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. Sam Sixpack

    Where do all the "they got no plan" nut-jobs come from?

    Any old Goober can have a stupid plan.

    Having no plan is far better than having a stupid plan.

    This health care "reform" scam is actually worse than a stupid plan – these crooks are trying to steal your Grandmother's Medicare.

    Obamacare: pulling the plug – one grandma at a time.

    October 1, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  2. I can see Canada from my house!

    Its amazing. When Wilson screamed his comments at the President during a televised address to a Joint Session of Congress, the GOP, after some initial, wishy-washy critiques, all came to his defense. By contrast, Grayson's comments were made to a virutally empty chamber late in the day, when only C-Span junkies are watching. The Democratic leaders demurred on Wilson, waiting to see what would pan out: the GOP leadership made this into a story by their ham-fisted and blatantly hypocritical response. I commend Pelosi for witholding her comments for a couple of days: Boehner probably knocked over several interns on his way to the microphone to attack Grayson for pointing out the obvious, that the GOP plan only gives people the option of staying healthy. None of his comment come as any suprise to those of us who have seen our coverage reduced and our premiums increase. The only people who really oppose this are the ones who scream about government intrusion into their lives, then scream louder when the police are late responding to the break-in at their house.

    GOP: Idiots, all.

    October 1, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain

    Ms. Pelosi, why even bother with the Republicans? They are dedicated to one thing only: Regaining power so they can continue shoveling money to the wealthy corporations and families.

    The Republicans are intent on turning our country into a third-world country, where the top 1% own 95% of all the wealth, there's virtually Middle Class and the vast majority of people live in poverty. Oh, and religious police monitor private citizens' actions.

    To expect Republicans – who have publically stated they want our President and our country to fail – to behave decently or to engage in anything but bully tactics with the maturity of a pissed-off third grader, is to expect far too much.

    October 1, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  4. sine

    I agree-why do democrats always have to play nice and be bipartisan while the republicans spit vile rhetoric along with punching through all their agenda. I say ...democrats GET SOME SPINE, a large majority of the US voted you in go get things done SO DO THEM!!!!

    October 1, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  5. JayG

    Um, I'm not sure but I coulda swore I heard Wilson apologize more than once, have we heard this idiot apologize at all?? Who's the real hypocryte Pelosi

    October 1, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  6. NC

    The Speaker of the House is correct. During the month of August all we heard was death panels and wanting to kill grandma from the Republicans. Republicans are holding all democrats including our President to a higher standard. Former President Bush spent 4 days at the Olympics during August 2008. We were fighting 2 wars and the enconomy wa spiraling downward. He basically went on a world tour the summer of 2008 and let us fend for ourselves. He started 2 wars without an exit plan. Now Republicans want President Obama to clean up the mess they made in a matter of months. THE PARTY OF NO FOR EVERYTHING THAT WILL HELP AMERICANS. THE PARTY OF YES WHEN IT COMES TO KILLING OUR SONS AND DAUGHTERS AND INNOCENT PEOPLE THAT GET IN THEIR WAY.

    October 1, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  7. Randolph Carter

    The only standard the republicans (and some democrats) have is to maintain the status quo and keep those campaign contributions rolling in. Everything else is secondary. With no public option, healthcare reform will be a big, expensive giveaway to industry with no real reform. I can't wait to hear those who have been neo-conned whining in 10 years when they can't afford health insurance or are refused medical treatment by corporate death panels. Have a nice day!

    October 1, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  8. liberals make me puke

    Grayson, you don't even have an original thought. You stole that line anyways. Sit down Junior and shut up.

    October 1, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  9. Tim

    Wilson did apologize for his spontaneous outburst. Grayson did not apologize for his planned outburst.

    Nancy's not very bright.

    October 1, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  10. James in TX

    Webster's definition of holocaust is "excessive loss of life, often by fire. Ex. Nuclear holocaust.". The representative's argument is employs this definition. He made no reference to the Jewish peoples, Hitler, or WWII. Just because a word becomes part of a title for a tragicevenr in our past doesn't mean it disappeared from our vocabulary. Otherwise we can strike 'crusade' and about a hundred more... A thousand years from now we'll need a whole new language to talk to each other.

    October 1, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  11. Dex Houston TX

    You tell 'em Nancy P. I'm with you!

    October 1, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  12. Flex

    I agree with Grayson! The democrats finally have someone who is not afraid to stand up to the reckless ignorance of republicans. The holocaust outrage is fake, and I'm not impressed. The individuals who pretend to be offended are not Jewish!

    October 1, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  13. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    So when is the GOP going to apologize to the American people and the people of Iraq for what they, Bush and Cheney did unflinchingly for eight horrific years?

    October 1, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  14. Peggy - TX

    When your watch a loved one dies because they can not afford surgery or an expensive medication, then for you it is your own personal holocaust. The hard cold facts are that the death rate due to natural causes is up because people can not afford life saving medications. Bodies are piling up in the morgue- unclaimed because the families can not afford to bury them, while Republican fight tooth and nail to protect high profits to the Insurance oligopoly at the expense of access to basic medical insurance for the many Americans trapped in low paid jobs.

    Evil is as Evil does!!!

    Thank you Nancy Pelosi for standing up to the devil Republicans.

    October 1, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  15. FORMER republican, NEVER again!

    Amen Nancy! You tell them lying, hypocritical rethuglicans the truth!

    October 1, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  16. Minnesotan

    He is absolutely right! The GOP just say anything. The more outrageous the better. So why not fight back the same way? And as for the Holocaust comment... a holocaust is something that happened to the Jews. In some form or another it is happening to the un/underinsured in the US also. The Jews don't own the term holocaust. But way to go sticking something with absolute irrelavance in there to try and distract from the larger point.

    October 1, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  17. bush VICTIM

    Right on Nancy! You tell em!

    October 1, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  18. Enlightened Voter

    Thank you Nancy for telling those hypocritical republicans the truth! Amen sister!

    October 1, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  19. SlowGun

    Hard to beleive Republicans are serious about access to affordable health care. When Bob Dole was running against Clinton, he stated, "There is no health care crisis in American". Well it is the fasting growing expense to families and businesses. (FYI – Dole went on to star in commercials for Phizer). Clinton won the election and went to work on health care, but it was shot down by the republicans who offered no counter proposal. The republicans had total control for the first six years of the Bush Admininstaration and did not do one thing about health care (unless you count getting government involved in the Terry Shavio story) They didn't do one thing to slow the raising costs or provide a plan during the Bush year. Why?
    So now we are supposed to beleive they care about health care. Not saying the Obama plan is perfect or even the right plan, but at least they are trying to do something.

    October 1, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  20. vic nashville , Tn

    Pelosi didn’t get it

    Gop spoke person Rush told we are living in Obama’s America

    So we can do whatever we want we can speak whatever we want

    So pass the healthcare reform

    October 1, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  21. J.P.

    "Paging Nancy Pelosi! Paging Nancy Pelosi!"

    "Ms. Pelosi, your tenure in the House of Representatives is nearing its end."

    "Please have your bags packed and ready to go by November 2, 2010."

    October 1, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  22. Clint

    I think that Madame Speaker misspoke: There is no double standard, the GOP wingnut army has no standards. It will say or do anything in order to retain the status quo and their monetary, social and political positions. I do not know why they have not been christened as the second coming of the "Know Nothing Party".

    October 1, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  23. We Won Get Over It

    If you google you can find at least ten statements by republicans that say that if Americans GET a health care plan it will kill them.....BUT at least Grayson was telling the truth...republicans do wish that all democrats would die quickly and then they could once again lay waste to this great country of ours.

    October 1, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  24. Henry Miller, Libertarian, Cary, North Carolina

    I have three 8-year-old kids (my wife was feeling very efficient back in 2001...) and the behaviour of Congress, Dems and Reps alike, is about on a par with the childishness those kids display:

    [Katie] "He hit me!"
    [Kyle] "She hit me first!"
    [Katie] "You took the last cookie! It was mine!"
    [Kyle] "That wasn't me, that was Trent! Go hit Trent!
    [Trent] "I took the cookie 'cause you took the last cookie last week!
    [Katie] "I took that cookie 'cause Mom let you watch Power Rangers and I wanted to watch Hannah Montana!

    And on and on.

    Grow up, people.

    October 1, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  25. Tom L

    I can't believe I'm saying this but I think that Pelosi is correct. Everyone should apologize. However, only one person has apologized so far. The other offended an entire religion.

    He truly has no idea how offensive and hurtful that comment was which shows how misguided he is.

    October 1, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
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