Congressional Democrats are quickly losing patience with the White House as the deeply flawed Obamacare rollout drags on.
The broken HealthCare.gov website and President Obama’s broken promise that “if you like the plan you have, you can keep it” have sent Democrats searching for ways to distance themselves from the Affordable Care Act.
Senate Democrats are flocking to introduce bills they say would preserve Obama’s pledge, and White House officials met with House Democrats on Wednesday in an effort to push them away from supporting a similar Republican measure.
The Democrats’ response: If you don’t want us to vote for the GOP bill, give us something else to support — before Friday’s vote.
That’s a tall order for the administration. Obama said last week that he had directed his team to look for a way to address the wave of cancellation notices hitting consumers in the individual insurance market. But no solution has been announced, and policy experts say there aren’t any easy options.
The House bill, sponsored by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., would allow consumers to keep certain health care plans longer than they can under the Affordable Care Act.
A policy analysis from the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said the bill would undermine the health care law, not help it. But in the midst of such bad publicity, that concern hasn’t resonated with rank-and-file Democrats who feel boxed in by Obama.
“We weren’t making grandiose claims. He doesn’t have to run again, I don’t know why he needs to make such grandiose claims. Some of this stuff is just gratuitous rhetoric,” Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., told BuzzFeed on Wednesday, referring to Obama’s promises that Americans could keep their health plans.
In the Senate, Democrats are rushing to put their stamp on the frustration over canceled insurance policies. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., has introduced a more aggressive version of Upton’s bill — hers would require insurance companies to keep offering plans, not simply allow them to.
She picked up support from the Left when Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., agreed to cosponsor the bill.
Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., introduced his own “keep your health care plan” bill on Wednesday — another sign of Democrats’ anxiety.
Democrats’ openness to the Upton bill in the House and similar measures in the Senate suggest they might be willing to help pass a bill that would substantively delay some of Obamacare’s benefit mandates. If they’re angry enough to actually push for a vote in the Senate, insurance companies and the White House would face a serious challenge trying to beat back changes they believe would undermine the complex systems of the ACA.
Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, who is facing a tough reelection fight next year, said he wasn’t sure whether leadership would actually bring a proposal to the floor.
“I think there’s a lot of people who want to bring bills to the floor, so I’m not sure who will bring it,” he said. “But I think there’s a lot of interest to try to fix it.”
Democrats will continue to huddle on Thursday. House Democrats will hold a caucus meeting in the afternoon.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he will also hold a full caucus meeting on Thursday afternoon with a number of White House officials to brief senators on the status of the Affordable Care Act.
“There are many questions about health care, and I understand that,” Reid said Wednesday.
Obama called Reid late Tuesday night and had “quite a long conversation,” the majority leader added. “I feel very comfortable after having my conversation last night that it will be fixed.”
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”