Gut-check time for House Democrats: Was yesterday’s phony “fix” from on high enough political cover for them to vote no today on Upton’s bill or do they still feel the need to do something dramatic to distance themselves from ObamaCare? The One’s done everything he can in the past 24 hours to nudge them to oppose the GOP’s bill, from holding that shinola-eating presser yesterday in which he claimed Upton’s idea more or less as his own to threatening a veto of Upton’s bill last night. The House Democratic leadership is even preparing its own bill, “Landrieu-lite,” to give the more panicky members of the caucus an alternative to Upton. Given all that, if they vote for Upton anyway, it’s practically a vote of no-confidence. Precisely for that reason, plus the fact that Pelosi’s been dumping on Upton’s bill as “dangerous,” I’ll be surprised if more than a few dozen Dems cross the aisle. If it’s many more than that, political media will have a field day about the Democratic schism over O-Care this afternoon.
A little mood music while we wait:
President Barack Obama’s credibility may have taken a big hit with voters, but he’s also in serious danger of permanently losing the trust of Democrats in Congress. The Obamacare debacle has been bad enough that it’s tough for Democrats to take on faith that the president can fix the problems. His one-time allies are no longer sure that it’s wise to follow him into battle, leaving Obama and his law not only vulnerable to existing critics, but open to new attacks from his own party.
“I don’t know how he f—-ed this up so badly,” said one House Democrat who has been very supportive of Obama in the past.
Not good enough? Okay:
Rep. McDermott (D-WA) just now: "I haven't seen so much panic on this floor since 9/11"
— Luke Russert (@LukeRussert) November 15, 2013
A big Democratic vote for Upton wouldn’t just be a blow to Obama’s credibility, says Yuval Levin, it’d be a blow to the future of ObamaCare:
If many dozens of House Democrats broke with the leadership and the president to vote for the Upton bill (which would allow insurers to keep selling any 2013 plans they wanted to all comers next year), they might well never come back to the Obamacare fold, and the inevitable fights to come would be all the more painful for the president. If the Senate Democrats championing the Landrieu bill (which would impose a guaranteed-renewability requirement on all 2013 plans, overriding Obamacare’s qualified-coverage mandates) got their way, they would expose deep divisions in the Democratic caucus that Harry Reid has worked for years to hide (mostly by avoiding difficult votes) and put the president in the position of seeming to be reprimanded by his own party. If both bills passed, the result of a conference committee between them could well be unbearable for the president in both political and policy terms.
He comes to the same conclusion I did yesterday: For a party that was impressively farsighted three years ago in passing a paradigm-shifting health-care law even at the expense of losing their House majority, they’ve been freakishly short-sighted in panicking over the rollout with “fixes” that’ll only make things worse. It’s chaos, truly. Even our favorite Democrat can’t deny it.
Update: Uh oh:
One senior GOP aide tells NRO that Democrats’ behind-the-scenes efforts against the Upton bill are more concerted than some might think, though Democratic leadership isn’t formally whipping the bill.
“Pelosi on the House floor personally arm-twisting — never seen anything like it,” he says.
Update: I guessed 45 Democrats would switch sides. Actual number: 39. The final tally was 261-157, nowhere near a veto-proof majority but enough to make a point about dozens of House Dems going wobbly on this. Reid’s move now: Does he bring up Landrieu’s bill for a vote?