Fighting Baucus And Grassley From Within
The only way you can really get to a Max Baucus or a Charles Grassley is by threatening their job security. In particular, Grassley is up for re-election next year, in a state that went for Barack Obama by a fairly hefty margin. If I didn't know better, I'd say that Rep. Bruce Braley, chair of the Populist Caucus in the House, is setting himself up for a challenge to him.
Grassley used scare tactics last week at a town hall meeting in Iowa to convince voters that optional coverage for end-of-life counseling in the House health care reform bill would force people to "pull the plug on grandma" (even though he supported a nearly identical end-of-life counseling provision in a 2003). Earlier this week, Grassley told reporters that even if a health care plan included the changes he's been pushing for, he likely wouldn't support it if it didn't attract the support of more than a few of his GOP colleagues. Today, the Washington Post reported that Senator Grassley has begun calling for "scaled back" health care reform.
For someone who claims he wants to help forge a bipartisan health care plan, Senator Grassley sure isn't acting very bipartisan. In fact, he's been behaving like someone who wants to see meaningful health care reform defeated [...]
Senator Grassley is in a stronger position than just about anyone to bring Republicans on board with Democrats to achieve the health care reform we need. But when he uses the same rhetoric as pundits advising Republicans to "just kill it" and a Republican Senator who wants to make health care President Obama's "Waterloo," why would the President or Senator Baucus think he is their ally in achieving meaningful health care reform?
Sadly, it appears that Senator Grassley has decided to put his party before what's best for the people of this country.
The Des Moines Register has already floated the rumor about a "mystery" Democratic candidate willing to take on Grassley. Braley has certainly become more vocal in his criticisms. And the fact that Grassley immediately released a statement attacking Braley shows that he is sensitive to this rumor. I don't know if an announced challenge would put Grassley on the defensive, but it sure couldn't hurt.
As for Baucus, he doesn't come back up for re-election until 2014. But Montanans are split on his actions on health care to this point. 42% approve and 44% disapprove. Baucus has previously been fairly popular in the state, now a public option is more popular than he is, and if he helps to kill a health care reform bill, his numbers will plummet. The Montana Democratic Party is trying to cover for Baucus by sending around the Paul Begala article telling Democrats to accept half a loaf, but based on the polling, that's not working.
I'm not certain either of these two arrogant members of the House of Lords are reachable, but the road to reaching them runs through their home states.