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. worriedmom

    And when is Madame Speaker going to apologize to the CIA, the astro turf, evil teabaggers and the American public for all the names she called. Lets start with the top Madame Speaker before you talk about double standards. What a joke this whole Congress is!!!

    October 1, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  2. chris l

    The radical anti-American President and his band of merry socialist followers are coming unhinged more and more with each passing day. OStalin is will lose in a landslide in 2012 just like Carter I. Actually he will be lucky to make it to 2012. As far as the other radicals like Pelosi, Reid etc... they are doomed in 2010. Oh, and the anti-American Radical Corzine in New Jersey and the other psycho in Virginia will lose and lose big. As fringe Obama and his misfits lose all power so will CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, HUFFPO, KOS, MOVE ON etc... Hopefully the members of these radical nazi like groups will be thrown in gitmo for treason. Time to round up the loons and give the power back to real Americans where it belongs.

    October 1, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  3. jeff

    If I am not mistaken the repubs asked the senator who yelled Liar to appologize and I think the dems should insist their guy does the same.

    October 1, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  4. Tom

    "The Holocaust".... capital "H"... is not the same as "a holocaust",,, lower case "h".

    Grayson said the current situation is "a" holocaust, which is correct and appropriate.

    The Jewish Holocaust, as terrible and tragic as that event was, does NOT constitute every holocaust, or remove the word from the english language to be applied to another event of tragedy or death.

    October 1, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  5. Chris

    Nancy, no one is listening to you anymore....

    ROFL

    What a stooge this woman is!!

    October 1, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  6. dru

    Though I am not a Pelosi fan professionally, I agree with her.

    If Mr. Wilson can't apologize to the house why should Grayson?

    The house should make both individuals write a statement. And congress should go back to being more civil and less combative. We are all on the same side here people

    October 1, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  7. Sick and Tired

    Okay, now that everyone has gotten everything off of their chests, can we NOW work together to stop these thieving Insurance companies from getting rich off of the American People, or is that something only the sick and tired, middle-class and lower class and dying Americans think about?

    October 1, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I am thrilled to see at least a couple of Democrats have the chutzpah to call these liars out and civilly put them in their place. We've been suffering for months all of their outrageous charges of 'death panels', killing granny, and gov't paid abortions with no one standing up to them and their fabrications. So, thank you to the junior congressman from Florida. It appears that it takes the impetousity of youth to call a spade a spade. Oh, you too Nancy!

    October 1, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  9. Regressive Party Refugee (former republican)

    For once, I agree with Pelosi. The republicans are being disingenuous in the extreme to carp about Grayson's remarks when they started and dominate the game of extreme rhetoric. The difference is Grayson is speaking easily discerned truth, while the republicans continue to pander to the most extreme elements of their base with ridiculous elaborations and outright falsehoods, the same way their ideological leaders do in talk radio and on Fox.

    October 1, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  10. Eleanor

    NO APOLOGY!! And...Nancy's correct!

    October 1, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  11. Jeff

    Ok Nancy, per your quote, lets hear your apology for all the time and money you and the rest have wasted over the last years. The only thing I get out of all these Senate debates, is one side saying its the other sides fault. Prove Joe Wilson lied, put it in plain english that this bill will not apply to illegal's and that they will not be "grandfathered" in to keep you votes. Put this bill out 1-2 weeks so that " WE THE PEOPLE" can see what you are voting for,and we can contact our representives and either give our support or non-support and why.
    You need to remember that we are the people who will have to live with what you pass, not you.

    October 1, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  12. Joanna in PA

    The GOP has a double standard for everything. Do as they say, not as they do. They have been talking about Obama killing old people, death panels, rationing, that 1 in 5 women would die as a result of reforming health care, that he is indoctrinating our youth, that the derms want disable people to die yet, when the tables are turn and there true colors are shown they cry like babies. They can have all the affairs they want, they can shout out while the president address congress, but the dems can not question them at all. I really hope some of the Americans that are still calling themselves republicans wake up and demand the GOP party leaders( whomever they might be) stop this insanity and grow up.
    NO dem should ap0ologize the GOP hate mongers that just love praying on the weak minded in there party. They are shameful and Grayson was correct to be tongue and check here.

    October 1, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  13. jeff

    Does it matter who says what and who appologizes.
    Republicans and Democrats are ALL LIARS.
    Please tell me one thing that any of them say is the truth.
    They all play on words.
    They say one thing but mean another.
    Change we can believe in should be an independent not from either party

    October 1, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  14. WI Cheesehead

    GOP wrote a Medicare bill that was signed into law in 2003 by Dubbya that included "end of life" counseling, but of late they have found a new word for it “death panel”.

    I agree with Grayson – “GOPers are obstructing health care reform.
    Neanderthals (subspecies of humans or as a separate species)

    October 1, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  15. T. K.

    It's about time somebody in the democrats party got some man-hood and stood up. I am with Grayson all the way! The Republicans say Obama wants to pull the plug on grandma and they don't apologize so why should Grayson? The way to go Grayson.

    October 1, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  16. Nevada Mom

    Did Grayson Lie?
    2009 Death rate by country per 1000/persons
    Russia 16.06%
    European Union 10.28%
    UK 10.02%
    United States 8.38%

    Now which of these countries and have socialized health care?

    October 1, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  17. Obama 2.0

    No they don't, they have NO standard.

    October 1, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  18. RCasson

    Glad to see the DEMS finally fighting back. He told the truth, unlike that idiot Wilson!

    October 1, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  19. Lila

    I'm not a HUGE fan of Pelosi's but she's absolutely right here. There's a big difference between interrupting the president's speech to call him a liar and using your allotted speaking time to tear into someone.

    October 1, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  20. steve

    Why don't you both apologize and get back to work. All the political bickering is doing nothing to serve the people. The GOP is KING when it comes to bickering/whining/complaining/crying etc. But the Dems aren't that much better.

    Stop the name calling, play nice and get back to work.

    October 1, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  21. Jon Krieger

    Here is the so called "double standard" from the gop: they know that the american people don't want government run health care,and so they don't want it either!That's it!That's the double standard!Pelosi,you and Reid had better start searching the want ads because a year from this november you are going to be out of a job!

    October 1, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  22. ab from MN

    It's ok for the right to say democrats want death panels? but it's not ok for democrats to say republicans want people to die? Am I missing something or is the GOP hypocrital...again?

    October 1, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  23. Mike in Fl

    Leave it to a Republican to turn spin it so that using the word holocaust is offensive to Jews. I've got news for him, holocaust is in the dictionary. He said they needed to "end this holocaust in America". He was not referencing the jewish holocaust from WWII, but simply putting that right now the death toll from people with no coverage or people that cannot get coverage is beginning to equate to holocaust levels. I cant believe that Americans are still listening to these people.

    hol⋅o⋅caust
    –noun
    1. a great or complete devastation or destruction, esp. by fire.
    2. a sacrifice completely consumed by fire; burnt offering.
    3. (usually initial capital letter) the systematic mass slaughter of European Jews in Nazi concentration camps during World War II (usually prec. by the).
    4. any mass slaughter or reckless destruction of life.

    October 1, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  24. Deb

    Grayson is right and I made a donation to his campaign and I live in VA

    October 1, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  25. Debbie from VA

    Tell me again how Republicans are obstructing health care reform. The Democrats have the majority. And especially don't forget how they changed the law in Mass so they could add another vote. The Republicans do have a plan. Just because the Demoncrats don't like it doesn't mean they don't have one.

    October 1, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
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