Grassley’s “town hall” in Winterset

Over 300 people stood in a Winterset park this morning, surrounding Senator Chuck Grassley (R-New Hartford, Iowa) who stood up on the steps of a monument to take questions from the crowd that had gathered for his town hall meeting. LISTEN: 60 min  I'll be back with details.

Grassley's staff, perhaps not expecting the size of the crowd, did not provide a microphone and amplification system.  If you listen to the audio, you'll hear members of the audience repeatedly saying, 'We can't hear you."  About 20 minutes into the hour-long event, three unidentified people who'd been scurrying around showed up with a "Mr. Microphone" type system and it worked fairly well. 

Grassley opened by telling the crowd their fears were justified.  At the end, a woman in the back of the crowd told Grassley she was concerned that health care reform plans would give the government authority to make end of life decisions for elderly Americans.  While neither used the phrase "death panels" — Grassley said the fears were justified.

"You shouldn't have counseling at the end of life.  You ought to have it done 20 years before you're going to die.  You ought to plan these things out," Grassley said.  "I don't have any problem with things like living wills, but they ought to be done within the family. We should not have a government program that determines you're going to pull the plug on grandma."

Grassley, as you may know, has been lambasted by fellow Republicans for participating in the closed-door negotiations featuring six members of the Senate Finance Committee (Democrats & Republicans) who've been meeting for months to try to develop a compromise on health care reform.  Before opening the event up to questions, Grassley offered a defense of his work.

"You know the old saying, if you aren't at the table, you're the menu," Grassley said.  Some in the crowd chuckled.  "Well, I feel I'd rather be something than just the menu."

Here's a tad bit more on the same subject:

"I hope you understand that if you're in the room, you know what's going on in the room and if you're not in the room, you don't know what's going on and I think I have a responsibility to my constituents to know what's going on, wherever I can keep up on it," Grassley said. "And number two, f have a responsibility as a senior Republican to the 40 Republicans in the senate to be able to report to them on a regular basis what's going on."

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.