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What Happened to Chuck Grassley's Deficit-Improving Health-Care Plan?


Chuck Grassley on whether the "Gang of Six" will reach a deal when the Senate returns in September:

If you asked me that on Aug. 6, I would have said yes, I think so, September. But you’re asking me on Aug. 27 and you’ve got the impact of democracy in America. Everybody’s showing up at town meetings.

Something weird is going on here. Grassley says that the concern is primarily being prompted by deficits. But his partner, Max Baucus, has said that CBO scored the Gang of Six's preliminary plan as "actually reduc[ing] the federal budget deficit over 10 years," not to mention covering 95 percent of all Americans. If Grassley's constituents are concerned about the deficit, they'd presumably be very supportive of Grassley co-sponsoring a bill that reduces the deficit. But Grassley never brings that up. He reiterates the deficit charge as if it's an argument against health-care reform, as opposed to for his health-care plan. That doesn't sound like the behavior of someone trying to get to yes.

Photo credit: By Steve Pope -- Associated Press

By Ezra Klein  |  August 28, 2009; 6:08 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Nothing weird. These people couldn't care less what's in the bill, because they have no intention of voting for it. They just want to kill the whole thing. And with the spineless Dems on the other side, they may very well succeed.

Posted by: impikk | August 28, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Grassley was ideologically opposed but pretended to be pragmatic and negotiated in bad faith.

Time's a wastin' -- let's cram this thing through and go to the polls in 2010 with our heads held high.

Posted by: bmull | August 28, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

what impikk and bmull said

Posted by: scott1959 | August 28, 2009 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Just a question, Ezra. Did you honestly think Grassley was sincere and truthful about negotiating anything? You are an informed credible observer of the health care scene, but are you really that naive? Sen. Jon Kyl put it succinctly, not one R is going to vote for a health care bill, and frankly never were. Even Rahm knows they've long ago made a political calculation. Besides their ideology doesn't permit universal coverage or even serious regulation of corporate enterprises.

Posted by: cmpnwtr | August 28, 2009 11:51 PM | Report abuse

Repeating my new talking point.

The Kennedy-Dodd HELP Bill is ALREADY a huge compromise. The final version scored out about a third cheaper than the preliminary version and covered less people. HELP bent over backwards to accomodate the Republicans and should be merely the starting point for negotiations with the House with the goal of moving from the HELP Plan to Tri-C
CBO Coverage Score of HELP from July 1 as a JPG
CBO Coverage Score of Tri-Committeee from JUly 14th

HELP Non-Elderly Legal Resident Coverage 90%
Tri-C Non-Elderly Legal Resident Coverage 97%

Kennedy made a good faith effort and Republicans callously sought to run out the clock. We can best honor Kennedy by pushing to get his concessions reversed in Conference.

Posted by: BruceWebb | August 29, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

But his partner, Max Baucus, has said that CBO scored the Gang of Six's preliminary plan as "actually reduc[ing] the federal budget deficit over 10 years,"

Did you see this secret magical mysterious plan?

I haven't seen it.

Maybe such a plan exists but maybe it doesn't have a chance in hell of passing his full committee or the Senate as a whole.

I want to see the deficit reducing health care plan, don't you?

Regardless of what crazy Grassley say's ...

Posted by: cautious | August 29, 2009 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Why doesn't the Washington Post file a FOI request for the CBO scored deficit reducing plan that Baucus speaks of.

Posted by: cautious | August 29, 2009 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Don't you find it a little bit funny that the only health reform plan that supposedly reduces the deficit is the only plan on capitol hill that we haven't been allowed to see and that has never been voted on?

Posted by: cautious | August 29, 2009 8:15 AM | Report abuse

It's lame that the constraints of journalism prevent you from weighing in with the record of some of these players and reporting that the REAL news would be Player X acting in good faith, because their every day behavior is 'I'm a duplicitous snake'.

There are the unpleasant images of sausage-making that go with all legislative accomplishments and then there is the guy who revels in taking a dump in the sausage maker while the process is ongoing. You don't really want him in the mix.

Posted by: jamusco | August 29, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

I know this question does not follow this post but I cannot ask it on your other health posts as they are now closed.

So here is my question:

"Is there reasonable evidence to suggest that additional health care spending potentially kills more people than it saves?"

I have a link to a report by the Congressional Research Office with a graph on page CRS-50 (or page 56 of my .pdf reader) which suggests that we are already killing too many people by spending as much as we spend on health care.

This could make sense if health care spending began to crowd out other types of spending such as safer roads or better primary schools, etc..., all of which MIGHT potentially add more to a nation's median longevity than an additional dollar of health care spending.

While I realize this graph in no way is proof this is the case- e.g. that every additional dollar America spends on health care actually kills more people than it saves- the very fact data suggests such a possibility must be addressed in the current debate as it is very relevant to any current strategy that deals with health care reform.

It would be quite immoral to kill more people in order to save a fewer number under any moral system (liberal or conservative) I am aware of.,_September_17,_2007

Ezra, I think the burden of proof is on you to show this graph does not mean what it suggests re: health care spending as you are the one making an argument that we need to spend more now to save more tomorrow.

I certainly see that you mean well and I often agree with much of what you say, but if this data means what it suggests, you would not want to be responsible for recommending a policy that creates a form of mass murder by policy neglect.

Hoping you will address this concern with some kind of response/data.

Best regards from an admirer

Posted by: mcgreivy | August 30, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

"as you are the one making an argument that we need to spend more now to save more tomorrow."

This is a lie. The argument is not "spend more now to save more tomorrow," the argument is, more or less, "spend smarter." We already spend more than most if not all countries with national health care systems and still we get worse results.

Posted by: CyrusL | August 31, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Re: "This is a lie."

From Ezra Klein's post You've Got Questions: Health Reform's Cost Paradox...

"That's the theory behind health care reform. Costs will jump in the short-term as we expand coverage, but contract in the long-term as we make changes to the system."

Ezra, I hope you understand my question better than your readers do

Posted by: mcgreivy | August 31, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

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