Sen. Chuck Grassley tells Newsmax that the Democrats are “riding roughshod” over the will of the American people by employing “devious ways” to push healthcare reform through Congress.
The Iowa legislator — the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee — also says the tea party movement will expand greatly in response to the Democrats’ legislative maneuvering on the healthcare reform bill, which he maintains “has a lot to do with the redistribution of wealth in America.”
The five-term senator was asked if the Democrats now have the votes in the House to pass President Obama’s healthcare reform plan.
Editor's Note: See the exclusive Newsmax.TV interview with Sen. Chuck Grassley below.
“If you ask 10 different people you might get 10 different answers,” he tells Newsmax.TV.
“I don’t know, but I believe that if they’re still 10 votes away they may not get the votes for passage. But if they’re three of four votes away right now, quite frankly, knowing how any president has the ability to twist arms or charm people, they will come up with the necessary votes, particularly when this president has made this such a personal drive of his own.
“I recently heard him say if this bill didn’t pass it would ruin his presidency. Well, if he’s worried about his presidency more than the country, you can understand why there would be so much pressure to get the votes to pass this bill.”
Grassley says if the healthcare bill is going to be defeated, it will have to be stopped in the House because in the Senate the Democrats can use reconciliation — which requires only 51 votes to pass a bill, not 60 to override a filibuster.
“But we’re going to have an opportunity to have a real debate about this and show the people we agree with them, that at the grassroots of America they don’t want this bill.”
About 55 percent of Americans now oppose the legislation, Grassley points out.
“So you have a case here of the majority party not listening to the American people, deciding on their own that they’ve got an opportunity, because they have the presidency and a majority, to do anything they want to do, and they don’t mind running roughshod over the American people. That’s exactly what they’re going to do.”
Democrats have been weighing the use of “deem and pass” — a tactic that allows a bill to be passed without members actually voting on it. Grassley says it has been used in the past, but never for a bill of this magnitude, affecting one-sixth of the economy, involving life and death issues, and costing $2.5 trillion.
“Deeming has never been used for anything this sweeping, this significant, and this damaging to the American people, and to freedom, because this isn’t just a healthcare bill. This bill has a lot to do with the redistribution of wealth in America.”
Likewise he says he has seen the tactic of reconciliation used in the Senate “but not for something that restructures one-sixth of the economy.”
Asked if he believes the tea party movement will be a force to be reckoned with in the next two election cycles, Grassley declares: “They already are a force to be reckoned with.”
He adds that if the Democrats pass the healthcare reform bill “in the devious ways of using reconciliation, of using deeming, where they don’t even want to vote on it — and they ought to have egg on their face for even thinking about those things — the tea party movement is going to expand greatly. And it ought to.”
With Obama in office, Grassley is now seeing twice as many people at his town meetings than he used to, and he is receiving twice as much mail, “all because people are mad, or they’re concerned, or they’re scared,” he tells Newsmax.
“At my town meetings the two words that are repeated most often is ‘I’m scared.’ They’re not scared just because we’re passing a healthcare bill, which is sort of symbolic of what has gone on in the past 12 months. General Motors effectively nationalized, the budget that was passed last year tripling the national debt, a stimulus bill not working, cap-and-trade that’s going to put heavy taxes on energy in the country — then along comes this healthcare bill and it’s kind of like the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“People are scared because of the legacy of debt that we’re leaving to our children and grandchildren.”
Grassley says that in his 29 years in the Senate, he has never seen it more polarized than it is right now. He notes that other major bills such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and civil rights legislation were all passed on a bipartisan basis.
“This is the first time you’re going to have major social legislation passed strictly on a partisan vote.”
Newsmax asked if the Democrats’ use of parliamentary maneuvers to pass healthcare reform would set a dangerous precedent for other parts of Obama’s agenda, including cap-and-trade.
“I think it’s really going to poison the water for anything down the road, particularly if they would override by [Vice President Joe] Biden being in the chair, for instance, and just outright disregard the parliamentary process and overrule a point of order that the minority might raise that everybody knows would be a correct point of order,” he responded.
“If they do that I think it’s going to shut down the Senate for the rest of this year.”
Grassley says he is disappointed that that the Senate killed a motion — which he supported — for a two-year moratorium on earmarks, which he calls “symbolic of the fiscal irresponsibility of Congress.”
And he says he “absolutely agrees” with Chief Justice John Roberts, who said the State of the Union address has deteriorated into a pep rally and he doesn’t see the purpose of the Supreme Court justices attending in the future.
During his State of Union address earlier this year, President Obama criticized the Court for a recent decision on campaign finance.
Grassley said for the next few years he hopes the justices don’t attend “because they were treated badly by the president of the United States, and the president ought to be the standard for civility in our political system.”
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