Moderate GOP Senators Grassley and Snowe Back Off Broad Spectrum Health Reform -- Cook Warns Dems of Loss of Seats

The Washington Post is reporting that Senator Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, has been convinced by his August recess experience (like this one) to stand-down on broad spectrum health care reform. The Post also quotes Senator Snowe, one of the three Republicans that make up the Gang of Six negotiating health care reform with the Chairman Baucus, the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, as saying the main take away from the August recess is that people like their health care the way it is now.

The effect of Grassley and Snowe backing off means Obamacare can never — not ever — get 60 votes in the Senate, because Senator Grassley’s and Senator Snowe’s agreement would have put enormous pressure on the moderate Democratic Senators to play ball on the Obama plan. And if you read between the lines of Senator Grassley’s quotes in the Post story, it is clear the American public do not believe the President’s campaign promise “if you like your plan you can keep it.”

Now, Senator Grassley is supporting, he says, a narrower measure. What narrower measure? Good question. I am sure that the Gang of Six, or however many are left, will let us know when they decide.

Yet another blow to Obamacare came from Charlie Cook. In what constitutes an emergency political message to the Democratic Congress, election analyst Charlie Cook sent out a special, unscheduled newsletter to his subscribers. According to Politico, Cook warned the political situation in August (read: Obamacare) “has slipped completely out of control.” Cook is so hyper-sensitive to criticizing his Democratic colleagues, he did not even use the words health care. Instead, he cited “August.”

Charlie Cook says in his emergency warning newsletter to the Democrats that his own estimates of a loss of 8 to 12 Dem House seats “are far too low.” Cook added, “We believe it would be a mistake to underestimate the impact that this mood will have on Members of Congress of both parties when they return to Washington in September, if it persists through the end of the Congressional recess.”

First, the moderate GOP Senators Grassley and Snowe back off big picture health care reform. Then, Cook warns the Dems that his estimates of them losing a dozen seats in the House next election are “far too low.” And President Obama’s approval ratings are at an all time low, and yet, President Obama still is out trying to drum up support for Obamacare. He keeps doing what is causing his polls to sink.

And is that Obamacare with or without a public plan? Who knows? A majority of the Ameircan public want Congress to do nothing on health care reform. Nothing, yet President Obama keeps pushing Obamacare.

It is beginning to look like this analysis, posted Sunday, was right on the money.

The key reporting elements of the Washington Post story, where Senators Grassley and Snowe back off health care reform, follow:

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, a key Republican negotiator in the quest for bipartisan health-care reform, said Wednesday that the outpouring of anger at town hall meetings this month has fundamentally altered the nature of the debate and convinced him that lawmakers should consider drastically scaling back the scope of the effort.

After being besieged by protesters at meetings across his home state of Iowa, Grassley said he has concluded that the public has rejected the far-reaching proposals Democrats have put on the table, viewing them as overly expensive precursors to “a government takeover of health care.”

“Not just on health care, but on a lot of other things Congress has done this year, people are signaling that we ought to slow up and find out where we are and don’t spend so much money and don’t get us so far into debt,” he said in a telephone interview between stops in Iowa Falls and Ames, where he has been leading foreign diplomats on a week-long tour of the state. The Finance Committee group is still discussing a “comprehensive” plan for extending coverage to millions of uninsured families, he said, but revisiting that approach would be “a natural outcome of what people may be getting from the town hall meetings.”

As the senior Republican on the Finance Committee, Grassley has the potential to attract GOP votes by giving his blessing to a bill, and congressional Democrats and the White House consider him the key to winning bipartisan support for President Obama’s top domestic priority. In recent days, however, some Democrats have accused Grassley of trying to undermine the reform effort, for example by refusing to debunk rumors that the Democratic health bills would create “death panels” empowered to decide whether the infirm live or die.

On Wednesday, he denied those claims and fired back at Obama, saying the president should publicly state his willingness to sign a bill without a controversial government-run insurance plan. Such a statement, he said, is “pretty important . . . if you’re really interested in a bipartisan bill.”


On Wednesday, Grassley made clear that he remains committed to pursuing a health-care bill, provided it does not “make things worse” for people who are happy with their insurance or add to swollen budget deficits. His remarks echoed those of other key Republicans — including [3] Sens. Olympia J. Snowe (Maine) and Mike Enzi (Wyo.), the other GOP negotiators on the finance panel — as well as some Democrats, who are quietly urging Obama and congressional leaders to lower their expectations for what can be accomplished this year in the interest of building momentum for future reform.

Enzi, who said he could support a larger measure, said in an e-mail message that it would be more “effective” to break the bill into parts. Snowe, who is being courted by administration officials, said she told Obama in a White House meeting this month that he should take a more “practical approach” toward reform legislation that “doesn’t so transform the system that it undercuts what is best about our existing health-care system.”

“If there’s anything we’ve learned during the course of this August recess,” Snowe said in a telephone interview Wednesday, “it’s that there are many people who are satisfied with their health insurance. And that’s important. And we want to make sure it stays that way.”

And now, because of the American people’s reaction to Obamacare, even the moderates are backing off — big time.

There are three people to blame for the Democrats’ “completely out of control” political situation: President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Waxman. Are they the three horsemen of the Democratic Party Apocalypse? What’s your view?

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