The firestorm over President Obama's "you can keep your plan" lie now threatens to singe vulnerable Democrats next year, so they're springing into action to try to force the administration to keep its word. Louisiana's Mary Landrieu -- an ardent Obamacare supporter -- is scrambling to undo one of the obvious consequences of a law she's voted to pass, fund, and retain:
Sen. Mary Landrieu said Wednesday she would propose legislation to ensure all Americans could keep their existing insurance coverage under Obamacare, a fresh sign of the political problems the law’s rollout has created for congressional Democrats. Landrieu, a Democrat who faces a tough reelection in Louisiana in 2014, said she would either offer her own bill or formally sign onto another measure that would ensure that the law would not force anyone off of their existing health policies. “The promise was made, and it should be kept,” Landrieu said in the Capitol Wednesday. “And it was our understanding when we voted for that bill that people when they have insurance could keep with what they had. So I’m going to be working on that fix.”
If that truly was Landrieu's "understanding" at the time, she's a moron. I'll let Steny Hoyer explain why. The more likely explanation is that she's a committed Democratic partisan who was willing to do the White House's bidding in order to drag Obamacare across the finish line via lies and sweetheart buy-offs. Her repetition of the president's "keep your plan" nonsense was either the product of (a) unforgivable ignorance or (b) self-interested cynicism. The latter option sounds about right because it also explains her sudden reversal on this point. She now professes to be shocked -- shocked! -- that people can't keep their preferred coverage. Republicans have been aggressively challenging Obama's ludicrous promise since it was first made. Those warnings fell on willfully deaf ears. Responding to Republican accusations that she's finally kicking up a fuss to cover her own political ass, Landrieu had the audacity to accuse the GOP of "making things up," and said she expects to be re-elected next fall. Your call, Louisiana. Flashback:
In September 2010, all Senate Democrats, including Landrieu, voted to reject a plan Republicans said would have killed Obama administration regulations that now have resulted in the cancellation of insurance policies.
Senate Democrats also voted unanimously to block a Republican proposal to delay Obamacare's individual mandate by one year, which led to the recent government shutdown. Now they're singing a different tune:
The unequivocal promises Democrats made in 2009 have emerged as a political liability for the White House and Democrats in Congress. And some like Sens. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from the red state of West Virginia, and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who faces reelection next year, have either called for an extension of the enrollment period or a delay of major elements of the law.
It's almost as if they're a bunch of loyal Harry Reid robots who are frantically scurrying to pose as independent-minded pragmatists now that voters are really angry. Republicans, for their part, seem willing to exploit their Democratic colleagues' richly-earned heartburn. Sen. Ron Johnson introduced his clever "If You Like Your Plan, You Can Keep It" Act yesterday. Here's part of the pile on press conference:
Johnson and Rubio both know that Obamacare cannot withstand this legislation. Not forcing people into more expensive coverage would uproot a major part of the law's redistributionist cost structure. Johnson's proposal, like other populist "solutions" to the current mess, would make matters worse. But it's outstanding politics. Will Harry Reid allow a vote on the bipartisan Landrieu-Johnson plan, which simply demands that the president keep his promise to millions of people? If it passes, Obama will be in the excruciatingly awkward position of being forced to veto a proposal that's literally named after the most famous promise of his presidency. "Own it," Democrats. I'll leave you with three points: The Left has taken to arguing that Obama's breached vow is actually good news because a lot of people's current plans are "junk" coverage that's been foisted upon them by "bad apple" insurers in an "unregulated" individual market. Obamacare's new (and more expensive) coverage will be "better," they say. (1) Even if that were all true, people were still promised the choice of keeping their plan, which millions now cannot. (2) The vast majority of current coverage is not "junk," and the marketplace has been very heavily regulated for years. Some people are being coerced into buying empirically worse coverage for more money, or obtaining benefits they do not need. David Frum calls this phenomenon the "Obamacare ripoff." Obama's blaming of insurers for dropping existing coverage is another preposterous lie. His law forced them to do so. (3) Trying to spin the indefensible leads to lots of uncomfortable stammering:
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography