Health Care Debate Turns Nastier

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2009 12:45 PM CDT
President Barack Obama.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The claws have come out in the Capitol Hill debate on whether the government should create a public insurance plan to compete with private insurers, Politico reports. One of the first tangible signs begins today with an advocacy group's TV ad campaign against Sen. Charles Grassley in his home state of Iowa. Grassley has been the most vocal opponent of a public plan, arguing the government is “an unfair competitor” that would run private companies out of business.

“He was the only one who injected that deep policy disagreement,” said an official at union giant AFSCME, which backs a public plan. “It was a wake-up call to people on both sides to begin the discussion.” AFSCME, meanwhile, recently severed ties with a coalition of insurers and consumer advocates seeking compromise. Though any GOP-supported public plan is likely a pipe dream, Grassley said he would for the time being “take the same approach the president takes,” which is wait and see.