Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., is the latest Democrat to sign onto a bill from a red-state colleague that lets people keep their current health insurance policies under Obamacare.
Democrats up for reelection in 2014 are in a tricky spot: They have to reconcile their support for Obamacare while having to do more than simply acknowledge that the rollout has been a disaster.
A bill from Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., addresses the problems that have cropped up during the Affordable Care Act rollout and has been gaining political traction in recent days. The bill aims to address individuals who have seen their health insurance plans canceled, and yet are having problems accessing the exchanges to buy new insurance.
Merkley, who is up for reelection in 2014, has been targeted back home over the rollout of the insurance exchanges. The Republican National Committee launched robocalls against Merkley last week, tying him to President Obama’s claim that Americans could keep their plans.
“I am very frustrated with the rollout of the exchanges,” Merkley said after last week’s White House meeting with Senate Democrats up for reelection in 2014. “The dysfunction and delays are unacceptable. After meeting with the president today, I remain deeply convinced that this is a ‘show-me’ moment.”
Other Democrats who have signed onto Landrieu’s bill are more predictable and come from red states where they face tough reelection fights, including Sens. Mark Pryor from Arkansas and Kay Hagan from North Carolina.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., also signed onto the effort, although she isn’t up for reelection until 2018. Both Oregon and California have state-run exchanges, but the rollout hasn’t been smooth there, either; a number of states have problems allowing people to sign up.
Obama has said he is looking for a “fix” when it comes to canceled plans, but health care policy experts say it’s unlikely the administration can do much on its own to fundamentally address the problem.
On Tuesday, former President Clinton also said that Obama should find a way to allow Americans to keep their old plans under Obamacare. “Even if it takes a change to the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they’ve got,” he told Ozy.com.
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House Speaker Paul Ryan today is trying to convince his large but divided conference that they need to pass a budget under regular order. “Conservatives are revolting against higher top-line spending levels negotiated last fall by President Obama and Ryan’s predecessor, then-Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). GOP centrists are digging in on the other side, pledging to kill any budget that deviates from the two-year, bipartisan budget deal.” Ryan’s three options are to lower the budget numbers to appease the Freedom Caucus, “deem” a budget and move on to the appropriations process, or “preserve Obama-Boehner levels, but seek savings elsewhere.”
“A bill headed for President Barack Obama this week includes a provision that would ban U.S. imports of fish caught by slaves in Southeast Asia, gold mined by children in Africa and garments sewn by abused women in Bangladesh, closing a loophole in an 85-year-old tariff law.” The Senate approved the bill, which would also ban Internet taxes and overhaul trade laws, by a vote of 75-20. It now goes to President Obama.
Bernie Sanders has closed to within seven points of Hillary Clinton in a new Morning Consult survey. Clinton leads 46%-39%. Consistent with the New Hampshire voting results, Clinton does best with retirees, while Sanders leads by 20 percentage points among those under 30. On the Republican side, Donald Trump is far ahead with 44% support. Trailing by a huge margin are Ted Cruz (17%), Ben Carson (10%) and Marco Rubio (10%).
President Obama became a surprise topic of contention toward the end of the Democratic debate, as Hillary Clinton reminded viewers that Sanders had challenged the progressive bona fides of President Obama in 2011 and suggested that someone might challenge him from the left. “The kind of criticism that we’ve heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans, I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama,” she said. “Madame Secretary, that is a low blow,” replied Sanders, before getting in another dig during his closing statement: “One of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate.”
It’s all about the 1% and Wall Street versus everyone else for Bernie Sanders—even when he’s talking about race relations. Like Hillary Clinton, he needs to appeal to African-American and Hispanic voters in coming states, but he insists on doing so through his lens of class warfare. When he got a question from the moderators about the plight of black America, he noted that during the great recession, African Americans “lost half their wealth,” and “instead of tax breaks for billionaires,” a Sanders presidency would deliver jobs for kids. On the very next question, he downplayed the role of race in inequality, saying, “It’s a racial issue, but it’s also a general economic issue.”