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The Untruths of Grassley and the Gaffes of Graham

The man who is Twittering away the best chance of reforming our health care system in a generation has spoken on Twitter again. This time, Grassley is encouraging the protesters at town meetings to ask questions that have no basis in facts, and raised questions about his motives in the process.

This morning Grassley took to Twitter to declare that the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) bill text had not been released. In two successive Twitters, Grassley made the allegation that the text of the HELP Committee’s bill had not been released, and that Chris Dodd was hiding the bill from the Congressional Budget Office because it would be very costly.

"Hear Sen HELP Com will not print final version of healthReform bill and CBO score it until aftr Aug recess. Mayb they don’t people to kno$$$"

"Why won’t Dems put out Text and cost of their HELP comm bill? Are theyafraid of negative public reaction during Aug recess? Topic forTownHal’

Beneath the laughably bad grammar, is the typical Republican talking point which claims that no one has read the bill. The truth is that many of have actually read the bill. The truth is that the bill is available for anybody to read online, and has been up at the HELP Committee’s website for over a month now. It can be found here.

The reason Grassley and others in the Republican Party are willing to lie about whether the bill is available for reading is that they know what is in the bill would drastically improve our health care system. Grassley should know that the Congressional Budget Office scored the cost of the HELP committee bill at $600 billion over ten years – 3/5ths the rumored cost of Grassley’s Secretive Six bill, which also happens to be the only bill that isn’t available for reading or scoring.

The Republicans’ motives for misleading the public about the contents of the health care reform bills are very clear. They know that the public option is extraordinarily popular with the public–and they know that, if a public option passes, it’ll be extremely effective. In an interview with Ezra Klein, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) declared that the public option was dead before admitting that governments are more efficient than for-profit enterprises at providing health insurance to citizens:

"My belief is that no private-sector entity can survive over a long period of time competing against the government."

Of course, this isn’t news to those of us who know that our current health care system, despite spending the most per capita on health care in the world, gets middling results. A study from the World Health Organization found that the US health care system ranks 37th in the world–behind such economic powerhouses as Costa Rica, Chile and Morocco.

Republicans like Grassley and Graham know that countries like Germany, Switzerland, and Holland–all countries which regulate the behavior of insurers, limit profits, and provide universal coverage–spend about 2/3rds of what we do on health care, and get better outcomes to boot.

Grassley and Graham think that the public might be happy with a health care reform that results in a cheaper and better health care system. For two politicians who have turned an ideological skepticism about government involvement in the economy into a campaign donation factory, that possibility is very threatening.

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