The Washington Ideas Forum, the annual Atlantic/Aspen Institute pot luck of wealthy-enough, powerful-enough people, kicked off Thursday morning with Nancy Pelosi describing the current crisis of Obamacare. James Bennet, the editor of the Atlantic, goaded Pelosi with a long description of everything going wrong, asking whether it proved that government couldn't do big things.
"You got caught in traffic?" joked Pelosi. "Is that what put you in this mood?"
It took a while, and some verbiage about how the healthcare.gov disaster ("more than a glitch"), but Pelosi eventually suggested that the administration could fix the dropped-plans issue. "I think what you'll see in the next 24, 36 hours, is something to the effect of how do we accommodate those people," she said. "I would rather it be an administrative fix," because such a change could be done without "accompanying agendas." And it was her "understanding" that this could come today.
Pelosi was staring down a legislative deadline—at some point on Friday, the House would probably vote on, and pass, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton's legislation to allow private insurance plans to be offered as they were before. A number of vulnerable Democrats don't want to vote against this. (Their Senate colleagues won't have to; Harry Reid can bottle up the bill.)
Before she finished, Pelosi suggested that "by the time we get out of here, we might have a presidential announcement." The event was scheduled to wrap up by 12:30 or 1 p.m. Obama's chief of staff was, at that time, scheduled to meet with Senate Democrats.