Putting pressure on Grassley

PUTTING PRESSURE ON GRASSLEY…. To hear Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) tell it, he has no choice but to move away from health care reform because, he says, that’s what Iowans have been telling him to do. “If town meetings are going to mean anything, if democracy is going to mean anything, then you listen to your people and you act accordingly,” he said late last week.

This week, if Grassley turns on his television, he’ll listen to someone else. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America are launching a new ad this week, encouraging the conservative Iowan senator to not only support reform, but also to back a public option.

The groups couldn’t have found a better person for the ad. Instead of an outsider, the pro-reform message comes from Kevin Shilling of Greenfield, Iowa, who explains from the outset that he “voted for Reagan, Nixon, George W. Bush and Senator Chuck Grassley too.” He’s also a 24-year veteran of the U.S. Army who says Iowans of both parties “want the public insurance option.”

“I voted for Senator Grassley in the past,” Shilling adds. “But when Grassley takes over $2 million from the big health and insurance industries that oppose reform and then says he won’t give Iowans the choice of a public option, I have to ask: Senator, whose side are you on?”

The ad is slated to run 200 times in four Iowa markets and 100 times in DC this week, though DFA and the PCCC hope to keep it going longer.

It’s bound to get Grassley’s attention. Whether it changes his attitude is another matter. The senator made it overwhelmingly clear last week that he’s inclined to listen to loud protestors precisely because they’re loud protestors. Chances are, Kevin Shilling will be easier for him to overlook.

When Grassley says he feels compelled to “listen to his people,” he means people who’ll give him an excuse to do what he wants to do anyway.