Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he has no apprehension whatsoever about launching into a string of town hall meetings in Iowa about health care. A town meeting hosted by Senator Tom Harkin on Saturday in Des Moines spiraled into a shouting match involving people on both sides of the issue.
Though uniformed police had to step into the center of Harkin’s meeting to keep the peace, Grassley says he’s doesn’t think people will get out of hand and start yelling at his gatherings.
"I’ve found the town meetings, whether people that agree or disagree with me come, as very, very important instruments in the process of representative government," Grassley says. "I’m one half of that process. My constituents are the other one half. We have to have dialogue if we’re going to have representative government."
Grassley, a Republican, says he makes every effort to stay in good communication with the Iowans who elected him, through telephone town meetings, regular mail and email, Twitter, YouTube, blogging and through hosting a weekly talk show that’s available over the Internet.
"Town meetings are maybe the original way and probably the best way because you’ve got a chance to look each other in the eye," Grassley says. "I welcome all points of view and particularly for people who feel that maybe I shouldn’t be involved in health care issues at all."
Grassley disagrees and says his participation in this debate is helping steer proceedings into more of a bi-partisan package, instead of letting the Democrats dominate all discussion.
Iowa Congressman Steve King says he believes the health care package may be killed when members of Congress return if enough people voice opinions against it during the recess town hall meetings. Grassley says King may have at least part of the equation right. Grassley says, "I think what he’s saying, that maybe under some circumstances it could die but I think that what it’s going to open up the possibility of doing things in a different way than Democrats want to do it in a partisan way."
Grassley’s scheduled to hold his first four town hall meetings tomorrow in Winterset, Afton, Panora and Adel.
The group, Iowans for Tax Relief, is urging people to speak out against the health care reform proposal at Grassley’s town hall meetings. The group’s news release says to: "respectfully and politely share your concerns about a single-payer health care system. Americans want health care reform to address problems; not reform which continues to erode away our freedoms."