Yesterday, the Washington Post’s Sean Sullivan noted that the “fix it don’t nix it” messaging on ObamaCare from Alex Sink failed because it just reminded Republican voters why they needed to send their own message to Democrats. I argued in response that Sullivan was partly correct, but the basic problem with that strategy is that Democrats won’t offer any “fixes” either. They won’t touch the law they created, not even in the chamber where Democrats control the outcome and could write the legislation any way they want.
It didn’t take long to find proof of this point. The Hill reports that House Democratic leadership has begun whipping their caucus to oppose a bill that would fix ObamaCare’s damage to Medicare — even though Republicans want the same kind of delay that the White House has been unilaterally imposing on everything else:
Democrats are furiously whipping their caucus against a Republican bill that would pay for a bipartisan Medicare fix by delaying ObamaCare’s individual mandate.
That’s a change: Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) did not whip a similar Republican bill earlier this month to remove the penalty for not buying insurance in 2014. The bill passed the House and picked up 27 Democratic votes in the process.
But Democrats desperately need to circle their wagons around the healthcare law after a devastating setback in Florida this week, where their loss in a special election exacerbated worries that ObamaCare will sink the party in this year’s midterm elections.
Hoyer didn’t whip the earlier bill in the House, in large part because his Senate colleagues would have killed the bill anyway. That may not be the case now, after Sink’s surprising defeat in the FL-13 special election. Red-state Democrats who planned on using Sink’s “fix it don’t nix it” strategy just got an object lesson in how dangerous such a vote would be if forced to take it on a House bill that passes with significant number of Democratic votes. Democrats have no chance at taking back the House, and now they’re just playing defense on holding the Senate.
Democrats deny that the election had anything to do with this decision, of course. “We were always going to whip this bill,” one aide told Jonathan Easley, even though the earlier, similar bill passed with 27 Democrats voting in favor. It’s just a remarkable coincidence that the whipping effort took place after Democrats got whipped in an election they thought they had won. Trust them!
Nancy Pelosi attacked Republicans for demanding a delay in the individual mandate to pay for the “doc fix” compromise reached, an amendment from Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), who chairs Ways and Means. “Republicans should stop these reckless and destructive partisan tactics and work with Democrats,” Pelosi said — but Camp’s bill would do nothing that the top Democrat in the White House hasn’t done himself. Barack Obama has delayed the individual mandate for at least two more years, thanks to an expansion of the hardship exemption provisions that make it all but impossible to enforce. The only difference here is that the delay would be legal, rather than an abuse of executive power.
This is why the Democratic strategy in 2014 is doomed to failure. They’ve continually lied about the impact of ObamaCare, from promising that people could keep their plans and doctors to lowered premiums to covering all of the uninsured. The “mend it don’t end it” messaging is just another shabby lie, only this one’s so threadbare and obvious that it’s going to anger rather than mollify.
In a related development, USA Today will publish an interview conducted by Web MD later today promoting the law he keeps attacking, at least in Pelosi’s view. The National Republican Congressional Committee has a microsite launching today called Political MD. The site allows you to deduce a diagnosis for Obama, Pelosi, or House Democrats by checking certain symptoms, such as “I keep losing special elections,” or “I keep lying to people about keeping their healthcare plan.” It’s an amusing fundraiser, and worth checking out.
Update: I got the name of the NRCC incorrect; I’ve fixed it above.