Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is standing by his plan to raise federal cigarette taxes to pay for health insurance for more children nationwide. All nine Republican presidential candidates in Des Moines for Sunday’s debate shot the plan down, with some calling it a move toward socialized medicine in America. Grassley, a Republican, says the candidates must not have done their homework.
Grassley says: "My colleagues I don’t think have studied the proposal. They were talking partly about a 110-billion dollar proposal that passed the House the same week that the 35-billion dollar proposal passed the Senate, so I’m not really sure whether they were against the bill that I was working on or the bill that passed the House."
Grassley says Senate Republicans were divided on the measure, with 18 for it and 31 against. He adds, President Bush’s version of the health care package was only for about five-billion dollars in spending, while the Democrats proposed a 50-billion dollar plan.
Grassley says: "Nothing gets done if it isn’t bipartisan in the U.S. Senate, so I came up with 35-billion dollars. I figured saving 15-billion dollars from what the extreme liberals in the Senate wanted to spend was a pretty good compromise. Obviously, these presidential candidates didn’t agree with that."
Iowa’s other U.S. Senator, Democrat Tom Harkin, also helped in crafting the bill. Harkin says it would make America "a much better country. Our kids are healthier, our families are better, our economy’s stronger — if these kids get good, preventative care when they’re young."