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Chuck Grassley's Legislative Tease


Chuck Grassley would be a really terrible guy to date:

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) would have been able to craft a health bill with broad bipartisan support had he been given more time, a key Senate colleague claimed Thursday.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, argued that Baucus, the committee's chairman, might have unveiled a bill with a more positive reception had he not come under political pressure.

"The sad commentary is that we were working to practically completion of a bill," Grassley told CNBC during an interview this morning. "Another couple weeks would have given us an opportunity to have a bipartisan bill that I think would have gotten broad-based support."

I was totally getting ready to propose, baby, if you'd only waited a couple more weeks ...

I actually find Grassley's behavior throughout all this a bit shocking. Grassley's friendship with Baucus is long and deep. And he has made Baucus look like a weak, ineffectual fool. He has absolutely hung him out to dry.

Baucus assumed enormous personal risk to try and secure Grassley's support. He formed the "Gang of Six," infuriating the other members of his committee. He blew through the White House's August deadline, angering Senate Democrats and harming the White House. He compromised on a raft of liberal priorities, infuriating the Democratic base. And he got ... nothing.

Less than nothing, in fact. Grassley went on TV to trash the Democratic bills and proclaim that he was closed to an actual compromise. He let Baucus end the process with a compromised bill and not a single vote of confidence from his Republican colleagues. He made Baucus look like a knave. If there was any evidence that Grassley hated Baucus and wished him ill, it would count as one of the truly masterful political defenestrations in recent decades.

Photo credit: By Harry Hamburg – Associated Press

By Ezra Klein  |  September 17, 2009; 1:37 PM ET
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Next: Max Baucus's Legitimacy Problem


"And he has made Baucus look like a weak, ineffectual fool."


Baucus has always been a weak ineffectual fool.

Posted by: jc263field | September 17, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

As Homer says, it takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen.

The worst part is that all of this will probably lead to the Dems compromising further as they chase their abusive partner out the door and into the neighborhood screaming, "Baby, I'm sorry. I can change."

Posted by: eRobin1 | September 17, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Grassley is catering to the base in Iowa, people who picked Mike Huckabee, the Dobson protegee, in 2008.

Grassley would sell anything reelection, even friendship, or what passes for it in the Senate. Baucus was played for a total fool, but only because he was a fool to begin with. He should never be taken seriously again, certainly should not be allowed anywhere near climate change legislation, and ought to lose his committee chairmanship after the 2010 elections. And Grassley is beneath contempt as well, but at least he stands for something (reelection and more for the already too rich and already too crazy).

Posted by: Mimikatz | September 17, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

This makes more sense if we keep reminding ourselves that Baucus was working directly with Obama, as has been noted in the NYTimes and elsewhere. . Grassley's against Baucus on this thing because Baucus and Obama are a team.

Grassley may have crafted something with Baucus under different circumstances (meaning, if the GOP didn't want to obstruct everything Obama does, including moderate health care reform), but either WH didn't count on that, or they wanted to make the eventual outcome *look* bipartisan (which has the added bonus of reducing corporate opposition).

Posted by: Chris_ | September 17, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

And apropos of the chat below: Ted Kennedy's memoir IS really good. Hard to know when he started it, although he does say he had amassed a great deal of material all through his life (at least from when his father was Ambassador). But for me what really stands out (and stood out at his funeral) is his largeness of heart and purpose. He may have made mistakes and abused alcohol and perhaps in a sense women, but he truly did care about ordinary people, certainly more than JFK, and about all the people around him. The pseudo-religious charlatans on the Right demonized him, but here was a man who did try to live his faith, especially the parts about caring about the least among them. Sure his family's wealth made all that possible, but there are plenty of children of the rich who are petty and selfish and self-absorbed.

Posted by: Mimikatz | September 17, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Whatever. I'm increasingly convinced that Snowe is not going to support any plan--in fact after hearing about her "free-rider provision" I wonder if she has Alzheimers.

So I think that the Public Option should be resurrected to try to rally Obama's progressive base. There are some interesting scenarios at OpenLeft where this might work:

51-50, with an interim Kennedy appointment voting yes, Senator Byrd voting no, and Vice-President Biden casting the tie-breaker.

50-49, with an interim Kennedy appointment voting yes, and Senator Byrd not voting at all.

50-49, with no interim appointment, Senator Byrd not voting, and Vice-President Biden casting a tie-breaker

Posted by: bmull | September 17, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Media needs to ask this openly to Sen. Grassley, put him on the spot for all the dishonesty he is displaying and subjecting Americans to disingenuity:

When GM was to declare Bankruptcy, most in the world doubted whether the bankruptcy proceedings can be rushed through the court in short time of 2 months or so. They did it in 45 days. Conservatives were leading in ‘laughing’ the Administration plan of pushing proceedings through court involving thousands of suppliers, multitude of bond holders and thousands of employees. Talk about complexity. To put bluntly, that ‘complexity’ was no less than what the boondoggle called ‘bipartisan health care reform’ is. So then do we say Senators, or Gang of Six, has been incompetent to pull off timely completion of the bill? It seems so is the case.

Media grills Administration Press Secretary daily on each and every subject. Is it too much to ask for a similar treatment for at least a day to a Senator who has been fooling around the whole country for all these months?

That is it baby, we will have Dem challenge to that sucker in Iowa and we will raise funds for that candidate and will see then ‘who lies’.

Posted by: umesh409 | September 17, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Defenestrate - The act of throwing a thing or esp. a person out of a window. From a traditional Czech assasination method. I didn't know Archie Bunkers' heritage was Czech.

Posted by: BertEisenstein | September 17, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Senator Grassley has long experience with Senator Baucus; in their history, Senator Baucus always caves in to what the Republicans want. So Senator Grassley is legitimately shocked that Senator Baucus was only willing to give the Republicans 90% now, and sincere in his belief that given more time, they could have gotten it to 100%.

Posted by: richsiegel | September 18, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

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