The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill this afternoon that is literally named after Barack Obama's most famous presidential promise. He has threatened to veto it, natch -- even though his own bogus and legally questionable administrative "fix" purports to accomplish many of the legislation's goals. (Reminder: Neither Obama's plan, nor any of the legislative solutions, are actually viable). Dozens of frightened Democrats shook loose from Nancy Pelosi's arm-twisting and voted with a nearly unanimous GOP caucus to send the "Keep Your Plan" Act to the Senate. Your move, Harry:
Thirty-nine House Democrats on Friday broke ranks to support a Republican bill that would allow health insurers to continue selling plans canceled under Obamacare through 2014, the first test of support on Capitol Hill since the law’s disastrous rollout. The House voted, 261-157, to pass the bill by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.). It’s a significant show of disloyalty to the White House, but House Democrats had expected the defections to be far higher before the Obama administration said Thursday that it would pursue an administrative fix to the cancellation problem. Obama’s White House vowed to veto the bill, saying it “threatens the health security of hard working, middle class families.” The bill is headed nowhere in the Democratic-led Senate, where a number of Senate Democrats have also proposed their own changes to the health care law.
So Reid will kill the "Keep Your Plan" Act to spare Obama the humiliation of axing it himself, but many Senate Democrats have their own variations on Upton's bill. Will any of them see the light of day? Senior Democratic aides say the leadership wants to avoid any and all of these votes, partly because they're concerned about the potential for Republicans to force painful votes on amendments. For instance, here's one ingenious item offered by Marco Rubio that Democrats want absolutely no part of:
Obamacare includes a provision that allows the federal government to funnel taxpayer dollars to insurers that face the prospect of losing too much money under the new health care law, and conservative critics want to repeal it. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the provision could amount to a bailout of the insurance industry, which stands to lose if the troubled Obamacare exchanges fail to enroll enough people to make the system financially viable. Obamacare enrollment has already been stymied by glitches at the healthcare.gov sign-up site and it could be dampened again under an administrative fix President Obama proposed this week to resolve problems with millions of cancelled policies. Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said the Tea Party-aligned senator and potential 2016 presidential candidate is concerned that the fix Obama proposed would increase the likelihood that insurance companies would need a federal bailout. And the existing law would effectively give Obama a blank check to deal with it, he said.
Who wants to go on the record in support of a massive Obamacare bailout of health insurance companies because the law is such a logistical mess? Anyone? Rubio wants to press the issue, and I'd imagine Reid will contort himself into a pretzel to protect his members from casting votes on this epic poison pill. The GOP should message hard on this proposal, though. The American public doesn't think much of Obamacare. They will have zero appetite to bailout a law into which they've already dropped $2 trillion, especially as it continues to betray and hurt average people. Meanwhile, healthcare experts and Obamacare architects are fretting over the ramifications of Obama's mid-implementation political twist, and the possibility of a death spiral. I'll leave you with some tasty Democratic infighting:
Wow, watching cowardly House Dems vote for the Upton bill in closing moments. Waiting for the full list.— Joan Walsh (@joanwalsh) November 15, 2013
Happy weekend, one and all.
UPDATE - Exhibit Q that the administration saw this mess coming, but pressed forward anyway out of sheer ideological hubris. Be sure to read Mary Katharine Ham decimating Obama's "ignorant omniscience" leadership style.
UPDATE II - I was on Fox earlier to discuss this vote. My Democratic counterpart played a whole lot of defense, and tossed in a baseless claim about the Upton bill for good measure: