Grassley Strikes Back At Obama, Other Strong Personalities Emerging In Health Debate
Several newspapers had articles about major congressional players in the health care debate.
The Associated Press reports that Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, says President Barack Barack Obama has "'got nerve' to go sightseeing in Paris while telling lawmakers it's time to deliver on a health care overhaul." Grassley, "the top Republican on the Finance Committee," used Twitter to send "two angry 'tweets' Sunday morning as the president wrapped up an oversees tour." Obama has "inserted himself firmly" into the health care debate recently, including in his weekly radio address on Sunday. "Grassley's attitude is significant because any hope for bipartisan consensus on health care rests on an alliance between Grassley and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont." (Werner, 6/7).
Roll Call reports that Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the ranking member of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, "said now is not the time to do a massive health care plan." During an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," Shelby "said he remained skeptical that a reform plan will work given all the recent government spending and looming deficits." Shelby also "warned Americans that more government involvement and, in particular, competition with private enterprise, in the nation's health care system could end up hurting Americans' medical care" (Ackley, 6/7). CQ adds that Shelby told Fox that a health care overhaul "will be the first steps in destroying the best health care system the world has ever known" (CQ staff, 6/7).
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel profiles Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Obey is a passionate supporter of a health care overhaul, stemming from family health experiences. At one time, Obey said he would not retire until Congress passed universal coverage. "Because of the influence that he wields over the federal budget, Obey is one of several lawmakers likely to play key roles in determining whether Democratic attempts to revamp health care succeed or suffer the same fate they did a decade and a half ago" (Marrero, 6/6).
The Quad-City Times has an article on Sen. Tom Harkin, D- Iowa, "who was present for the ill-fated attempt to reform health care in the 1990s," but who has "confidently predicted that Congress will get the job done this year." Harkin is "leaning toward an individual mandate" and "guaranteed there will be a public option," although he "conceded later there is little consensus on what it will be" (Lynch, 6/6).
The Wall Street Journal reports that "the future shape of the U.S. health-care system could hang on the uncertain health of one very prominent American" Sen. Edward Kennedy, D- Mass, chairman of the Health Education, Labor and Pensions committee. "If the liberal Mr. Kennedy takes a lesser role, that could make it easier for the more-conservative Mr. Baucus to push the health-care legislation in a centrist direction." The first draft of Kennedy's proposal last week, circulated by his committee last week, "calls for guaranteed access to health insurance for all Americans and would require employers to help provide coverage or pay a penalty if they don't. It would end the practice among insurers of denying coverage to people on the basis of pre-existing health conditions, and it would set up new state-run exchanges through which people could comparison shop for coverage. The draft doesn't say precisely how the government would pay for the changes" (Bendavid and Adamy, 6/8).
The Washington Post adds that Kennedy's approach to ensuring universal coverage is "modeled after a Massachusetts reform implemented three years ago" and also notes that the draft that is circulating of his committee's bill "is by far the most liberal approach to health-care reform being discussed in Washington and potentially is quite expensive" (Connolly, 6/7).