October 1st, 2009
01:45 PM ET
3 years ago

Pelosi: GOP has double standard in health care rhetoric debate

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped congressional Republicans Thursday for holding Democrats to a higher standard.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped congressional Republicans Thursday for holding Democrats to a higher standard.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped congressional Republicans Thursday for holding Democrats to a higher standard in the rhetoric employed in the often acidic health care debate.

"Apparently Republicans are holding Democrats to a higher level than they hold their own members," she told reporters on Capitol Hill. "If anybody's going to apologize, everybody should apologize."

Pelosi made her remarks after being asked to comment on a controversial speech made earlier this week by Florida Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson, who said on the House floor that Republican health care plans call for sick people to "die quickly."

GOP leaders charged Grayson with crossing a rhetorical line and demanded an apology. Grayson responded by apologizing not for his remarks, but for the government's failure to enact health care reform sooner.


"I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven't voted sooner to end this holocaust in America," he said. Grayson cited a Harvard University study released earlier this month that said 44,000 Americans die each year because they have no health insurance.

That prompted a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee to issue a stinging rebuke, saying that Grayson is "doubling down on his despicable remarks and he is dragging his party with him."

On Thursday, a top GOP legislative leader from Grayson's home state of Florida criticized Grayson for making light of the Jewish Holocaust during World War II.

"Regardless of one's position on the issue of health care reform, comparing the American health care system to the systematic murdering of over six million Jews is totally outrageous and unfit for someone holding public office," Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner said.

"Congressman Grayson should apologize to the Jewish community and the families of those whose loved ones were brutally executed. I'd also encourage Mr. Grayson to take a walk tomorrow afternoon to the U.S. Holocaust Museum so he can witness for himself just how offensive and inappropriate his statement is."

Pelosi in turn argued that Republicans regularly make statements about health care on the House floor "that relate to death." The "points have been made," she said. "Now it's time for us to keep the focus on health care."

Grayson - a Democrat who represents a central Florida swing district that includes Orlando - defended his recent remarks Wednesday on CNN's "The Situation Room."

"What I mean is they have got no plan," Grayson told Wolf Blitzer. "It's been 24 hours since I said that. Where is the Republican plan? We're all waiting to see something that will take care of the pre-existing conditions, to take care of the 40 million Americans who have no coverage at all.

"That's what I meant when I said that the Republican plan is don't get sick. And if you do get sick, die quickly."

Grayson said that Republicans he believes are obstructing health care reform are "foot-dragging, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals."

Calling for universal health care, he slammed "whoever it is that's causing the Republicans to fight tooth-and-nail against anything, absolutely anything."

"Those are the people who are really disserving Americans," he said.

– CNN's Alexander Mooney contributed to this report.


Filed under: Alan Grayson • Nancy Pelosi
soundoff (138 Responses)
  1. R.B.

    Well said by Mrs. Pelosi. Alan Grayson is an American hero.

    October 1, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  2. Diane

    What a bunch of idiots. Go back to school. Get a dictionary & look up the word Holocaust. Alan Grayson did not say the Holocaust, he said a Holocaust. How can the Republicans relate this to the Jews. They are really stretching for anything to protect themselves from the truth. They are not just wanting people to die! They think its funny!!

    October 1, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  3. Caesar the Great

    Please people of San Fran, if you want to do something good for this country vote this women out and shut her up. Thanks.

    October 1, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  4. http://twitter.com/whybs

    Start & end all your speech with the following

    The American people deserve to see the GOP health care bill that

    1. supports bipartisanship
    2. provides universal health care
    3. controls raising health care costs
    4. is deficit neutral

    What if it fails, what would be our fallback option? If the GOP are so confident of their bill, why not include a public option with well-defined triggering criteria?

    The GOP talk, talk, and talk but where is their health care bill?

    – from someone who voted for Reagan & I'm not black!

    October 1, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  5. sao

    Alan basically hit the nail on the head. since the election of Mr Obama GOP have been well know to say no to every thing even it some thing that could be use to save the lifes of they love onces they will say no to it. Gop you folks need to know you were send to the senate to serve the people not to deny them they well being because you think the private sector will run out of business. people are dieing every second in this great country simply because they have no health couverage- America above all nation this is sick, I think people like Grayson need to keep reminding folks on capital hill what they dutie are as a public sevant. How can you expect a jobless families to pay for health cost of $ 7.000 per one visit to the DR. office GOP wise up and serve those who sent you to capital hill.

    October 1, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  6. John from Texas

    Dems dont seem to want to be accountable for their words. The man crossed a line in what he said and they feel that they have a moral high ground that enables them to use any tactic they want. However, this guy is no worse than the guy who shouted "Liar" during the POTUS's address. Seems like I remember the Republican apologizing.

    October 1, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  7. Gee

    This whole health-care thing, especially the mandatory coverage and public option stuff is just a lot of crap.....There may be something like 30 million people un-insured in this country for one reason or another but it is NOT an emergency!! All the Dem's really see is 30 million new votes to keep them in power if they can give them all something for free at the expense of everyone else....pretty lame.

    October 1, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  8. ran

    Yes they do! yes they do!

    Democrats just go it alone because the GOP will never never never support a health care bill.

    If you would stand together or use the 51 vote option you could give us the right plan which is: single payer non-profit universal health care.

    Just do it already.

    October 1, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  9. Dana

    Grayson is right on point and doing what a Democrat should have done months ago- catch headlines to get their point across- for too long Republicans have been grabbing headlines with their baseless and hateful and scare attacks on Healthcare Reform- and now we have based attacks back at them and they can't handle it- or maybe they can't handle the fact that now the news media is swarming around the quote- "The Republicans plan is to not get sick or die quickly"- thats a harsh one to hide from- and when you dig into the facts you see although a bit harsh its not too far off base!
    I am glad he is sticking to his comment and not backing down- there is no reason to apologize- it is disgusting how no Republicans can even admit there is a problem with our current healthcare system- and back the the Insurance Carriers over the American people.
    Preach on Mr. Grayson- preach on- the American people are behind you and proud of you!!

    October 1, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  10. NJ

    Today, John Boehner called on Speaker Pelosi to "riegn in the rhetoric" coming out of the Democrats.

    Oh my God have you ever heard of anything so blindingly hypocritical in you whole life. I guess John feels that if the Dems want to express an opinion they need to do it in the proper manner; that is by attenting a town hall meeting with a gun or shouting pejoratives at the President while he's addressing Congress. And you need to have a picture of Obama in a Hitler mustache when you do it to.

    You can't say "die soon." But "death panels" is just fine.

    October 1, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  11. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    God Bless you Madam Speaker!

    October 1, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  12. Sgt. USMC

    It seems as though the GOP is more concerned with Grayson's comments than they are about the Harvard University study which shows that so many DIE each year due to LACK OF HEALTH INSURANCE. Why is this study not enough reason for the Republicans to put their egos aside and start working together to make progress?

    October 1, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  13. demwit

    Calling Republicans foot-dragging, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals that want sick people to die quickly..., OK
    Calling Obama a bold-faced liar.., not OK.

    ,..mmmK!?

    October 1, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
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