Abandon ship: Blue-state Dem Jeff Merkley to co-sponsor Landrieu’s version of the “Keep Your Plan Act”

posted at 1:11 pm on November 13, 2013 by Allahpundit

It’s not just red-state Democrats who are panicking. Then again, Merkley’s not a typical blue-state Democrat. He won his Senate race in Oregon by fewer than four points in 2008, a year in which Hopenchange fever boosted Dems nationally. Not only won’t he have that working for him next year, he’ll have the albatross of Obama’s biggest “achievement” hanging around his neck. Time for him to do what little he can to shed it by joining Landrieu’s bill.

Last night a source told Greg Sargent that House Democrats were being whipped by the leadership to oppose Fred Upton’s bill, replete with warnings that rich liberals would turn off the money tap if they didn’t. How are the threats working out this morning? New from Sargent:

A senior Democratic aide tells me opposition to the Upton plan will be increasingly difficult to maintain among House Dems if the administration doesn’t offer a workable fix of its own. The aide adds the need to maintain House Dem opposition has been made more urgent by another problem: Senate Dems (the latest being Dianne Feinstein) supporting their own politically expedient “fixes” that could also undermine the law.

“Now that Feinstein has broken off, that makes it even more important that House Democrats stay together as much as possible — to keep Senate Ds from caving,” the senior Dem aide says. But the aide adds, in a reference to this week’s House action: ”We need an administrative fix that works before the vote.”

Twelve hours later, not only haven’t the threats stopped the bleeding, they’ve lost another key blue-state Dem in the Senate. Despite the painfully obvious fact that kicking healthy people off of cheap plans is how ObamaCare is supposed to work, the moronic Democrats in Congress who voted for it en masse three years ago and then stood by silently ever since while O repeated his Big Lie now demand some sort of quick political fix. I’m honestly curious to see what, if anything, Obama can come up with before Friday to placate them.

In the meantime, an interesting debate is happening among righties (and a few lefties) over what the GOP should do. Fred Upton’s “Keep Your Plan Act” is going to pass the House for sure, if only as a sort of formal censure of the Big Lie, so the debate is mainly academic, but it’s worth considering the implications for future O-Care votes. For starters, Erick Erickson thinks that the Upton bill will be quietly replaced in a conference with the Senate by Mary Landrieu’s bill, which, unlike Upton’s, requires that insurers resurrect plans that have been canceled. It’s a mandate, in other words. If House Republicans pass Landrieu’s bill, does that mean they’re now pro-mandate?

In one fell swoop, the Democrats will have the GOP on record saving Mary Landrieu’s re-election in Louisiana by casting her as the one who saved Americans’ health care plans, and also getting on record as really being in favor of fixing Obamacare with the use of mandates.

The GOP is walking right into the trap.

Republicans will spin that away, I assume, by saying that this isn’t a mandate aimed at limiting what the insurance industry can do, it’s a mandate aimed at the White House to force O to keep his promise by expanding what the industry can do. On the flip side, Conn Carroll argues that it’s actually Upton’s bill, not Landrieu’s, that presents the most political headaches for the GOP precisely because it gives insurers merely the option to resurrect canceled plans if they want. There’s no mandate that they do so. Which means, if/when insurers refuse to resurrect those plans, whether because it’s too logistically difficult to bring them back on short notice or because they’re too excited about the revenue they’re making off of the expensive new ObamaCare plans, the insurance industry will replace Obama and the Democrats as the main bad guys in all this:

Why on earth would Republicans want to bail Democrats out on Obamacare by supplying them with a villain to scapegoat?

More importantly, however, at no point does Capretta or Upton explain how they can guarantee the legislation will accomplish what the title says it will: that all Americans will be able to keep the plans they currently have.

True, millions of Americans who have not had their plans cancelled yet might have their plans saved… for a little while. But that still leaves millions of other Americans with cancelled plans.

Why do Republicans feel the need to make the same impossible promises about keeping your current plan that Obama did?

More cancellations are coming next year as the employer mandate takes effect and small businesses dump employees onto the exchanges. But that’s the Democrats’ problem, right? Republicans could offer a new version of Upton’s bill next year, after those cancellations start happening; if Democrats want to sign onto that too, that’s fine, but it’ll only make the industry’s adverse selection problem worse as healthy people decide to stay put in their old, cheaper plans. Essentially, by undoing cancellations periodically via legislation, the GOP and its Democratic allies would be making ObamaCare economically unsustainable.

But wait a sec, says lefty Brian Beutler. If Republicans are so opposed to the idea of people losing their insurance, how can they support repealing the law entirely?

The Keep Your Health Plan Act would be immensely damaging to Obamacare if it ever became law, and preventing it from becoming law will require Senate Democrats and President Obama to sustain real political damage over the next few weeks. But looking ahead, it will be useful for them to have Republicans on the record against forcing people off of their insurance.

Keep Your Health Plan would be consistent with the broader repeal campaign if Obamacare really provided no benefits. And if you’re cocooned in an impenetrable conservative information bubble, it must seem like that’s the case. But, even if you ignore Medicaid, which is expanding on a somewhat distinct path, the law’s already providing tangible benefits to tens of thousands of people. If Healthcare.gov is working in two weeks, that number will swell into the millions.

What happens to all the people with preexisting conditions who’ll have successfully enrolled on January 1 if O-Care becomes unsustainable or if, somehow, the GOP eventually manages to repeal it? Republicans have spoken for years of “repeal and replace,” not just repeal, but embracing Upton’s bill means they really do need to have their own plan to pay for the sick ready to go if/when Obama’s boondoggle finally loses Democratic support. That’s a nice problem to have, but still a problem.

Via the Daily Caller, here’s Kirsten Powers on Fox News last night recognizing the Big Lie for what it is. Skip to 2:35 for the key bit.


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