From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:
The Upton Plan Will Never Get Enacted, but It’s Beautiful Anyway
We don’t know precisely how the rest of this month will play out. But we know it will include an excruciating amount of political pain for President Obama and Congressional Democrats.
First, understand what we’re talking about when we discuss the Upton plan. Erick Erickson worries that a bill offered by Representative Fred Upton (R., Mich.) represents a trap for Republicans and opponents of Obamacare. He concludes, “the Republicans should not be helping Democrats with their re-election plans, which is all [they] are doing with Upton/Landrieu.”
The concern has some validity, as is Ben Howe’s worry that passage any bipartisan bill would transform Obamacare into a disaster enacted by Democrats to a only slightly less bad disaster enacted by both parties. But the Upton and Landrieu proposals do a heck of a lot more than just help Democrats insist they’re trying to do something to help those losing their plans.
Moreover — and important — the Upton bill would not help fix Obamacare. To the contrary, if it were to become law, it would badly undermine Obamacare’s exchanges, which would then be drained of millions of (previously insured and hence generally healthier) people whom Obama wanted to compel to buy exchange-based plans by banning their preferred plans. In short, Upton would hurt Obamacare, not fix it — which is why Obama opposes it.
The defenders of Obamacare know full well that the Upton legislation represents a serious threat to the viability of the law. It would provide a lifeline for a viable insurance market outside of Obamacare’s rules and suffocating structure. Millions of Americans would flock to a revitalized insurance marketplace that offered lower premium products with better coverage. The end result would be one more step toward fully reversing the catastrophic mistake of Obamacare.
Who else just called the Upton bill as a tool to “subvert” Obamacare? David Axelrod.
Put another way, if the Upton bill’s primary impact really was just to provide cover for Democrats, why would Obama and his closest allies be fighting it tooth and nail? Why are they arm-twisting their own members to not vote for something that could provide them some political cover?
House Democratic leaders are doubling down in their opposition to GOP legislation that would allow Americans to keep their healthcare plans, even as the party is taking a political drubbing over the contentious issue.
Think about it. Nancy Pelosi & Company are insisting to their rank-and-file — approaching reelection less than twelve months from now — that stopping the Upton bill is worth taking a beating in the polls and coverage right now. The only way this stance makes sense is if the Upton bill represents a metaphorical bullet to the gut of Obamacare. It may not kill it immediately, but it will kill it eventually.
With one simple bill, designed to honor a promise the president repeated for five years, Fred Upton and his allies have built a nice little Trojan horse that implodes Obamacare within a year or two.
Right now, the congressman is now competing for the title of your favorite member of the Upton family against his perennial favorite niece.
You’ll always be special to us, Kate.
The House is going to take up the Upton bill. It’s going to pass. It’s going to pass with just about every Republican vote, and in all likelihood, a heck of a lot of Democratic votes.
Then it goes to the Senate, where three things can happen.
First, Harry Reid could treat it the way he treats most bills that pass the House, by refusing to bring it to the floor for a vote.
You’re already smiling, aren’t you? You’re already picturing the ad:
“A bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives passed the Keep Your Plan Bill. But Harry Reid is playing politics, not even allowing the Senate to vote on it.”
Ouch. Every Senate Democrat will be asked, on the record, if they agree with Reid’s decision. They’ll have to denounce him. The infighting and recriminations will be delicious.
The second possibility is that Harry Reid allows the bill to go to the floor, and the Senate rejects it.
Picture the ad, coming from the NRSC and various conservative groups.
“A bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives passed the Keep Your Plan Bill. But after voting for the Obamacare bill that canceled your health insurance, [insert Democratic incumbent here] voted NO — leaving you and your family without insurance.”
Brutal, just brutal. Under that scenario, the 2014 midterms turn into a Democratic bloodbath that makes the 2010 midterms look like the good old days.
Then there’s the third possibility . . . the Senate passes it . . . and it goes before Obama.
And then Obama can either sign the metaphorical gut-shot into law, or he can veto it.
He’s not going to sign it. Instead President Obama will provide the most excruciatingly painful veto in recent memory, as he becomes the president who assured the American people dozens of times they could keep their plan, broke his promise, and then shot down the bipartisan legislation to keep his promise after he broke it. You think his approval rating is low now? He’ll make Bush’s second term look like a joyous series of unhindered triumphs.
Nobody knows what Democrats are going to do. Because they themselves don’t know what they’re going to do:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday will convene a special meeting of the Senate Democratic caucus and senior White Officials to discuss the troubled rollout of ObamaCare. Reid on Wednesday told reporters he would not answer questions about the hundreds of thousands of insurance policy cancellations or other issues until he has further discussions with the White House.
Very soon, the question is going to be put before Obama, Reid, and the rest: Save the policy or save the party. Pick one.