Senator Chuck Grassley is one of six senators who’ve gone to the White House this morning to talk privately with President Obama about health care reform. Grassley, a Republican, says Obama’s a "good person" with good intentions, but Grassley adds some major caveats.
"I think maybe he’s trying to do too much at one time," Grassley said during a recent telephone conference call with Iowa reporters.
According to Grassley, Obama didn’t serve in the U.S. Senate long enough to understand how things really work.
"Remember, (Obama) was in the Senate four years, but effectively only two years because he spent two years where he was hardly ever here at all — he was campaigning for president — so he really does not have an understanding of how Congress operates," Grassley said. "Now, he’s got plenty of people around him who can help him do it, and things of that nature, but it’s just a tough time for him."
Grassley said he dislikes Obama’s policies, but doesn’t dislike Obama as a person.
"You can’t help but like the guy," Grassley said. "As he’s talking to you, he looks you right in the eye and you’re the most important person in the world. He’s not like a lot of politicians who’re talking to you and then they’re looking around to see who’s more important than you are to talk to."
Grassley has been criticized by fellow Republicans for continuing to participate in behind-the-scenes, bipartisan negotiations on health care reform with a handful of other members of the Senate Finance Committee. Grassley also has drawn fire from Democrats for suggesting fellow Senator Ted Kennedy may not have gotten swift treatment of his cancer if Kennedy were in Great Britain.
"Kennedy, being 77 years old, he wouldn’t be treated effectively for it unless you had plenty of money and maybe in England Kennedy would have plenty of money, but 10 percent of the people are tired of standing in line to get health care, so 10 percent of the people buy private health insurance so they can go to the front of the line instead of stand in line with everybody else," Grassley said yesterday during a different telephone conference call. "Now, we don’t want that in America."
Iowa Democratic Party chairman Michael Kiernan issued a statement blasting Grassley, accusing him of a "bizarre" set of recent statements that Kiernan charges show Grassley is "out of touch" with the everyday concerns of Iowans.