Saturday, July 25, 2009

the moderate GOP senators and health care "reform"

From Kim Strassel in the WSJ...

If there's one guy who may hold the whole health-care world in his hands, it's Sen. Chuck Grassley. That ought to have President Barack Obama worried.

The Iowan has for months served as GOP point man on ObamaCare. He has an unusually tight relationship with his Democratic counterpart, Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus. And he vowed early on that if there was a deal to be found, he'd find it.

That determination gave Republicans heartburn. Conservatives saw Mr. Obama's sweeping health ambitions, and saw no good coming from the Grassley-Baucus powwow. Fresh in their minds was Mr. Grassley's past work to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which the left marked as its first big step toward greater government health care.

Mr. Baucus knows that most major sustainable legislative achievements -- from the Reagan tax cuts to welfare reform -- have had bipartisan support. Getting Mr. Grassley's imprimatur meant getting moderate Republicans, maybe even a sizable chunk of the GOP. It meant shoring up nervous Dems. It meant a health reform that might last.

It also meant listening to Mr. Grassley. Committed as he's been to getting legislation, the Iowan has been clear on what he considers nonnegotiable. The White House and liberal Democrats have cavalierly ignored these parameters, vexing him greatly in the process. There are growing signs the Republican may exit the table. He won't have walked away; he'll have been shoved.

Mr. Grassley took President Obama at his word that the goal of this exercise was to lower costs and insure more Americans. But from the start he rejected the idea that this could be accomplished by government squeezing out the private market....

Left to their camaraderie, Messrs. Baucus and Grassley might hammer this out. But Senate liberals, who never wanted compromise, are forcing Mr. Baucus to choose between their bread and Mr. Grassley's butter....

Mr. Grassley goes his own way, and he may yet irk Republicans. But so far he's serving as a good litmus test of how committed the Democratic majority is to working with the other side.


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