ABC’s Z. Byron Wolf reports from Capitol Hill: Republicans and Democrats angle around each other and try to influence public opinion, but when it boils down to it, they’re just trying to influence the American household writ large, according to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the plainspoken Senator farmer and ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee explained on the Senate floor today.
If the United States is a marriage of ideas into a union, he seemed to be saying Democrats and Republicans should be treating each other like they’re a loving and respectful husband and wife.
"We’ve been told by the president and members of the Democratic leadership that this bill is open to improvement by amendment, and I’m hopeful we will see that followed through," he said, drawing the comparison between writing the $800 billion plus stimulus package and a married couple buying a new car (which any married couple with a new car will tell you is, to say the least, traumatic).
He read a quote attributed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: "Yes. we wrote the bill. Yes, we won the election," he said she said.
That’s no way to run the government, he argued; its certainly no way to run a household.
"If I can define bipartisanship, just for a minute," Grassley said, "It’s a little bit like buying a new car. If it’s going to be a family operation, Chuck Grassley doesn’t go up to Barbara Grassley and say, "I’ve made a determination that we’re going to buy a ford Taurus and it’s going to be blue and it’s going to have these accessories, etc, etc."
Perhaps demonstrating why he has been married since 1954, Grassley said, "Chuck and Barbara Grassley sit down and we decide what color car we want, what brand do we want, what do we want for accessories, et cetera, et cetera. You go to the dealer and you have a uniform family decision of what kind of a car you buy. And that’s the way bipartisanship ought to work here. That’s the way I define it. That’s the way it has worked over a long period of time. But it’s not the way it worked in the product that we have before us."
No Republicans supported the $819 billion version of the stimulus package that passed in the House of Representatives last week. No Republicans in the Senate have yet voiced support for the nearly $900 billion version currently being debated in the Senate.
Like stimulus bills for the American taxpayer, car buying is a rarity in the Grassley household – one "old" Ford Taurus and two Lincolns, both "8-10" years old, according to his office.
Although stimulus bills are becoming more common in Congress. During the debate over the 2008 stimulus bill – remember those rebate checks the IRS cut to taxpayers? — he used chickens and eggs and simple math to question whether the plan would work.
Detroit automakers — or Ford, since the Grassley house seems to be a Ford house — would probably send Grassley a thank you note if he upgraded his Taurus.