September 17th, 2009
05:48 PM ET
9 years ago

Grassley: 'I kinda resent' White House over health care reform

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley - one of the Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee's "Gang of Six" - told reporters Thursday it's been six weeks since he's spoken to President Obama or anyone on the White House staff.

"I'll tell ya, there's some things that the president has said since then, that I took very personally," Grassley said.

The Iowa senator said he took offense to comments made by the president last month in response to a controversy of a provision regarding end-of-life counseling in one of the health care reform bills in the House.

"You have every right to fear," Grassley told constituents at a town hall in mid-August, "You shouldn't have counseling at the end of life, you should have done that 20 years before. [We] Should not have a government run plan to decide when to pull the plug on grandma."

At a health care event of his own last month, the president responded to similar criticism.

"The notion that somehow I ran for public office or members of Congress are in this so that they can go around pulling the plug on grandma ... when you start making arguments like that, it's simply dishonest," Obama said.

The presidential comeback still doesn't sit well with Grassley. The senator said he resents accusations that he and other Republicans have been more concerned with scoring political points than achieving a consensus on policy in the debate over health care reform.

"I kinda resent – when I have been very candid with the President of the United States, face-to-face . . . And I leveled with him . . . And then we're accused by Axelrod of making political things and maybe not being serious in our negotiations," Grassley told reporters Thursday. "That's not a very good environment to carry on a conversation with the White House."

Grassley also suggested Thursday that it was "intellectually dishonest" to call the proposal unveiled by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, a bipartisan bill.

For several weeks, Baucus and Grassley have been working with two Republicans and two Democrats – known as the "Gang of Six" – in trying to strike a compromise that might win broad support in the Senate. Grassley and fellow Republican Sens. Mike Enzi and Olympia Snowe are not supporting the Baucus proposal that is set for mark-up in the Finance Committee. But the three Republicans have said they remain committed to crafting a bill that will garner bipartisan support.

–CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash contributed to this report.

Filed under: Charles Grassley • Health care • President Obama • Senate
soundoff (111 Responses)
  1. Tom

    How can I put this delicately: Shut up, Chuck! You lied, and the president called you out on it. If you don't like that, stop lying and try actually serving the American people!

    September 17, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  2. MikeH

    Grassley doesn't like his lying being called out for what it is.

    Republican is becoming synonymous with liar and racists. Don't like it, then stop behaving that way.

    September 17, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  3. Aunt Bea and Opie

    Grassley is lower than cow manure.

    September 17, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  4. Michael

    Wow, the GOP have become the party of whiners, haven't they?

    Grassley helped perpetuate the paranoid garbage about death panels. And now he has hurt feelings because (gasp, shock, horror!) the President denounced those lies as dishonesty.

    Suck it up, buttercup. Sheesh.

    September 17, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  5. Joe the Comment Leaver

    Most Americans KNOW that the "death panel" lies are 100% about scoring political points and scaring the public into supporting high insurance executive salaries.

    September 17, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  6. zap01

    Says the man playing both sides of the fence. We can work it out Mr. President. No, constituants, I will not let the President succeed in anything.

    September 17, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  7. Dan

    Welcome to chicagoesque politics senator. It's like this from now own: you will be accused of anything from being political on issues to being a racist! Is this the bi-partisan atmosphere we have been promised??

    September 17, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  8. Andrew, Brier WA

    Grassley needs to use his ears more than his mouth.

    End of life discussions are important. They are about dealing with serious issues and realistic choices.

    Right now we have private companies who are driven by the profit motive making the decision whether to "pull the plug on grandma".

    The question is whether that decision should be left in the hands of the insurance companies or placed back in the hands of grandma herself and her family.

    September 17, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  9. jacster

    The reality is that Grassley did indeed stoke fears about death panels when meeting with his constituents during the August recess so I don't really understand why he should now be upset with President Obama for responding to this and other mistruths being continually propagated by Grassley and others in the Republican Party.

    September 17, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  10. A Mobley


    The reason the right and fringe Republicans are willing to allow the party center to be drawn into racist rhetoric is simple math…If you start out with low numbers, say…23-29% national support and you have racial demographics 70% White 14% Black 15% Hispanic etc., The lure of bumping up number and raising support thru race bating is attractive… stupid but attractive.

    If you can draw over a just a few percentage points with fear and racial polarization, your numbers go up to say 35-40%. The opposing side looses 10-15% to the Independent column and the next election is suddenly accessible. It’s a dangerous and sick game played with victims on both sides. Democrats would be foolish to be drawn in.

    Can you imagine the isolation necessary around the Obama children? For their sake grown ups on both side should put a stop to the game and put the toys away. AMobley

    September 17, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  11. Independent

    Surely we have elected children to do adults work

    September 17, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  12. GOPer

    C'mon, Grassley has been anything but "candid" in his lies about pulling the plug on grandma. Shameful.

    Many Americans "kinda resent" Grassley's dishonest nonsense.

    September 17, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  13. anita

    I feel for all Republicans and for people in general who disagree with the current administration. The administration's response has been to shout down anyone who does not agree with them. It's a bully's response. So much for constructive change. I would just like to see more Americans with jobs and off of unemployment. I would like to see less of Nancy Pelosi hugging illegal immigrants and telling them they are not breaking the law!

    September 17, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  14. this is called sarcasm

    Super golly Senator Grassley, we'd sure hate to offend you !! You know how when you went back to Iowa and told all those wingnuts that there really ARE death panels, we didn't think that was "political" at all. And remember how you took "credit" for why there isn't a healthcare reform bill already passed. Ya that was REAL "candid" and I'm sure the President didn't "take that personally" at all.

    Throughout this whole sorry summer you have done so much to keep my faith in our governament and democratic system intact that I'd just hate like the dickens to do anything that may offend you sir. You sir...are a statesman. God bless you Senator Grassley.

    September 17, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  15. Gamechanger

    (Grassley) said he resents accusations that he and other Republicans have been more concerned with scoring political points than achieving a consensus on policy in the debate over health care reform.

    Perhaps then Senator Grassley can detail all of the efforts of Republicans that have gone towards achieving consensus on policy. You know, all the ideas they have been willing to meet in the middle.

    Off the top of my head, I can name a multitude of policy ideas the White House and Dems are willing to compromise on: Tort reform, the public option, stronger language for illegal aliens.

    Not suprisingly, I can't think of one area that the GOP is willing to try and reach consensus on.

    These guys only appeal to morons who can't get past their hatred for Obama.

    September 17, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  16. nick

    lets not waste anymore time. pass this bill for the millions of uninsured including me. we need reform NOW!!

    September 17, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  17. D. Tree

    oh what a crybaby – stop posturing and get something done for once, you lazy Senator!

    September 17, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  18. Proud Member..Party of No

    President Pinoccio can't open his mouth without lying. He himself stated that "maybe grandma should just take a pain pill rather than opt for life prolonging surgery". And there is no provision in the bill to keep illegal immigrants out of government-run health care despite several republican attempts to add that specific language to the bill. Joe Wilson was right. Obama lies.

    September 17, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  19. Alex in Wisconsin

    It is really getting annoying when every time the White house speaks the truth, a Republican takes offense, but at the same time, they are fueling the fires of misinformation and disrespect. Of course the White House is going to call you out when you throw around lines like "pulling the plug on grandma." And of course that is dishonest. there is nothing in the bill that says the government will pull the plug on grandma.

    September 17, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  20. Mario, mtl, ca.

    You lie Mr. Grassley

    September 17, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  21. John from California

    I kinda resent Senator Grassley over his undying support of the Insurance Industry over the health care of millions of Americans.

    Senator Grassley seems to think his only loyalty is to his state and to his Insurance Industry supports.

    Senator the whole country is watching you and your tiny minority extreme republican party and we don't like what we are seeing.

    September 17, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  22. Independent

    Because his feelings were hurt he refuse to help move the country forward.....OMG, Shameful!!!

    September 17, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  23. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    The arrogance of The One and his cronies is astounding. They're smarter than we are, they know the rights answers to very complicted issues, and they are smug and disdainful of even the most temperate and reasoned opponents. Who do they think they are?

    September 17, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  24. Kent

    And you say that you presented the case of what the president said "very accurately"? I'm not impressed with your ambiguity to scare voters in such a way as to suggest what was suggested to you know what to you know who.......are you understanding? See what we mean?!

    People need you to shut up the scare tactics and tell us EXACTLY what you mean!

    September 17, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  25. Robert

    Hey Charlie , come on. have you forgotten the email you send to your supporters for fundraising? You clearly stated your intention on the bi-partisan gang of six. You said you were there to make sure that health care reform bill was killed. "We will long remember what we do here but we won't forget what we say here"

    September 17, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
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