New threat to ObamaCare: Senate Democrats

posted at 8:48 am on February 8, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Maybe they’re just trying to get ahead of the curve — and the courts.  Senate Democrats have quietly begun looking at ways to replace the federal mandate at the heart of ObamaCare, according to Politico, which calls the effort a “threat.”  It might be intended as a last-ditch lifesaver:

A handful of moderate Senate Democrats are looking for ways to roll back the highly contentious individual mandate — the pillar of President Barack Obama’s health care law — a sign that red-state senators are prepared to assert their independence ahead of the 2012 elections.

They haven’t decided whether to propose legislation, but any effort by moderate Democrats that takes aim at the individual mandate could embarrass Obama and embolden Republicans who are still maneuvering to take down the health care law.

Sure, it could give the GOP some momentum, but that’s not why the moderates are looking for Plan B now.  The rulings from Florida and Virginia on the constitutionality of ObamaCare’s mandate has them worried that the courts might just overturn the whole enchilada, leaving Democrats empty-handed after the last two years. Those who have to face voters in 2012 are already looking at a rough ride; having ObamaCare disgraced before the election without any chance to rescue it will seal their fate.

In response, they are doing what the ideologues in their caucus refused to do, which is to look for legal ways to push taxpayers into buying health insurance.  That won’t be easy to do, especially after rolling out the mandate and provoking the hostility of the electorate.  Without the mandate or something very close to it, the rest of the bill won’t work; the must-issue mandates for pre-existing conditions will send insurers into bankruptcy, creating 300 million uninsured instead of 14 million.

The moderates will find that ObamaCare simply doesn’t work, either economically or legally, in any form.  If so, that should lead to a new effort at real, market-based reforms that remove third-party payers from the vast majority of health-care services.  If tax policies change to break the employer lock on health insurance and if the plans move away from comprehensive coverage to serious-loss coverage, most of the issues of coverage will cease, and prices will get controlled through competition — just as they do in the Lasik and cosmetic-surgery markets, which have never had the third-party and employer-based issues of the rest of the medical market.


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Writing on the wall finally?

anuts on February 8, 2011 at 8:52 AM

Even if they did roll back the mandate, they would roll it back in when the political winds fill their sails again.

Scrap the whole damn thing.

pugwriter on February 8, 2011 at 8:53 AM

They think the only bad part is the mandate. I disagree.

AnninCA on February 8, 2011 at 8:55 AM

LOL … It’s unconstitutional …

You going to take out the racism too?

tarpon on February 8, 2011 at 8:55 AM

The peasants are revolting ( yeah, they stink on ice, chimes in Dingy Reid ), and we must look like we care, because we gotta protect our phony baloney jobs.

Jerome Horwitz on February 8, 2011 at 8:56 AM

The rulings from Florida and Virginia on the constitutionality of ObamaCare’s mandate has them worried that the courts might just overturn the whole enchilada, leaving Democrats empty-handed after the last two years.

The courts might overturn the whole thing?

It’s already happened.

applebutter on February 8, 2011 at 8:58 AM

There is no way to fix this bill. Tinkering at the edges sends the wrong message that this fiasco is salvageable. I hope you’re right, Ed- that this second look by red-state Dems will lead them to conclude that repeal of the WHOLE THING and starting over is the only route.

They are really late to the party, but better late than never.

parteagirl on February 8, 2011 at 8:58 AM

A handful of moderate Senate Democrats are looking for ways to roll back the highly contentious individual mandate

….

This is quintessential msm.

They are moderates when they vote FOR it and they are moderates when they vote AGAINST it.

Being a Democrat means always winning.

artist on February 8, 2011 at 8:58 AM

Looking over their shoulders

Heh

cmsinaz on February 8, 2011 at 9:00 AM

FULL REPEAL nothing else will suffice.I wouldn’t trust these clowns with anything. They are just playing games to save their sorry backsides and also trying to deflate the Republicans, divide and conquer. The Republicans are starting to go soft on most things, as usual.

Sandybourne on February 8, 2011 at 9:01 AM

They think the only bad part is the mandate.
AnninCA on February 8, 2011 at 8:55 AM

And yet there must be doubts as to whether the whole monstrosity depends on the mandate. For the ones who are now contemplating this, who voted for this; they have no idea what they’ve done, when they did it.

anuts on February 8, 2011 at 9:02 AM

A caller on Bill Bennett’s show this morning made an excellent point. By giving Democrats pieces of the Bill to get rid of instead of the whole thing, Republicans are giving Democrats cover for their upcoming elections.

Cindy Munford on February 8, 2011 at 9:02 AM

Looking over their shoulders

Heh

cmsinaz on February 8, 2011 at 9:00 AM

More like whistling past the graveyard..:)

Dire Straits on February 8, 2011 at 9:03 AM

A handful of moderate Progressive Senate Democrats Ruling Class liars are looking for ways to roll back the highly contentious individual mandate save their “up for re-election in 2012″ behinds.

Fixed it.

PappyD61 on February 8, 2011 at 9:04 AM

Throw every one of them out of office in 2012.

They STILL didn’t get the message.

PappyD61 on February 8, 2011 at 9:05 AM

Tru dat dire :)

cmsinaz on February 8, 2011 at 9:06 AM

Removing the mandate causes the entire funding mechanism of the bill to collapse. You can’t have a bunch of goodies like a ban on preexisting conditions and allow “kids” to stay on the plan til age 26 without making premiums skyrocket to the point where either people can no longer afford insurance and/or insurance companies can no longer afford to operate.

The Democrats really f’ed themselves on this one. They’ll either have to scrap this entire thing which means they’ll be conceding Obamacare is a turkey that they wasted a year on or they’ll have to double down and leave it in place in which case everything that can and will go wrong with the the law will be on them.

Doughboy on February 8, 2011 at 9:07 AM

It’s Moderate when a democrat wants to repeal the mandate but when a republican wants to repeal it they are extremists and racists beholden to evil corporations.

I see what you did there Politico.

Mord on February 8, 2011 at 9:07 AM

+1 Mord

cmsinaz on February 8, 2011 at 9:10 AM

To all the Dems who support Obama-Care: Told You So. And, Mrs. Pelosi, Yes we are serious!

EliTheBean on February 8, 2011 at 9:11 AM

If it weren’t so serious, it would be kinda funny…

ladyingray on February 8, 2011 at 9:12 AM

full repeal…. and TORT reform!!!

charmingtail on February 8, 2011 at 9:13 AM

The Dems had their chance to vote for repeal, now they that are up for election in 2012 are stuck with their a$$es hanging out in the wind. Ask Claire McCaskill, it’s 0 degrees in her home state right now and I’ll bet she wishes someone would cover hers. See ya later, Claire.

MJZZZ on February 8, 2011 at 9:14 AM

The problem for the more moderate/scared Democrats — if they’re actually trying to find an alternative, and aren’t just posturing in an effort to convince home-state voters by 2012 that they never supported the thing in the first place — is that to the truly hard-core Dems in the Senate and House, this bill is the Holy Grail, and they’ll allow no changes of any major size at least until the Supreme Court rules on the challenges.

You’d need 13 Democrats in the Senate to roll Harry Reid in cooperation with Republicans to get anything out of there, and even if you did have a House-Senate reform bill, Obama won’t sign it any time before next summer, and only then if the polls and his advisers are saying “Sign this or lose the election.” So they can talk about reforming the mandate, but with most of their party thinking the bill didn’t go far enough, any legislative-spawned reform of ObamaCare is a pipe dream.

jon1979 on February 8, 2011 at 9:17 AM

They are really late to the party, but better late than never.

parteagirl on February 8, 2011 at 8:58 AM

Reading is hard.

txhsmom on February 8, 2011 at 9:17 AM

the must-issue mandates for pre-existing conditions will send insurers into bankruptcy, creating 300 million uninsured instead of 14 million.

Feature-not a bug. Then we go full Eurocare.

trubble on February 8, 2011 at 9:17 AM

Why didn’t they just vote against it when it was brought to the Senate floor?

Knucklehead on February 8, 2011 at 9:18 AM

This is a trick. Repeal the whole thing. If any part of it is left it will grow again.

darwin on February 8, 2011 at 9:19 AM

Screw them.

BUUUUUURN!

RedNewEnglander on February 8, 2011 at 9:23 AM

I wonder what Claire is going to do in 2013 when Missouri votes her out of office in NO-vember 2012? Go work for Jane Harman at the Woodrow Wilson Institute?

/s

REpeal, replace, and don’t give the Dims (Dems) an inch of cover… They made their bed; let them lay in it (again) in 2012…

Khun Joe on February 8, 2011 at 9:23 AM

The democrats always resist moral advancement. They fought against abolition. They fought against desegregation. And now they fight for abortion. Health care? The don’t care.

Mojave Mark on February 8, 2011 at 9:23 AM

Feature-not a bug. Then we go full Eurocare.

trubble on February 8, 2011 at 9:17 AM

Which has never made sense to me. The Dems(most of them anyway) want single payer. But a huge majority of Americans don’t. Do they really wanna be the party responsible for destroying our health care system?

Doughboy on February 8, 2011 at 9:25 AM

There is no such thing as a “moderate democrat”.

SouthernGent on February 8, 2011 at 9:25 AM

Missourians know Claire McCaskill. And Nebraskans know Nelson, voters of Montana know Tester.

They fool no one.

Marcus on February 8, 2011 at 9:31 AM

…By giving Democrats pieces of the Bill to get rid of instead of the whole thing, Republicans are giving Democrats cover for their upcoming elections.

Cindy Munford on February 8, 2011 at 9:02 AM

I thought that was the purpose of the GOP — to be duped into conciliation out of desperate, congenital fear of not being seen as “moderate” and giving the democrats cover. Do they have another reason for existence?

This is the true “threat” right now — that pathetic Republicans lose their nerve and make some kind of compromise.

By the way –

“…has them worried that the courts might just overturn the whole enchilada.”

The “court” just did overturn the whole thing.

rrpjr on February 8, 2011 at 9:32 AM

No. ObamaCare is the alien from ‘The Thing’; even if you chop it apart the individual pieces still manage to metastasize on their own into new and dangerous creatures. The only way to get rid of ObamaCare is to burn it to ashes.

Bishop on February 8, 2011 at 9:33 AM

Obamacare was promised to be not only a budget neutral bill but to actually cut the deficit in the long run……100% false.

….Obamacare was supposed to cut premiums…..100% false

……Obamacare was not supposed to reduce quality of care…...100% false.

……We were told by OBama that the Mandate was not a tax……100% false.

……Under Obamacare…if you liked your plan,your doctor….you could keep your doctor…..100% false.

Obamacare represents one of the biggest tax hikes this Nation has ever seen:

Comprehensive List of Tax Hikes in Obamacare
From Ryan Ellis on Friday, January 14, 2011 6:00 A

Read more: http://www.atr.org/comprehensive-list-tax-hikes-obamacare-a5758##ixzz1B9lQ9FTn

...and look who is exempt from billions of dollars in tax hikes:

Exemptions for religious objectors, undocumented immigrants, prisoners, those earning less than the poverty line, members of Indian tribes, and hardship cases (determined by HHS)

…it would be nice to see a little “cost distribution” from the socialist crowd.

Obamacare does very little of the things democrats promised it would do…. it increases debt,taxes,premiums,costs,and reduces the quality of care.

Members of Congress will not even go on this plan and the Obama administration has already dished out over 700 waivers to exempt businesses (especially their union buddies)from it.

Repeal the bill!!!!!

Baxter Greene on February 8, 2011 at 9:34 AM

Although it angers me, personally? I do think that the bluedogs are gone.

I think the same type is showing up in the GOP ranks now.

Look at W.VA.

AnninCA on February 8, 2011 at 9:34 AM

One thing I have concluded that Centrists, probably like me, need to grapple with is our own failings.

I think a lot of centrists liked the power of being the swing vote.

However, when it comes to making actual choices, the best method is to get behind a solution and then work to see it be effective.

Being centrist is good initially, in other words. We don’t tend to get caught up in rhetoric.

But once we decide, we need to back the solution. Nothing will work without political will.

AnninCA on February 8, 2011 at 9:37 AM

Being centrist is good initially, in other words. We don’t tend to get caught up in rhetoric.

But once we decide, we need to back the solution. Nothing will work without political will.

AnninCA on February 8, 2011 at 9:37 AM

And there lies the problem, I’m afraid. It’s HARD to come to a decision and not let the headcases on either side budge you because they don’t like it – and they won’t stop at much.

Dark-Star on February 8, 2011 at 9:40 AM

This is a trick. Repeal the whole thing. If any part of it is left it will grow again.

darwin on February 8, 2011 at 9:19 AM

Agreed. The entire bill, (as written), is one of the worst pieces of legislation ever to become law, and it must be repealed in totality.

Without the mandate or something very close to it, the rest of the bill won’t work; the must-issue mandates for pre-existing conditions will send insurers into bankruptcy, creating 300 million uninsured instead of 14 million.

What, for example, would be “something close to it”? The bill cannot survive with out the mandate, and its my view that when the SC throws this provision out, short of the whole law becoming void, I would expect the insurance industry to sue for a breach of contract—meaning they would not be obligated to honor their agreement without this provision.

Rovin on February 8, 2011 at 9:41 AM

Repeal the bill!!!!!

Baxter Greene on February 8, 2011 at 9:34 AM

Amen!..Hear!..Hear!..:)

Dire Straits on February 8, 2011 at 9:45 AM

And there lies the problem, I’m afraid. It’s HARD to come to a decision and not let the headcases on either side budge you because they don’t like it – and they won’t stop at much.

Dark-Star on February 8, 2011 at 9:40 AM

It’s a personal time of “fish or cut bait.”

But I’m still one single vote. It’s also not totally within my personal power, either.

AnninCA on February 8, 2011 at 9:52 AM

I’d like to see them go down with the ship…..with no life rafts….while in the crosshairs. Insert additional puns here.

jrab01 on February 8, 2011 at 9:58 AM

Missourians know Claire McCaskill. And Nebraskans know Nelson, voters of Montana know Tester.

They fool no one.

Marcus on February 8, 2011 at 9:31 AM

McCaskill is a very likable person and has a lot of business connections here in Missouri. There are enough hard left democrats and lean left independents in St. Louis and Kansas City to re-elect her. It will take a lot of work to get a Republican in office as Talent will not run.

Jo ann emerson may run but she is a moderate and pushes a moderate agenda in the house. We do have our own Sarah, Sarah Steelman, who is a fierce conservative and Ed Martin who almost beat Russ Carnahan.

Vince on February 8, 2011 at 9:59 AM

I’m sorry but ‘Moderate Democrat’ is an extinct species.

Progressivism wiped out them out.

ajacksonian on February 8, 2011 at 9:59 AM

This is BS! I don’t care what these so-called Blue Dogs say now! If they were truly fiscally conservative and constitutionalists, they wouldn’t be in the position to have to back track on their original support for this unconstitutional, and I insist, traitorous law! You reelect these clowns, they’ll go right back to their old ways for 6 more years. Well, 5 years actually, because they’ll spend the year before reelection acting like Blue Dogs in order to get reelected.

csdeven on February 8, 2011 at 10:00 AM

The “court” just did overturn the whole thing.

rrpjr on February 8, 2011 at 9:32 AM

They are still in denial.

Cindy Munford on February 8, 2011 at 10:04 AM

A threat to what? They just had their chance to be a “threat.” They voted no. 100%. End of story. You can’t get even a single one to cut off (that V word that sends my post to moderation ;-)) for sex criminals.

There’s just no way for any Democrat to ever do anything substantial against O’Care. They’ll say they’re looking at it. That’s all it will ever be. Whenever there’s a chance to actually do something, it will be 100% against.

MNHawk on February 8, 2011 at 10:04 AM

Missourians know Claire McCaskill. And Nebraskans know Nelson, voters of Montana know Tester.

They fool no one.

Marcus on February 8, 2011 at 9:31 AM

But a bigger point is made. That is to say, their public display is now that of doubt. Even under the supposition that they are just lying for the obvious reasons, their argument (justification, really) is no longer from a position of confidence (real or contrived).

anuts on February 8, 2011 at 10:17 AM

The “court” just did overturn the whole thing.

rrpjr on February 8, 2011 at 9:32 AM

They are still in denial.

Cindy Munford on February 8, 2011 at 10:04 AM

What good is a court ruling if there’s nobody to enforce it?

SKYFOX on February 8, 2011 at 10:19 AM

Obamacare is a threat to every polititan that voted for it. They will be gone. Game over.

BetseyRoss on February 8, 2011 at 10:19 AM

Dire Straits on February 8, 2011 at 9:45 AM

Good Morning Straits!!

Baxter Greene on February 8, 2011 at 10:19 AM

Writing on the wall finally?

anuts on February 8, 2011 at 8:52 AM

It’s such a s***y bill that “writing on the stall” is probably more appropriate.

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on February 8, 2011 at 10:23 AM

The wheels are falling off Pharaoh’s chariots. Watch out for that wall of water, boys.

paul1149 on February 8, 2011 at 10:29 AM

The moderates will find that ObamaCare simply doesn’t work, either economically or legally, in any form. If so, that should lead to a new effort at real, market-based reforms that remove third-party payers from the vast majority of health-care services.

Too many third-party-payer transactions are a big part of the health care problem. When grocery store pharmacies are offering most prescriptions for $4 to $7, what sense does it make to process the bill through an insurance bureaucracy?

And why are most medical care prices actively hidden from the patient?

These two practices practically FORCE inefficiency and waste into the system, and prevent the patient from making rational decisions about his own care.

Restoring the role of insurance to protection against catastrophes only, and keeping insurance out of routine transactions, would take huge unnecessary costs out of the system.

Has anyone else noticed that 2/3 of the people working in healthcare never treat anyone, but are simply sitting behind screens processing paperwork? Imagine this situation in any other enterprise!!

landlines on February 8, 2011 at 10:35 AM

They’ve already voted on Obamacare……….no backtracking!

lilium on February 8, 2011 at 10:35 AM

There is only one thing you have to know about the bill and that is that Congress and the Admin are exempt. That’s all. Kill the Bill!

rjoco1 on February 8, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Claire McCaskill made her bed. She was all over the airwaves hawking this POS. On the Jamie Allman show, she said there are just too many good things in this bill, that she just simply haaassss to vote for it. Now, she wants to roll the mandate back b/c she is getting mega heat for it? Especially after MO voted to not allow the mandate in our state. Eff off, Claire! You voted for this leviathan not once, but twice! You had your chance to show your “moderate” credentials. You chose poorly. We won’t forget.

JAM on February 8, 2011 at 11:05 AM

Threat to Democrats?

They will do their best to preserve Obamacare by nibbling away at the edges like rats sampling the cheese at a cheese bar. Put in a few holes and run for re election

entagor on February 8, 2011 at 11:40 AM

Is this part of Obama’s plan ?

Repeal of Individual Mandate Was Obama’s Plan All Along

Sandybourne on February 8, 2011 at 9:03 AM

Not literally his plan, but Obamacare is set up as win-win-win for the progs. Take your pick: Cloward-Piven collapse and socialist r-word, massive tax increases/wealth redistribution, runaway inflation aka taxation, or government bailout/takeover of health insurance.

The only way out is to kill the entire drooling life-sucking beast.

slickwillie2001 on February 8, 2011 at 11:44 AM

I cannot WAIT for Clare McCaskill to go down in ’12. CAN. NOT. WAIT. Of all the backstabbers in our Dem primaries she was one of the most blatant. the crxp she said about Bill after begging him to come help her get elected is unreal. frakker.

no amount of backpedaling will save her seat from the St Louis Tea Party and Dana L. and Gateway Pundit.

I look forward to donating to whomever her opponent is.

CAN.NOT.WAIT.

ginaswo on February 8, 2011 at 11:48 AM

If so, that should lead to a new effort at real, market-based reforms that remove third-party payers from the vast majority of health-care services. If tax policies change to break the employer lock on health insurance and if the plans move away from comprehensive coverage to serious-loss coverage, most of the issues of coverage will cease, and prices will get controlled through competition — just as they do in the Lasik and cosmetic-surgery markets, which have never had the third-party and employer-based issues of the rest of the medical market.

THIS

txmomof6 on February 8, 2011 at 11:59 AM

Lasik is not the best example. One of the founders was just convicted of putting a hit out on the other founder. Not to mention the fact that 10% of their customers come out with permanent headaches.

pedestrian on February 8, 2011 at 12:08 PM

The first step in reforming healthcare is the obvious one:

Get the government out of it.

That’s why it’ll never be “reformed”. Only screwed up completely.

BobMbx on February 8, 2011 at 12:12 PM

They cannot repeal just part of that manure monster. NO SEVERABILITY means its all or nothing and they own it either way.

They apparently read the writing on the wall.

dogsoldier on February 8, 2011 at 12:16 PM

the rest of the bill won’t work; the must-issue mandates for pre-existing conditions will send insurers into bankruptcy, creating 300 million uninsured instead of 14 million.

This has been the end goal all along. Kill insurance companies and get everyone on Medicaid/Medicare. Presto you have universal socialized health care.

angryed on February 8, 2011 at 12:19 PM

They are still in denial.

Cindy Munford on February 8, 2011 at 10:04 AM

Actually, they’re now in contempt.

rrpjr on February 8, 2011 at 1:13 PM

Sorry… Jon Kery already has a Coppee rite on the “I was for it before I against it phrase.”

CynicalOptimist on February 8, 2011 at 1:45 PM

Repeal the blew dogs in 2012 and you won’t have crap legislation like this passed in the first place.

chickasaw42 on February 8, 2011 at 3:21 PM

Why do the good people of Missouri keep electing despicable human beings like the Carnahans(dead or alive…) and McCaskill.

My word she is totally loathsome.

Inanemergencydial on February 8, 2011 at 4:11 PM

Allahpundit may undergo conversion, because after withstanding the immense political and media pressure heading his way, the divinity of Anthony Kennedy will be revealed. Or so I pray.

exdeadhead on February 8, 2011 at 4:25 PM

Backstop, indeed. The faux middle Dems are ready to pull the mandate as an effort to save this socialist mess. They hope to engineer a vote on a mandate-less O’BozoCare, which the GOP will vote to repeal anyway, and thus expose that the GOP doesn’t really want to “repeal and replace” it, but just to repeal it.

Which is just fine with me. Go ahead, Claire — make my day. Your career ends in 23 months, skank.

Jaibones on February 8, 2011 at 4:50 PM

Title is a bit misleading…the senate dems sure don’t want to get rid of it they just want to tweak it. Unfortunately for them, I think they might just have a hard time with the first part of the ‘repeal and replace’ GOP. (why can’t it be ‘repeal and repeal some more’ anyway?)

clement on February 8, 2011 at 5:27 PM