OPINION: Ed Rogers in the Washington Post: The Insiders: The Upton bill is the biggest threat to Obamacare so far

November 6, 2013

As the president struggles to defend his now broken promise of “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away, no matter what,” Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and House Republicans are focused on solutions with the Keep Your Health Plan Act. Ed Rogers argues in The Washington Post the Keep Your Health Plan Act could certainly receive bipartisan, bicameral support. Rodgers writes, “The bill already has more than 100 co-sponsors… If the bill passes the House, it will be interesting to see if the Senate can avoid a vote.” 

November 5, 2013

The Insiders: The Upton bill is the biggest threat to Obamacare so far

By Ed Rogers

Legislation is brewing that could be another nail in the political coffin of Obamacare. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) have introduced legislation in their respective chambers that would “make Obamacare live up to the promises of the politicians who sold the plan to the American public.” Upton’s bill, the Keep Your Health Plan Act, is, in his words, “a voluntary escape hatch” for Americans who want to keep their health-insurance plans. In an op-ed in USA Today, Upton said, “I hope we can find common ground on keeping the promises the president made. Passing the Keep Your Health Plan Act with bipartisan support would do just that.” His office described the bill as allowing “health care plans available today on the individual market to continue to be offered so Americans have the option to keep what they have if they like it.”

I’m told this is not a cosmetic gesture or a headline-grabbing tactic. The bill already has more than 100 co-sponsors and Upton, who is smarter and more able than most, is committed to seeing this through. A vote on this bill would force Democrats to renew their support for Obamacare, which was unpopular when passed and has only gotten uglier for the president and his allies.

The law was approved in 2009 through a deceptive parliamentary slight of hand and has now grown up to become the “big lie” in American politics. To deal with the fallout, the administration is doubling down on the deceit and lying about the lies. As former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour says, “It offends me that a politician would lie to me when he knew that I knew he was lying, because it makes me think that he thinks I’m a fool.”  Well, that’s where President Obama is now with the American people.

I’m sure the Obama strategy was to stick to the lie, keep repeating it and hope everyone would move on. The Upton bill puts a roadblock in the way of that escape. Now it’s possible that Democratic members of Congress are going to have to reveal whether or not they are part of “the big lie.”

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.

If Upton’s bill winds up on the president’s desk for his signature or veto, it will be the ultimate example of what goes around comes around. That said, this is becoming untenable for the White House. Look for them to make a move to avoid the scenario I just described. They can’t sit still and let the Upton bill come to life. It could severely cripple the Obama presidency.

To read the column online, click here.

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