The Corner

House Democrats Fracture over Canceled Plans

House Democrats are deeply divided about how to address the problem of millions of Americans being thrown off their health-care plans because of Obamacare, with an increasing number clamoring for changes to the health-care law even as White House aides pushed hard against a GOP bill to fix the issue.

At a closed-door caucus meeting in the Capitol today, David Simas, an assistant to the president and deputy senior advisor for communications and strategy, told Democrats that a Republican bill slated for the House floor would “put the insurance companies back in charge,” in the words of Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, a close ally of Nancy Pelosi who was fiercely opposed to altering the law.

But among those exiting the meeting, the momentum seemed to be with those pushing to alter the law.

“We have to come up with a solution to the issue of all these canceled policies,” said Representative Tim Bishop of New York.

“We definitely need to look at making sure that folks that had a plan — even though it might not meet the Patient Bill of Rights, it might meet the minimum standards — that, if people want to keep it, then that’s their obligation. They’re smart enough to understand what the plan is. I think the insurance company should probably have to disclose that that plan does not meet those standards. But if they still want to keep it, that’s fine. They’re adults,” said freshman congressman Patrick Murphy.

White House official Simas told Democrats the president’s team was working on ways to address the canceled plans but did not offer any specifics about the proposals under consideration, several Democratic members said. No timetable was given either, although one member said Simas hinted a proposal could come as early as this afternoon.

In a press conference after the meeting, top Democrats toed the party line, maintaining that the health-care law was not the reason people’s plans were being canceled and saying a GOP bill to allow people to keep their current plans would make the situation worse.

“There’s nothing in the Affordable Care Act that is requiring these policies to be canceled,” said Representative Xavier Becerra, the third-ranking member of Democratic leadership as caucus chairman.

“The problem with [the GOP bill introduced by Representative Fred Upton] is that it’s going to jack up premiums dramatically next year, so it creates more problems than it solves. We’re looking for other things we can do to address some of the issues that have been raised,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the ranking Democratic member on the House Budget Committee.

Vice caucus chairman Representative Joe Crowley said one reason Democrats are holding firm is that they worked so hard to get the law enacted in the first place, seeming to compare the situation to a battle in which soldiers find inspiration in the memories of their fallen comrades.

“My colleagues also recognize the sacrifices that were made by our caucus in the passage of this law and they’re committed to seeing this bill through,” he said. Crowley clarified that by “sacrifices” he meant the political “heat” Democrats had taken over enacting the law.

That heat is continuing today, with vulnerable Senate Democrats in particular taking big hits in public-opinion polls of late.

Asked about how dire the situation is, Representative Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said urgency is key.

“If it gets fixed and gets fixed sooner than later, the solution will be more important than the politics,” Israel said, adding, “I got the sense that the White House got the sense that it needs to be fixed.”

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More