The Great Democratic Blame Punt of 2013

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 15 2013 8:29 AM

The Great Democratic Blame Punt of 2013

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To Mary Landrieu, it's the insurers' fault, not the government's.

Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images

So, yesterday, Emma Roller and I talked to a bunch of Democrats in Congress and determined the point of the administrative fix/residual push for some sort of legislative trick to allow insurers to keep offering current plans. The point is not restoring every plan—that's impossible! The point is to shift blame and public anger back from the government to the insurers, insofar as such a thing is possible in the age of Obamacare.

You hear strains of this in the comments of other Democrats; more importantly, you see it in the difference between Mary Landrieu's bill in the Senate and Fred Upton's bill in the House. Landrieu's legislation requires insurers to keep offering plans and tell consumers what else they could get if they jumped into the exchanges. Upton's bill merely allows insurers to keep offering the plans, for another year, to new customers. One bill sets up the insurance industry as the heavy, one sets up the government as a Leviathan trying to crush the beloved industry.

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Today, around 1 p.m., the House will vote on Upton's bill. It will pass easily; the only interesting wrinkle will be the Democratic votes, and how many come from members who otherwise vote against gutting the health care law. Late in the week, Democratic leaders made efforts to drive down the count, but they'll give free votes to endangered members.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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