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Corporate Shills in the Senate Are Trying to Hijack Obama's Health Agenda

Sens. Max Baucus and Charles Grassley have tried to shed Obama's health agenda in the name of bipartisanship.

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Second, Chuck Todd asked Grassley whether he'd vote for the bill if it was a good piece of policy that he'd crafted but that couldn't attract more than a handful of Republican votes. "Certainly not," replied Grassley. Todd tried again, clarifying that this was legislation Grassley liked, and thought would move the ball forward, but was getting bogged down due to partisanship. Grassley held firm. If a good bill cannot attract Republican support, then it is not a good bill, he argued.


Grassley, in other words, is working backward from the votes. If the Gang of Six reaches a compromise that the Senate Republicans don't support, Grassley will abandon that compromise, regardless of the fact that he's the guy who built it. The Gang of Six, in other words, falls apart if it can't assure a vote of 76.

Grassley is clearly the one who's off his meds. Democrats are rightly asking themselves what's the point of a 60-vote, supposedly filibuster-proof Senate majority if a crazy Republican from Iowa can derail their agenda? How can Baucus rely on Grassley? And why did Obama ever trust Baucus? Does he still? The answers to these questions will help determine whether healthcare reform can be salvaged in Congress.

Ari Berman is a contributing writer for The Nation, covering national politics and the 2008 election, and an Investigative Journalism Fellow at The Nation Institute.

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