5194644One of the senior senators schedule to meet with President Obama this morning said in a radio interview Wednesday that the president " really does not have an understanding of how Congress operates."
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also slammed "Obama-care," as well as the health care bills already introduced in the House and the Senate, saying "none of those would get my votes."
Grassley is one of six Republicans and Democrats hammering out a bipartisan compromise in secretive meetings led by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.). Baucus' "group of six" is meeting with the president today to discuss progress on their compromise.
Grassley said on the radio show that is optimistic about passing some kind of health care legislation this year.
"I believe (it will happen) because there's a spirit, even among minority party members" that things need to change, Grassley said. He gave as an example of the Republican party's interest in the matter the Senate Doctor Show hosted by two Republican Senators with medical degrees.
"They aren't for the Kennedy bill, or the Pelosi bill or Obama-care," Grassley said. "But they will tell you about the third of the dollars we spend on care are wasted in America, and we've got to change things."
He sharply criticized Democrats' plans to establish a government-sponsored health insurance option, alluding to two common health care myths that I wrote about today -- that health care reform will encourage euthanasia for seniors and that health care will be rationed. He used the plight of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), who is suffering from a brain tumor, as an example. (Read more of the 10 myths.>)
Congress must "change things in a way so that the government doesn't run our health care," Grassley said, "because in countries that have government-run health care, just to give you an example, I've been told that the brain tumor that Sen. Kennedy has — because he's 77 years old — would not be treated the way it's treated in the United States. In other words, he would not get the care that he gets here because of his age... It's a little like people saying, in a sense, when somebody gets to be 85 their life is worth less than when you're 35, and you pull the tubes on them."
Grassley said the president is a "good person" and "good intentioned," but that "he didn't serve in government long enough to understand how things work."
"I think maybe he's trying to do too much at one time," he said.
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Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.