There is this weird meme going around conservatives that they can pressure vulnerable Senate Democrats into supporting bills that severely hamper Obamacare. I have no idea why they think this possibly has a chance of happening.
In a piece at the Washington Post yesterday, Ed Rogers pontificated about a House bill that would allow all health insurers to continue selling any plan that they offered in 2013 on the exchange in 2014, no matter if those plans lived up to the new requirements imposed in Obamacare. The law would undermine the entire health care law, yet Rogers thinks it has a legitimate chance of passing the Senate:
If the bill passes the House, it will be interesting to see if the Senate can avoid a vote. We can assume that all 45 Republicans senators will vote for the bill; add in the 14 Democratic senators who are up for re-election in 2014 and the number of Democratic senators who can’t stomach the lies, and you might get to 60 votes.
Rogers is entirely misreading the Senate here. First of all, many of those 14 Democratic senators are not vulnerable and will stick by the law, but even the ones that are vulnerable are not going to run away from it at this point. Their comments right now are entirely about messaging. They are already tied to Obamacare, whether they like it or not. However, their calls for grandfathering in more plans are in response to Obama’s lie. They know that it doesn’t have a chance of passing. They are scoring political points by voicing those opinions without any risk to the actual law. It’s a win-win. Under no circumstance would Harry Reid bring up such a bill for a vote. Republicans can rightly earn their own political points by pointing the spotlight at Obama’s lie and milking it for all it’s worth. But don’t confuse these political moves for ones that have an actual chance of becoming law.
Another conservative, Mickey Kaus, suggested on Twitter that Senate Democrats could panic and pass an individual mandate delay. Once again, this is working under the same misguided belief that Democrats are willing to undermine the law. They aren’t. Unless there are major issues with HealthCare.gov a month from now, the individual mandate will not be delayed. That decision has nothing to do with Senate Democrats or House Republicans. The White House will decide based on the functionality of the site.
No matter how many times I and others repeat it, many conservatives seem unable to understand the fact that Democrats are sticking by the law. The politics of it don’t matter anymore. Period. Right now, the greatest threat to Obamacare is HealthCare.gov. If the website doesn’t work, the law is in trouble. If the White House fixes it, then the success or failure of Obamacare depends on the policy outcomes of it. Is insurance cheaper? Do Americans like their new plans? Is consumer choice limited? All of these policy questions and more will be answered in the upcoming months (assuming HealthCare.gov works).
At this point, Republicans can do nothing to stop it. That ship has sailed. Obamacare isn’t going anywhere, no matter what cleverly titled bills House Republicans propose. Conservatives would do well to learn that before they embark on another foolish conquest like the government shutdown that has no chance of success.