Nelson Wins, Grassley Loses

Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., managed to wrangle a $100 million gift for his home state during the protracted negotiations over health care reform. The money will be used to defray Nebraska’s costs of providing Medicaid insurance to the poor. Nelson is taking a lot of grief for this from Cornhusker Republicans who would like to replace him.

What did Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, get for his lengthy spate of so-called negotiations over the health bill in the Senate Finance Committee?


Grassley refused to negotiate in good faith with the Democratic majority. Grassley, ranking member of Finance, dragged out the process long enough so all the lies about the legislation could properly fulminate in the form of town meetings where the senior senator from Iowa demonstrated that he has no spine. One guy at a Pocahontas town meeting said we should all get our guns and head for Washington. Grassley said nothing to rebut him.

The Republicans wanted to kill the health bill out of the gate. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC, said the defeat would be President Obama’s “Waterloo.”

For their cynicism, they may have scored some points that can be banked for this year’s mid-term elections.

We would remind voters that Grassley got nothing for Iowa.

He did not win better Medicare reimbursement for rural hospitals. He did not get the state any help for Medicaid. He did nothing to protect farmers and independent business people from arbitrary insurance company rules that could deny them vital coverage.


Grassley wasn’t even able to kill the bill. He was outdone by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

So what good is he if he can’t bring home the pork like Nelson or Harkin, nor can he carry the day on principle?

Grassley complained and lied in an effort to endear himself to the base, as if he needed to.

He was elected to serve Iowa. Unfortunately, Grassley took a pass when he had an opportunity. Not so Nelson. He grabbed the brass ring when it came around.

As for Harkin, he said that Nelson’s hostage bounty may help all states — Iowa first — in remediating Medicaid expenses. He might have kicked open a huge door that could give states immediate relief from a federal mandate. Nelson says that’s what he had in mind to begin with. Whatever.

Grassley could only stand by and grouch.

Art Cullen is editor of The Storm Lake (Iowa) Times. email:

From The Progressive Populist, Febuary 1, 2010

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