House Democratic leaders tend to get a little freaked out by Florida Congressman Alan Grayson.
Television talking-heads get a lot freaked out by the lawyer turned Democratic firebrand. (When Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter and I debated Grayson’s aggressive approach last fall on Ed Schutz’s MSNBC Show, Alter argued that it was "great" for the congressman to talk "real muscular" on talk radio, "just not in Congress. I defended Grayson, as I have "real muscular" Republicans — arguing that Congress should stop standing on ceremony and start getting things done.)
Grayson stirs things up because, in a directionless chamber, he stays on course — and on message.
Grayson keeps getting it right when it comes to the health-care debate — as he has on the debate about auditing the Fed (where he has teamed up with Texas Republican Ron Paul) and his proposal to counter the U.S. Supreme Court’s lawless ruling in the Citizen’s United case by applying antitrust laws to industry political action committees and requiring shareholder approval for corporate political spending.
Grayson’s politically smart, legislatively nimble, willing to work across lines of partisanship and ideology and unapologetic when it comes to challenging corporate and political elites. What’s not to like?
And, now, Grayson is responding in precisely the right way to the health-care reform debate.
He’s disappointed by the tepid bill being advanced by the Obama administration and its allies in the House and Senate. But Grayson isn’t grumbling. He’s going to vote for the bill and then he’s going to move immediately to improve it.
Grayson’s plan is to create a "public option."
And he wants to do it the right way — by, as the congressman explains, "(letting) any American buy into Medicare at cost. You want it, you pay for it, you’re in. It adds nothing to the deficit; you pay what it costs."
Grayson’s Public Option Act, which he introduced just last week, has already attracted 50 cosponsors. And it deserves a lot more.
The health-care reform fight won’t be finished with the passage of the president’s bill.
As Dr. Gene Farley, a long-time advocate for a single-payer plan along the lines advocated by Physicians for a National Health Care Program, says that Obama’s proposal should be seen as a "building permit."