Angry House Dems demand ObamaCare fix from White House aides in "heated" meeting; Update: "It's ugly"

Here’s your early-afternoon reminder that these people are either (a) imbeciles who didn’t understand when they voted for O-Care that mass cancellations were part of the plan or (b) lying schmucks who understood it full well but who are too gutless to take the heat now that it’s happening.


Did somebody here order the schadenfreude?

A private meeting on Capitol Hill with House Democrats and White House officials on Wednesday became heated when rank-and-file members expressed frustration about continued Obamacare problems, according to multiple sources in the room.

One congressional Democrat who attended the meeting said senior Obama administration officials Mike Hash and David Simas really “got hit” by House Democrats about everything from the troubled website to the broken promise that people can keep the insurance plans they like…

Several lawmakers — even liberals who adamantly support Obamacare — stood and warned the officials that the White House must come up with a solution before the vote [on Fred Upton’s “Keep Your Plan Act”]…

Democratic Rep. Jose Serrano of New York told reporters he thinks something will “develop over the next 24 hours.”

And for dessert:

The fact that they also screamed about the website and didn’t emerge from the meeting conciliated makes me think the White House’s denial this morning about missing the November 30th deadline was indeed just a pro forma thing designed to buy time before admitting final defeat. As for the sturm and drang over Fred Upton’s and Mary Landrieu’s bills, Obama has two potential failsafes. Harry Reid could kill Landrieu’s bill in the Senate so that no one has a chance to vote on it, but red-state Democrats like Mark Pryor, Kay Hagan, and of course Landrieu herself won’t like that. They need to do something to show their constituents that they’re trying to get plans un-canceled; if Reid doesn’t let them, he may end up as the Senate minority leader in 2015. If he brings the bill to the floor, though, it might very well reach 60 votes and pass — and he won’t be able to count on Boehner and the GOP killing it in the House. None other than Fred Upton himself said today that Landrieu’s bill might actually be better than his own. If it gets through the Senate, I assume Boehner will bring it to a vote in the House just to maximize the humiliation for Obama as Democrats cross the aisle en masse to vote for it.


That would leave Obama with his last failsafe — a presidential veto. But that too would be hugely risky for Democrats, even ones who voted for Landrieu’s bill. For better or worse, the president is the figurehead of his party. When his approval ratings end up in the tank, so too do the fortunes of his party’s congressional members in the midterms. If he vetoes it, the GOP will destroy him for singlehandedly condemning millions of canceled consumers to their new, more expensive plans. If he signs it, though, he’s willingly sabotaging ObamaCare in the name of protecting his party. Remember: By bringing back canceled plans, both Upton’s bill and Landrieu’s bill are destroying the economic assumptions on which the new, post-ObamaCare insurance regime has been built. The only way O-Care works is by moving healthy people into new, more expensive coverage; if you let them return to their old plans, there’s no new revenue to cover preexisting conditions that insurers are now legally required to pay for. In fact, Landrieu’s bill is even worse for the law than Upton’s is because it requires insurers to bring back canceled plans rather than giving them the option and it would operate indefinitely rather than just for 2014. It’s not as comprehensive as a bill to repeal O-Care outright would be, but it’s a step in that direction by making the new economics of health insurance unsustainable. So that’s O’s choice if this lands on his desk. Either he can knife consumers with canceled policies in the back by confirming that he never meant for them to keep their plans or he can knife his pals in the insurance industry in the bank by validating the giant mess that Landrieu’s trying to make for them. Government health-care fever — catch it.


Update: Schmucktastic.

“They’re telling us all about actuarial tables and all about how the process would work and all of this is fine and great and it would be great in a classroom and you would get an A on your test, but this isn’t about getting an A on your test, this is about ads,” said Rep. Steve Cohen, a Memphis liberal…

“It’s ugly,” said one Democratic source in the meeting. “There’s no way Obama and Pelosi will let their legacy go down in flames. I just wouldn’t want to be from a swing district right now. Or anything that closely resembles one.”…

If they stand with the White House on Friday’s vote, they face the worst of all possible worlds: Campaign ads pointing out that they not only backed Obama’s broken promise but also opposed legislation to fix it. The White House has two days, they warned, to come up with an alternative way to ensure Americans aren’t thrown off their health plans. The president has vowed to find an administrative fix—rather than a legislative one—but that has proved difficult so far.

If O-Care starts to fall apart because House Dems begin voting with the GOP en masse, that’s its epitaph. This isn’t about risk pools and premiums and egghead stuff that might conceivably make the law sustainable in the near term at least. “This is about ads.”

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