam in September while Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley's position on the public option is assailed by liberals.
Politico: "For congressional Republicans, July was all about hoping the summer recess would come before the Democrats could pass a health care bill. August, says (Georgia Republican Rep. Jack) Kingston, was about having 'as many town hall meetings as possible in order to educate the public, to keep this momentum up.' Now it's September, and the focus will shift back to Washington, where House Democrats are awaiting action from the Senate while trying to reconcile three competing bills of their own" (Libit, 9/1).
To keep up the pressure, the GOP is targeting seniors with a new television ad, Politico reports in a second story: "The ad, set to run in Florida and on the national cable networks, attacks the Democratic plan for cutting Medicare spending and asserts the plan would ration health care and allow the government to make decisions in end of life care. 'When you disagree with Washington, how come they act like it's your problem?' RNC Chairman Michael Steele asks at the beginning of the ad. 'That's what the Democrats have done with health care. They say you're the problem.' The ad is part of the RNC's pitch for its six-part health care plan for seniors, which the committee rolled out last week" (Barr, 9/1).
Steele reiterated his pledge to ABC News to not support Medicare benefit cuts but "acknowledged that he and other Republicans do support finding savings in Medicare as part of broader entitlement reform. 'You've got to deal with those inefficiencies, absolutely,' he said" (Klein, 8/31).
The Associated Press in the meantime is reporting that Grassley hopes limited reforms can pass, but reiterated his own pledge that a government-run public option won't be part of the Senate Finance Committee package. He also told the AP that he is "still hopeful" but this feeling is based on an expectation that reforms will be "a little less sweeping than what we talked about before." Through August, Grassley has been critical of public option, "but went a step further Monday in saying the core group of senators agreed such a provision would not be in a bill. 'It's pretty clear that's something not on the table,' Grassley said. 'It's fair to say that not every one of the six is opposed to it, but they realize the reality of it.' He declined to be precise about what he could accept" (Glover, 8/31).
Meanwhile, Grassley is facing fire for his opposition to the public option, Roll Call reports: "A Democratic interest group on Monday launched a television ad campaign targeting Senate Finance ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) over his opposition to a public insurance option, signaling that the fight over health care reform is far from over. Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a political action committee, has put very little funding ($25,000) behind the one-minute spot, which is slated for a limited run on broadcast and cable television in Iowa and on cable only in Washington, D.C. " (Drucker, 8/31).
The Christian Science Monitor has more on Grassley: "An August fundraising letter by Sen. Charles Grassley (R) of Iowa, which has just entered Washington's radar, asks for support in helping him defeat 'Obama-care.' He likens that to the more liberal versions of reform that have passed panels in the House and Senate, not what he has been working on in his committee. But the language in his letter is so harsh that it seems close to shutting the door on negotiations with Democrats. 'The simple truth is that I am and always have been opposed to the Obama administration's plans to nationalize healthcare,' says the letter, a fundraising appeal for Senator Grassley's reelection bid that could include a challenge in the GOP primary" (Feldmann, 8/31).