November 14, 2013

I have a question for queasy Democrats. Do you really believe entering into a partnership with Republicans to undermine the Affordable Care Act will give you political leverage in 2014?

New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Anxious congressional Democrats are threatening to abandon President Obama on a central element of his signature health care law, voicing increasing support for proposals that would allow Americans to retain the health insurance coverage they are losing because of the Affordable Care Act.

The dissent comes as the Obama administration released enrollment figures Wednesday that fell far short of expectations, and as House Republicans continued their sharp criticism of administration officials at congressional hearings examining the performance of the health care website and possible security risks of the online insurance exchanges.

In addition, a vote is scheduled Friday in the Republican-controlled House on a bill that would allow Americans to keep their existing health coverage through 2014 without penalties. The measure, drafted by Representative Fred Upton, the Michigan Republican who is the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, is opposed by the White House, which argues that it would severely undermine the Affordable Care Act by allowing insurance companies to continue to sell health coverage that does not meet the higher standard of Mr. Obama’s health care law.

And now Mary Landrieu is going forward with a Senate version of the same idea, which sends a message spiked with right-wing talking points while making a mockery of the claim that the Affordable Care Act was all about providing...affordable care.

Where is the Senate outrage over insurers' intentional sabotage of the ACA? Where are the Senators raging about how they're playing the inside AND the outside game all at the same time? Are we all doomed to the sure and rapid slavery of false, right-wing media narratives while insurers' temper tantrums are met with gentle reassurances? It seems so.

Junk policies today are junk policies tomorrow, grandfathered or not. We either claim as a value the idea that affordable health care is accessible to everyone, or we just roll over and let effing United Health and Anthem write the rules. Which is it going to be?

If Democrats are so concerned with enabling people to keep crappy insurance that covers almost nothing, then perhaps they might also pander to the rest of us who have said that a Medicare buy-in would have kept those insurers more honest.

In other words, that Landrieu "if you like your plan you can keep it" bill should never come to the floor without a parallel "if you like Medicare, you can buy it."

Democrats need to learn to play on their own field instead of constantly giving up yardage to right-wing whiners.


Democrats cannot run away from this. They shouldn't even try. In fact, if they're worried about keeping their seats they need to convince their constituents to hang in there and explain to them how the reforms will end up being a net plus for them in the long run. Every Democrat in the country has Obamacare wrapped around them very tightly whether they like it or not. So they'd better do everything in their power to make sure it works.

Also, Tommy Christopher at Mediaite makes some good points:

At this point, the Republicans’ chips are riding on something called the “Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013,” which will “authorize health insurance issuers to continue to offer for sale current individual health insurance coverage” as grandfathered ACA plans. This bill, and others like it, have received signs of support from some Democrats. Among its many problems, though, is the fact that the “Keep Your Health Plan” act is a “lie” to the exact extent that the President’s pledge was. Allowing insurance companies to continue selling pre-Obamacare plans does nothing to guarantee they will, and so, does nothing to guarantee people can “keep their plan.”

Go read the rest. His theory is that this will box Republicans in a corner. Maybe, but I doubt it. I'm not sure anyone has actually learned or internalized the lessons Republicans teach over and over: They will do whatever they can to screw people, they're shameless, and they're unembarrassed about it. But mostly, they're unafraid to lie to people to get their way.

Do you think they'd give a rip about the "if you like it you can keep it" line if Bush had said it? Not one whit. As long as Democrats let themselves get twisted in a bunch over every hissy fit Republicans toss, they're playing right to the hard-core conservative base. Screw that. Stand up and own it, Dems.

Update: Robert Reich says it better than I did, though I resent his comparison of banana slugs to queasy Dems. My daughter is a proud UCSC Banana Slug.

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