Grayson sweet-talks Republicans on healthcare reform
In the never-ending Democratic struggle to win bipartisan support for healthcare reform, Representative Alan Grayson is probably not the guy to send to the House floor to woo Republicans.
Democrats, he said in a floor speech a couple days ago, want to fix the U.S. healthcare system by expanding insurance coverage to the 47 million people who do not have it.
“The Republican plan,” he said, is basically: “Don’t get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly.”
He brought along big posterboard signs to underscore the idea in the event somebody found his point too subtle.
Republicans were not happy with this characterization of their ideas for healthcare and suggested an apology was in order.
A much-chastened Grayson returned to the House floor Wednesday to make amends.
“Several Republicans asked me to apologize. Well, I would like to apologize. I would like to apologize to the dead,” he said.
He cited a study saying 44,789 Americans die every year because they have no health insurance.
“That’s more than 10 times the number of Americans who have died in the war in Iraq. It’s more than 10 times the number of Americans who died in 9/11.”
“I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven’t voted sooner to end this Holocaust in America.”
Grayson expanded upon his remarks later on CNN after being asked exactly what he meant by saying the Republicans want people to get sick and die quickly.
“What I mean is they’ve got no plan. It’s been 24 hours since I said that. Where is the Republican plan? We’re all waiting to see something — to take care of people with pre-existing conditions, to take care of the 47 million people in this country who have no coverage at all. There is no plan, and that’s what I meant when I said the Republican plan really is: Don’t get sick. And if you do get sick, die quickly.”
Representative Joe Wilson, who shouted “You lie” at Obama during a joint session of Congress and quickly said he was sorry, declined to get into the apology issue in an interview with Fox News.
But he said Grayson was wrong about Republican healthcare ideas.
“The Republican plan is really one that it provides for affordability, accessibility,” he said. “It provides for helping with pre-existing conditions. It is a very positive, targeted health insurance reform.”
Representative Barney Frank, a Democrat, told the Lou Dobbs radio program Grayson’s performance “wasn’t civil at all” but added he saw “a little bit of excessive indignation and sound and fury” in the outraged Republican response.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to avoid the issue when asked about it at her weekly press conference. Pressed on whether Grayson should apologize, she said, “If anybody is going to apologize, everybody should apologize. You know?”
Asked what the president thought of the remarks, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs fled to the high ground.
“We ought to be able,” he said, “to have an honest, calm debate about healthcare, the need for healthcare reform, without disparaging each other.”
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