Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa alleged Wednesday that President Barack Obama's healthcare legislation "isn't doing what it was supposed to do" and has failed to stop spiraling healthcare-premium increases nationwide.
In an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview, the senior senator from Iowa told Newsmax that voters may have to wait until 2013 for the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, because GOP senators don't have the votes to override a presidential veto. But until then, Grassley pledges to do whatever he can to defund or modify the president's signature piece of legislation.
"It's obviously not doing anything it's promised to do like keeping premiums down," Grassley told Newsmax. "The president promised that premiums would go down $2,500. Well, what people are going to find is they're going to go up $2,500, not down $2,500.
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"That's a $5,000 differential between what the president promised and what's really going to happen to the poor people, all of us I guess, who are paying premiums for health insurance," said Grassley, the ranking GOP member of the Senate Finance Committee.
The Iowa Republican said he and his colleagues will "make an issue of certain aspects" of Obamacare to "keep the issue alive and to improve the situation."
Grassley also told Newsmax that he finds it very ironic that AARP, which endorsed a healthcare overhaul that shifted $500 billion out of the financially troubled Medicare program to help pay for the new healthcare entitlement, notified its employees this month that their healthcare premiums will rise 8 percent to 13 percent next year because of rapidly escalating costs.
AARP stated it was changing co-payments and deductibles to avoid the 40 percent tax on high-end healthcare plans that is scheduled to take effect in 2018 because of healthcare reform.
AARP officials conceded that at least some of the higher costs now hitting 4,500 AARP employees, family members, and retirees stem directly from the controversial healthcare reforms that AARP supported.
"The fact is the president promised that premiums weren't going to go up, and it's going up. And the AARP employees are a perfect example of it," Grassley told Newsmax.TV. "The irony comes because the AARP was backing a bill that the president wanted that was going to have premiums go down. They have egg on their face for backing a bill that isn't doing what it was supposed to do, and their own employees are being hurt because of it."
Several other big organizations around the country, including aerospace giant Boeing, have accelerated the shifting of healthcare costs onto their employees in preparation for the implementation of Democrats' healthcare reforms.
Polls indicate the unpopularity of healthcare reforms was a significant factor in the historic landslide loss Democrats sustained in the Nov. 2 midterms.
Grassley added that it is quite possible the individual mandate, which fines people who refuse to buy health insurance, will be ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. That would negate the entire bill, he said.
Other remarks from Grassley during the wide-ranging interview:
- It is essential that Republicans and Democrats either make all of the Bush tax cuts permanent, or extend them all: "Because if we don't . . . we get the biggest tax increase in the history of the country even without a vote of Congress."
- A failure to extend the tax breaks would raise taxes to 2000 levels, but would have much more far reaching consequences. Among them, Grassley said: It would reinstitute the tax penalty on married couples, it would end the deduction of college tuition, it would remove the deduction for interest on student loans, the "death tax" on estates would return to the 2000 level with only a $1 million deduction, and rates for the lowest tax bracket would jump from 10 to 15 percent.
- Official proclamations to the contrary, Grassley said, it is clear that the United States still is in a recession. "You shouldn't increase taxes when you're in a recession, and with 9.5 percent unemployment, we're still obviously in a recession," he said.
- He supports a proposed amendment by GOP Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina that would ban all earmarks from legislation.
- He opposes the DREAM Act, and would filibuster it, because granting "amnesty to even a small part of illegals in this country through the DREAM Act is still saying you can break the laws of America and get away with it."
- He believes it is possible a candidate could emerge to challenge Obama for his party's nomination in 2012 but said such a candidate would have to be willing to visit most of Iowa's 99 counties. "If they're willing to put in the time for retail politics, they would have a chance of doing it, yes," Grassley told Newsmax. "But you've got to remember [Obama] surprised everybody with the tremendous organization he has, and even though he's less popular now that he was when he was elected president, there's still a tremendous allegiance to him in the base of the Democratic Party. And you'd have to work hard to overcome that."
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