Grayson sweet-talks Republicans on healthcare reform

October 1, 2009

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.”
 
For more Reuters political news, click here.

14 comments

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Neanderthal here,

Most republican would rather take care of themselves rather than standing in line for the handout from our benevolent government. So, a public insurance policy is not required. Why do democrats want it, simple, they represent the people that can’t take care of themselves or those that are sympathetic not emphathetic. Any thought that this terrible speech is helpful thoroughly upsets me. Fla is getting to be another Ca. Good Luck!

Posted by jb | Report as abusive

It’s amazing that Republicans have the NERVE to demand a apology after MONTHS of lying and saying that Democrats were going to kill old people and comparing our President to Hitler?

Apologize? GRAYSON IS DEAD RIGHT, and it’s about time a Democrat stood up to filthy bullies of the GOP.

Posted by ignatz | Report as abusive

I am a medical biller by trade, people are getting screwed big time by Ins Co, GRAYSON IS RIGHT!! the repubs and Ins Co are robbing people daily, people are dying and they are laughing all the way to the bank GRAYSON IS MY HERO!

Posted by George | Report as abusive

I am glad a Democrat has finally realized what it takes to deal with the Republicans…address them on their own terms

Posted by bonnie dunn | Report as abusive

Obama doesn’t need the republicans. He has a supermajority, and the public knows it.

Obama is afraid to go it alone. Because if his healthcare plans fail, he and the democrats will take the blame. Especially considering the distinct lack of “change” people have seen lately.

So he wants bipartisanship. That way, the blame can attach to both parties, not the democrats. And is a sign that Obama is not the brave reformer he presented prior to the election.

Come on Obama. You wanted the bull, get ready for the horns. The longer you wait, the more the public smell political fear.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

The difference between Grayson’s statements and Wilson’s is that Grayson had the floor to express his opinion and was doing so within the guidelines of protocol, whereas Wilson was violating ‘parliamentary procedure’.

Posted by Lisa | Report as abusive

My adult son has a pre-existing condition an has been unable to get health insurance at any price, with any deductible.

My son-in-law was laid off in January and was able to continue his COBRA health insurance from former employer because of the 65% Obama stimulus subsidy. Good thing. He now has a pre-existing condition, and still has no job.

I manage a small business health plan. Two employees and two spouses. Premiums $32,300 a year.

Grayson is correct! The Repubs are trying to STOP health care reform for no reason other than to get themselves back into power. They have NO PLAN. If they get back into power, it is more tax cuts for the super-rich, and no health reform for the rest of us.

Posted by George | Report as abusive

Oh my God calling the Democrats liars! Oh my God comparing the president to an evil dictator. Republicans demanding an apology for something stupid the democrats said. Holy cow! Where were you Morons for the last eight years? Hope and change? Business as usual. Vote all these guys out. From now on I am voting for whoever is not the incumbent, regardless of party affiliation. These professional politicians are a disgrace to the founding fathers. Healthcare and retirement for one term in office – I think not. Vote them all out and make them get a real job, Republicans or Democrats they are both the same. Me, I’m an American and the hell with all these leaches in Washington.

Posted by Harry | Report as abusive

Gayson, like any typical leftist is incapable of debating the merits of the proposed plans so instead he attacks his opponents. He is an embarassment to the Congress, the United States Government, and the people of his district.

Have an Evil day.

Posted by DrEvil | Report as abusive

I think that none of this is going to get the bipartisanship that is hoped by the Democrats. The Republicans presented a recommendation to keep those under $250,000 from having to pay for the plan (thereby actually trying to keep the President’s promise for him) and it was shot down by the same Democrats that are saying the Republicans aren’t helping. Maybe if the politics of this issue were removed, then something could get done. As to Grayson, if that is how he feels, then he is not someone who should be a the forefront of trying to get bipartisan support. As to quoting a study of how many people died because of lack of insurance, that is very misleading since there is no mention of those peoples prior health issues (were there diabetics who ate a McDonald’s daily, or were there genetic diseases that are currently without cure). All of the discussion about this issue has been in bits and parts without all of the facts presented. Hiding facts (on both sides of the aisle) has not helped prevent the anger that is out there in the USA on this issue.

Posted by Bob | Report as abusive

It never ceases to amaze me how, if a Republican says something that the Democrats find offensive, they blow it up into something completely out of proportion, but if a Democrat says something equally offensive -even when it is a lie- they cover it up right away and claim it was nothing. The fact of the matter is that Republicans have repeatedly tried to include things like tort reform, letting insurance companies compete with each other nationally and several prominent Republicans, in the house, have offered comprehensive health reform plans of their own only to have Nancy Pelosi refuse to schedule them for consideration. Yet the Democrats cry out about Republicans not having plans. The Democrats lies and hypocrisy are overwhelming. Don’t think it’s going unnoticed. The Middle Class, who Pelosi considers to be Nazis and astroturf, are patiently waiting for the 2010 – 2012 elections and then they will express themselves loudly.

Posted by jrbj | Report as abusive

Grayson didn’t get the Obama memo to reduce the “47 million” to “30 million”, which Obama did. Coordinating lies require considerable maintenance. The various Democratic plans don’t cover everyone, though they continue to say otherwise in order to titillate their Liberal ideologues who don’t question the obvious. This propaganda from Grayson is reminiscent of the serial liar, John Edwards, repeating that there were 250,000 vets living under bridges. Few challenged him and few will challenge Grayson. Yet it is that pesky Truth which continues to get in Obama’s way and which the Blue Dog Dems honor.

Posted by ken | Report as abusive

i think rep. grayson is abolutely right,the republican’s have no plan and the democrats are afraid of the insurance industry. a quick and easy way to fix this mess is to eliminate ALL subsidies to insurance and drug companies. capitalism or socialism take your pick.

yes the republicans do have a plan that is to stand by and watch the democrats self destruct like they always do.They get elected on entitlement promises and a free hand out for all,but when these never materialize they get booted out of office,by disgruntled supporters not bothering to vote.If you watch carefully you can see the disenchantment in the recent blogs from people who are obviously not conservatives.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

[...] Sturm und Drang these days over a Florida congressman explaining the GOP health care plan on the floor of the house. In the never-ending Democratic struggle to win [...]