Harry Reid, Under Pressure
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has few allies and a tough road ahead in the health care fight
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is about to endure a firestorm. Liberals, dead set on the public option they failed to secure in the Senate Finance Committee's health care reform bill, are putting serious pressure on Reid, a Democrat from Nevada. The health care bill is now in Reid's court, as he combines Max Baucus's centrist version with the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee's more liberal version, which includes a public option. The public option, as Sen. Chuck Shumer has pointed out, is in Reid's hands. Reid is even being pushed from within Congress: Rep. Alan Grayson, an aggressive House Democrat, is delivering a petition pressuring Reid. Reid, who is polling behind both Republican challengers in his 2010 reelection campaign, has a difficult road ahead as he attempts to appease liberals in Washington without angering conservatives and moderates at home.
- 'Time for New Leadership' From the left, Markos Moulitsas derides Reid's defense that he must appease Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe and overcome a Republican filibuster. "Republican filibuster? Democrats have 60 votes. There is no Republican filibuster, just a Democratic one. The problem is Reid's inability to keep his caucus together. His office can't even be honest about Reid's leadership failures," he writes at his site, the Daily Kos. "So once again, Reid is complaining that he doesn't have 60 votes, which is why they need to anoint Olympia Snowe as de facto President of the United States. Maybe SHE will get us to 60! But we all know Snowe has no intention of voting for real reform, and yet Reid (with White House backing) continue to let themselves get played." Moulitsas concludes, "The notion of 'leading' is clearly a non-starter for Reid, according to his office. Well, glad Reid's office has admitted as such. Time for new leadership."
- Bring Lieberman and Moderates in Line Liberal Digby wants Reid to threaten Sen. Joe Lieberman and other moderates into supporting reform. "This is all about Reid and Obama now. They don't seem to think they can successfully threaten recalcitrant Dems with the loss of their committee chairs if they refuse to allow an up or down vote," writes the liberal blogger. "If Obama and Reid can't get Lieberman and the rest of the selfish jackass caucus to allow an up or down vote on something that a vast majority of the American people want, then we have to ask ourselves if they really want to."
- Reid Pushes Back Against Libs Greg Sargent reports that the Senator isn't taking this lying down. "Reid's office is determined not to let liberal groups define his power in what Reid aides describe as unrealistic terms," he writes. "The specifics of the argument aside, the skirmishing over Reid's role is, at bottom, a bitter intra-party battle over who's to blame for the failure of the Dem caucus to maintain a level of unity that Republicans had no trouble mustering when in the majority. [...] Reid's camp argues that the realities of caucus politics are more complex than that, and appears to be determined not to allow the blame for Dem disunity to fall entirely on his shoulders."
- Is Reid Tougher Than We Think? The Washington Post's liberal health-care blogger Ezra Klein notes that Reid testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee to argue that the health insurance industry's anti-trust exemptions. Given Reid's leadership role, it would hardly be necessary for him to testify, except to send a signal to the industry. "Reid isn't an expert on anti-trust law, and as Senate Majority Leader, he doesn't spur legislative action by testifying before Senate Committees. He was really there to send a clear and unmistakable signal to the insurance industry in the aftermath of Monday's assault on health-care reform: Attack us, and we'll hurt you. Badly."
- Conservatives Unhappy with Reid Too The Atlantic's Megan McArdle pushes Reid from the right, scoffing, "Good luck with that" at his anti-trust testimony. "But it's hard to escape noticing that this basically amounts to political extortion, which is not the way our laws should be used," McArdle writes.