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. Burns NH

    Nancy,Nancy,why fuse over spilled acid. In your younger days in good
    old San Fran acid was more popular than coffee. Some still get a
    flash back after all these years. Is that your problem?

    October 1, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  2. Nevada Mom

    Miss Pelosi needs to just sit down and shut up. At least the GOP have facts to back what they say! I'm surprised Greyson didn't use Crayons on his flip cards, and have one last card that read, "Na, Na Na Na Na Na!". He's and unknown that the Dems told to stand up and make a fool of himself. Two wrongs do not make a right!

    October 1, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  3. Charlie Rangel

    I think poor Nancy is mentally unstable. Watch her mannerisms when she speaks. It doesn't inspire confidence in me.

    October 1, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  4. LouAz

    Yes, Nancy, that higher standard regarding Health Care Reform by Democrats is called TRUTH !

    October 1, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  5. Debby

    Nancy looks like you can use another facelift.

    October 1, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "Apparently Republicans are holding Democrats to a higher level than they hold their own members,"
    --------------------------------

    Well said Nancy!!!! The erroneous presumption by the Retardicans, err, Rethugs, that Grayson needs to apologize to Jewish sfamilies and survivors of the holocaust is also a whole lot of hooey. The word holocaust was a term used to describe the extermination of the Jews in Europe. BUT the word is not exclusive to said incident. It is defined in Webster's as ' a thorough destruction (especially) by fire'.

    Again, no apologies, to ANYONE necessary.

    October 1, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  7. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    This Grayson dweeb is a JOE WILSON COPY-CAT. He's trying to rack up contributions by saying outrageously stupid things. At least what Joe Wilson said WAS TRUE.

    October 1, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  8. Fernando F

    I agree with Grayson. When Republicans complain they are just being hypocrite.

    October 1, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  9. Impeach Pelosi

    My gosh, I really can't stand this woman!

    This picture shows her true self – she looks like a witch!

    October 1, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  10. Lee

    Grayson and Pelosi are correct. The republicans have made a mockery out of our political processes, offer no real alternatives and take any possible discourse in the public arena back to the stone age. They are simplistic in their approach to solving America's problems. They think they can throw in the terms "illegal immigrants" and "abortion" to distract from the real goal of providing working solutions and then have the nerve to accuse the democrats of the very things the republicans are doing. I for one am so sick of all of this nonsense. Enough already!!!

    Also Jews do not own the word holocaust with a small h. The origin of the word is Greek, holokauston, meaning a thorough destruction involving extensive loss of life especially through fire. Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner is politicizing something that was never implied, nor was the Holocaust, capital h "made light of" by Grayson. If anyone should apologize it should be Hasner, and the four stooges, Boehner, Cantor, Grassley and Steele and other republicans who continue to sling all of their manure around.

    October 1, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  11. www.firedoglake.com

    Speaker Pelosi is right about the double standard that reckless Republican so-called leaders have.

    I am proud of Rep Alan Grayson for speaking out forcefully against what he has seen the Republicans doing in Congress.

    To show my support, I made a contribution to FireDogLake's "Stand by Alan Grayson" at ActBlue.

    I wish more Democrats in the House and Senate would stand up for REAL health care reform, which must include a public health insurance option, and that more Democrats would stand against Republican opponents who use smear and lies to create fear, feed hate, and confuse debate rather than solve real problems.

    October 1, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  12. noone

    but "Death Panels" is ok and deosn't require an apology, nor does calling Obama hitler, etc. etc. etc.

    the true "knuckle-dragging neanderthals" are the voting clowns that allow this crap to influence their support more than policies.

    October 1, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  13. Tex

    Earth to Adam Hasner: holocaust is a word to mean mass killing and/or damage. THE Holocaust is the one you're thinking of, moron.

    You're not going to get any Jewish votes because of that either, so stop trying.

    October 1, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  14. Emmanuel Goldstein

    I believe Pelosi on this one. Who better to speak on this topic. She is an absolute expert on double standards.

    Got strife?

    October 1, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  15. Bedtime for Obonzo

    Nancy, do you have a problem being held to a higher standard?

    October 1, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  16. Randy, San Francisco

    The health care reform debate has been dominated by meaningless noise from both sides. No wonder the American people are either confused,, angry, or discouraged. Our elected representatives have allowed political talk show hosts and politics take control of the debate.

    October 1, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  17. seebofubar

    The US would be much better off without California. Let's give it to Mexico. Let the Mexicans deal with this crazy lady ( I use the term lady with some reservation).

    October 1, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  18. Tony

    Maybe she can start crying again....no wait...maybe she can accuse Americans of carrying swasticas to town hall meeting....no wait...maybe she can accuse the CIA of lying and have no proof...no wait...maybe she can say this guy was just astroturf. This person is worthless. They went after Wilson for an apology but this guy can say these kinds of lies and its OK? Time for the GOP to start doing the same thing, only take the excerpts out of whichever 1300 page bill they dums are touting this week. Time for them all to go. 2010 and 2012 will bring real change, to save the country.

    October 1, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  19. Brook E. Mantia

    The GOP is nothing but Satan's Minions. They hate America and they hate anyone who is poor or sick or disadvantaged. They care only about their own lust for power and glory. They are thieves and liars and murderers and should be driven back to the depths of Hell from which they came.

    October 1, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  20. Milo Ippolito in Atlanta

    Did the Republicans ever apologize for the "Obama death panel" comment?

    October 1, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  21. Cindy

    Stick to your guns, Ms. Pelosi. Grayson said what everybody is thinking. At least he had the decency to say it where it's appropriate, unlike Wilson, who couldn't keep his mouth shut during the President's address to Congress.

    "Enemy to Humanity" "Death Panels" "Killing off Grandma"... How dare the Republicans act miffed and insulted now that they get back the same medicine they've been dishing out all along?

    October 1, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  22. Jeff

    Thank you Representative Alan Grayson !!! Tell it like it is...Others for reform...This is how it is done!..."FIGHT" FOR IT !!! If the RepubliCONS are nothing but obstructionists and cannot provide any solutions then you are right to call it and them to be causing an American Holocaust. And your statement is not a slight to Jews, but rather it's an attempt to wake up non-reformists to the dire crisis we face in health care. THOUSANDS WITHOUT HEALTH CARE ARE DYING!!!...immediately or slowly and painfully!!! And I am sure Jews understand...it closely relates to our righteous credo...NEVER AGAIN !!! (Which means for ALL PEOPLE!) Signed, Independent (including thinking) White Male Jewish Hockey Dad.

    October 1, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  23. no name calling

    It is about time that democrats grew a spine and start telling it like it is. However, since I oppose name calling, I would like to apologize to neanderthals. I believe they (neanderthals) have more compassion for their uninsured or underinsured brothers and sisters than some politicians who happen to be in the pockets of insurance companies.

    October 1, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  24. TangledThorns

    OMG, she lies! While she trashes the peaceful tea Party protesters the Left-wing radicals were literally trashing Pittsburgh.

    October 1, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  25. Charlie Rangel

    When asked about Grayson's comments, Pelosi rants about Republicans. She has no other playbook. Wouldn't the appropriate (at least coherent) answer have been either, "I agree with Mr. Grayson", or, "Mr. Grayson speaks for himself", or perhaps, "I disagree with his comments, but can appreciate his frustration?" Nope, Nancy goes straight to the "Republicans are bad" mantra.

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

    Mr. Grayson needs to take a look around him. The Dems have the votes, it is numerically impossible for the Republicans to "obstruct", rather it is his own party that stands in the way.

    Congress: 535 neurons short of a synapse!

    October 1, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
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