Fighting for His Presidency

With Democrats on the Hill restless, Obama and the White House are struggling to respond

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Kristoffer Tripplaar / Sipa Press / Getty Images

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Tribal Nations Conference held at the Department of Interior Building in Washington on Nov. 13, 2013

President Barack Obama is facing one of the toughest tests of his political life: a Democratic revolt that threatens to do irreparable harm to his signature legislative achievement. So far, it’s not clear how he intends to respond.

Just four weeks after scoring one of the cleanest political victories of his presidency over the government shutdown, Obama’s job-approval rating is at a record low, and a majority of Americans don’t believe him to be honest and trustworthy. Democratic political strategists are throwing their hands in the air in desperation. Worst of all for Obama, his own party in Congress senses a titanic shift in public opinion. Fearing for their jobs in next year’s midterm elections and seeing cover in former President Bill Clinton‘s criticism of the President, Hill Democrats are on the verge of open rebellion.

The White House’s response has amounted to little more than “Hang in there.”

In a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill Wednesday, House Democrats rained fire on David Simas, the White House point man on the health care law, and Mike Hash, the director of the Office of Health Reform at the Department of Health and Human Services. After the meeting, that anger spilled out into the assembled mass of reporters. Similar treatment is expected tomorrow when the Administration officials brief Senate Democrats.

(MORE: The 9%: Congress’s Approval Rating Hits the Single Digits)

Central to their concerns, is not the health care website — it’s the millions of cancellation notices their constituents are receiving that directly contradict the President’s now infamous promise that, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.” In both chambers, Democrats, especially those facing tough races next year, are considering backing fixes for the law that would allow Americans with plans that don’t meet the law’s requirements to keep those plans if they want.

One such proposal, put forward by Republican Congressman Fred Upton, has been panned by the White House as a thinly veiled attempt to undermine the entire Affordable Care Act, but at least a handful of Democrats are likely to join Republicans in supporting the bill. In the Senate, Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu has put forward a more narrowly tailored plan that has the support of at least five Democratic colleagues, including Senators Dianne Feinstein and Jeff Merkley.

“I do believe that Americans need to have adequate time to understand the law and make choices before they’re punished,” Representative Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat, told TIME. Breaking with the White House, Sinema also supports legislation that would expand the enrollment period and delay the fine until 120 days after the website is working.

The White House is not insensitive to Democrats’ concerns, and is especially wary of the impact the President’s false promise is having on Obama’s core brand. White House officials admit the politics are brutal. They’d lose an election held next week, and not just by a little. But they are cautioning Democrats to give them more time to get the Obamacare website up and running, and make sure the exchanges meet their enrollment targets.

(MORE: Only 106,000 Americans Signed Up for Obamacare in October)

In an interview with NBC last week, Obama said he’s asked his staff to present him with options to assist Americans who are receiving the cancellation notices. He also apologized to anyone who felt misled by his promise, but White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama’s apology was not an admission he had misled people.

“What the President said, the statement that has been often repeated, reflects what he absolutely believed and wanted the Affordable Care Act to deliver,” Carney said. But while the Administration has promised to get the HealthCare.gov website mostly functional for most Americans by the end of the month, the White House is not pledging to uphold Obama’s “you can keep it” pledge as an absolute.

In fact, Administration officials believe that the website, not the promise, is the root cause of their current political crisis, providing opponents an easy bludgeon, the media a convenient metaphor, and for those affected by the law, exacerbating the expected confusion surrounding switching insurance coverage. The law’s insurance-plan standards were designed to eliminate poor insurance coverage and replace it with subsidized, better coverage. People were always going to get cancellation letters, but the hope was they would quickly see the new benefit when they enrolled in the higher-quality health plans even if it costs more. But with the website down, it’s all downside.

— With reporting by Alex Rogers / Washington
PHOTOS: Obamacare: Promise vs. Reality

284 comments
ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

What this freaking idiot posing as President should do is to fight to save his country from disintegration. With its enemies getting bolder, its secrets are being stolen with impunity, its unsecured borders entries for those who wished us ill, he should resign if he has a semblance of shame left. But when you think of a clown like Biden as replacement we will have to take chances with the clown.

Onepatriot
Onepatriot

Everyone should be mad at the people who've been working on the AFA website.  All of them should have been sending emails to Kathleen Sebelius telling her why it wasn't going to be ready.  She should have been following up instead of accepting someone's lame assurances.  They've all let the President down no doubt and it shouldn't have happened.

That said, who ever believed that an insurance company wouldn't change their premiums or rules. I've had amendments added to my policies before and premiums never stay the same.  How could anyone believe an insurance company wouldn't change something about that policy?  Why wouldn't you want more choices anyway.  This whole thing was about people having more protection and giving everyone access to healthcare.

valentine.godoflove
valentine.godoflove

IN CAPS FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE ELDERLY.....DEFEND THE WEAK AGAINST TYRANTS.....KNIGHT TEMPLARS

OBAMA .....THE AMERICA HATER.....HAS SUCCEEDED  IN 2 WEEKS....TO DESTROY.....AMERICA's GREAT HEALTH SYSTEM.....NO MONEY?......GO TTO THE EMERGENCY ROOM.....AND GET FREE MEDICAL CARE FOR THE POOR.....JUST ALK TO THOSE MESICANS AND OTHER 3D WORLD PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD....

I HAD 3 HEART ATTACKS .....NO MONEY....WENT TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM....GOT THE BEST AMERICAN HEALTH CARE.....NOW OBAMA....WHO HATES AMERICA HAS SUCCEDED IN DESTROYING THIS BENEFIT.....AND HAS SCREWED THE AMERICAN CITIZENS AGAIN.....

IT IS TIME TO IMPEACH THIS MONKEY....AMERICAN HATER.....BEFORE HE DESTROYS THIS COUNTRY AND ALL ITS INSTITUTION FULLY.....AND WE BECOME LIKE MEXICO.....OR INDIA......99% RICH LIKE OBAMA, CLINTON, PELOSI, HARRY REED, DIANE FEINSTEIN, ETC.........AND THE REST OF US.....1% POOR.....ON WELFARE AND NEVER GOING TO MAKE IT !!!!

WAKE UP CITIZENS AND IMPEACH THIS MAGGOT.

SO,,,,THE DEMOCRAT SENATORS WANT TO REVOLT?????? HUH!!!!.....THEY HAVE NO BALLS!!!

VALENTINE, COMEDIAN.....LOL

barneydidit
barneydidit

So according to our Conservative friends on this thread, Obamacare is going to cause Democrats to "lose" future elections, which by default (until we get a viable 3rd party), leaves us with Republicans "winning" those elections. Is that it? Is that the goal for Republicans- to win elections? If Republicans win the next few elections, including the White House in 2016, will we get a health care reform bill that works? Will its implementation go without a hitch? Will someone with kidney disease be able to get treatment if they lose their job? Will it reduce medical costs? 

Yes you say? Absolutely we will? Great! I'm in! Someone from the right go ahead and just give me a loose framework of what you'd replace Obamacare with so I can back up my decision to vote Republican...anybody?  Oh well, at least we on the left can look forward to enjoying the familiar refrain of "cut taxes...blah blah blah...vouchers...blah blah blah...free market...blah blah blah". 

paulejb
paulejb

The liberal lament.

‘I was all for Obamacare until I found out I was paying for it.'

paulejb
paulejb

It’s Not a Trap

"And then around October 2014, all of those notices about losing your health plan because of Obamacare would start being mailed out again, just in time to help voters make an informed choice on November 4.

House Republican should pass the Upton bill and let Senate Democrats decide what to do with it. The range of bad options facing the party of Obamacare will further illustrate that, just because they like their government takeover of health care, they can’t necessarily keep their government takeover of health care."

ManorMess
ManorMess

Here is my experience along w/ some personal commentary:  I was one of the "lucky" recipients of the cancellation letter w/ a family of 5 & about to my lose insurance.My "crappy" plan as Obama calls it was working just fine for my family - I have a $2million life time cap per person therefore my plan does not comply w/ Obamacare.If I want the same coverage w/ no cap it costs me 5X more or I can pay the same premium w/ an annual deductible of $5,500 per person! Why even bother signing up - I will be wasting my money would rather pay the $95 fine.I need to pay $25K out of pocket before I get $1 of insurance benefit!Thanks Obama for lying to me and thanks for making my decision that my plan was “crappy” - I am clearly not capable of making my own decisions.My best option: opt for zero coverage, pay the fine, pay for Dr. visits out of pocket as you go and if someone gets ill sign up for a plan at that time as you cannot be turned down for a pre-existing condition.This was the advice I have been given directly from the “obamacare helpers”!! Nice huh !The irony in all of this is there will be less people insured in the US by the end of the year than before Obamacare - the government could not even run a lemonade stand.

M'LeeSt
M'LeeSt

“What the President said, the statement that has been often repeated, reflects what he absolutely believed and wanted the Affordable Care Act to deliver,” Carney said. But while the Administration has promised to get the HealthCare.gov website mostly functional for most Americans by the end of the month, the White House is not pledging to uphold Obama’s “you can keep it” pledge as an absolute.


In other words - the president of the United States is a LIAR. I am a liberal, I did NOT vote for this man because he lied throughout his first term, he lied during his campaign and he continues to lie to the American people. It is time for Americans to demand accountability from our elected officials. Remove those who lie, who mishandle the laws of this land and who misuse our taxes from office!

ThomasHall
ThomasHall

Democrats have being trying to get a national health insurance system since Woodrow Wilson but have been repeatedly blocked by the GOP who oppose the ACA because it cuts into the excessive profits and abuses of their wealthy healthcare providers, insurance companies, drug makers, etc. They water downed the ACA and avoided a single payer system that would have saved money by trying to placate the greedy GOP which not one eventually went along with it.

If the Democrats have not noticed the GOP, which were mostly responsible for the deregulated Wall St. bankster fraud that took down Wall St. and our economy taking away 9 million jobs on top of the five million manufacturing jobs shipped under Bush-Cheney overseas or to Mexico. They have done everything since o sabotage the weak economy and jobs market with an all-time record of 430+ blocked bills including job-creating ones, cost three million jobs, 2% GDP growth, blocked and continue to block appointments, and have made unprecedented use of the 60-vote super majority vote to produce the worst Congressional record in modern history.

Democrats should stand up to the GOP political terrorists who put partisan politics and their own narrow-minded, greedy, and bigoted agendas ahead of the country while hurting the poor, the needy, minorities, women, children, and the elderly. It is past time to use the "nuclear option" to change the abused 60-vote filibuster rules.

Democrats need to stand by the American people and the ACA which is already a vast improvement over the old abusive, corrupt system as left to the GOP people have died from neglect and lack of access to healthcare. Just because the GOP will drag down their dull-minded, bigoted, selfish, godless GOPeons supporters with them, no need to join the dead-end parade. We will all get what we deserve in teh end no amount of GOP spin or burdening wealth will help anybody.

cordesd
cordesd

"I do believe that Americans need to have adequate time to understand the law and make choices before they’re punished,” Representative Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat.."

Seriously? Are we still in America or in a latter day version of the old Soviet Union? How very generous of Rep. Sinema:  Americans whose private insurance has been cancelled at the whim of this dangerous, ideologue president, should be given time to understand their fate BEFORE the president and his Democrat thugs  punish them? Everyone who voted for this bunch of redistributive ratbags owes the nation an apology.


Read more: Obama Fighting for His Presidency As Democrats in Congress Revolt Over Obamacare | TIME.com http://swampland.time.com/2013/11/14/fighting-for-his-presidency/#ixzz2keRBUDYj

paulejb
paulejb

Nancy Pelosi: We have to pass this to find out what is in it.

Isn't that the definition of a stool sample, Nancy?

paulejb
paulejb

 Whoopee!!!

Barack Hussein Obama just announced that you can keep your crappy, substandard, junk health care plan for another year.

barneydidit
barneydidit

OK, gotta go, you're actually not the worst example of ideological blindness out there paule, 

jmac
jmac

Boehner:  Remember the strategy for stopping Obamacare we laid out to you back in July. It had two components: Aggressive, coordinated oversight, and targeted legislative strikes aimed at shattering the legislative coalition the president has used to force his law on the nation. That plan is being executed as we speak.

Yes, MSM, the GOP wants to do away with the conservative, Republican health care plan passed by the WHite House and their drum beat is taking effect.   Yes, they want to keep seats in the House and take over the Senate.  Yes, they might be able to do it.

Let's all hope they have success at it and ruin Obama's legacy - as they will in fact assure that the next president will be a Democrat because we all know what will happen if they take more seats in the House and take over the Senate.  

ThomasHall
ThomasHall

Time needs to remind its readers that Democrats have tried to have a national health insurance program going back to Woodrow Wilson, that two million Americans each year go bankrupt because of overwhelming medical and hospital bills which make up the majority of bankruptcies. No mention of the junk heath insurance policies that exist but people don't know about until they actually get sick. Recall that healthcare costs DOUBLED under Bush-Cheney alone along with crude oil prices and the National Debt.

The GOP oppose the ACA because it cuts into the excessive profits and abuses of the GOP's wealthy healthcare and insurance company benefactors who gouge customers at every turn and denied pre-existing conditions, denied coverage and claims, maxed-out coverage, and inflated premiums while often selling bad policies in our profit-driven not patient-driven healthcare systems.

It is time for democrats to stand up for the American people even those too dumb to understand their own policies and healthcare needs that cost states billions when people show up without insurance coverage at ERs and raise the premium rates.

We know that the GOP will continue to try to kill the ACA at every opportunity and their put profit over people. There are still months to go before people are required to sign up and even then the fines are modest ranging from $95 to $165 with no provision for the IRS to collect. We know that the GOP has historically NEVER represented the working class of America then they are going to have a spiritual reawakening now?

rproman824
rproman824

While the Republicans strike me as being devious, hateful, and most times despicable, the Democrats are spineless cowards, and like Republicans, care most about getting re-elected, the American people be damned. What  a sham of a political system this has become. The inimitable words of Emma Goldman, "If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal," rings loudly in my ears. Our political system is a disgrace and we all ought to be outraged, particularly at all he money involved that buys politicians of both stripes, and demeans what too many of us still believe is a democracy.

barneydidit
barneydidit

@Onepatriot Remember "you didn't build that"? That's how Republicans "govern" now. They focus on one phrase (heck, you still hear Republicans clamor on about his saying "spread the wealth around" 5 years ago), demonstrate how it's not accurate, then hammer on it for weeks on end until the electorate finally says "OK, you've made your point, now what do you have to offer that's better than what he's doing?"  That's followed by a week or two of silence from the right, at which point they find another phrase to latch on to. 

paulejb
paulejb

@valentine.godoflove 

You obviously need the mental health care mandated by ObamaCare, Val. It is an ill wind that blows no one some good. You should thank Obama for thinking of you. The rest of us, not so much.

JoeBlowe1
JoeBlowe1

@valentine.godoflove Thanks for helping to DRIVE UP THE COST OF HEALTHCARE FOR THE REST OF US CITIZENS!!!!  This is exactly the problem with the current system -- people like Valentine DON'T get insurance because they know no hospital will turn them away when they have a heath emergency (in this case, three heart-attacks).  So they go to the ER when they have a heart-attack, and run up massive bills...that get passed to the rest of us (as I doubt Mr. Valentine can pay fully for his treatments/medicine et cetera) in the form of higher premiums and fewer benefits.  Yet if Mr. Valentine had more preventative healthcare, perhaps he 1) wouldn't be having so many heart-attacks 2) see one 3) see one and two.  Last time I checked, it isn't a 'benefit' to be able to go to any ER at any hospital and receive FREE HEALTHCARE.  Rather, its a drag on the system that has lead us to the current problems with delivering effective healthcare for all.

DylanLaws
DylanLaws

@barneydidit It would probably be a system like Romneycare tailored to each states needs. Obamacare is based of of it, but the main difference is Romneycare actually worked!

obamalies100
obamalies100

@barneydidit Conservatives would "replace" Obamacare with the existing system of insurance.  Perhaps it escaped your notice, but when Obamacare became available to the general public, they didn't jump at the chance and sign up.  People who have lost their coverage haven't reacted by saying "Oh boy, we don't have coverage anymore, but now we have something better, Obamacare!". 

You backward people who have the gall to call yourselves "progressives" OWN Obamacare!  You bribed people in the Senate to pass this stupid law in the first place.  You packed the court with liberal justices who declared this travesty Constitutional.  You made it mandatory that people had to have Obamacare, whether they wanted it or not.  You're only now reversing course because you're afraid of losing votes next year.  Your poster boy has finally been exposed as the liar which conservatives have always known him to be.  So you and your Socialist ilk can eat crow, and I hope you choke on it!

paulejb
paulejb

@ManorMess 

The bunch currently in charge of the government could not be trusted to organize a one car funeral. Never have so many been screwed by so few to benefit even fewer.

paulejb
paulejb

@ThomasHall 

Tom Hall is stymied in his agitprop by the fact that Democrats are joining the "political terrorists" in droves. The same Democrats who shut down the government last month, to prevent any changes in ObamaCare, now demand that changes must be made.

Rim
Rim

@paulejb Yeah, Just what these idiots wanted.  Keep your substandard coverage and don't bitch about what it should be covering and doesn't because that's just what you wanted!!!!!

Openminded1
Openminded1

@rproman824 Cowards the dems are for sure. that is why I am an idependent and do not vote along any party lines.

shapiro.len
shapiro.len

@rproman824 

every political system is a sham in many ways. but America's system is particularly loathsome because it promises so much and delivers so little.

politicians are bottom feeders,at best,and when a genuine american hero emerges, as it does from time to time, he or she is either murdered,demonized,discredited and generally dispised. don't believe in democracy or anything else and you will have much less to agonize about.

tom.litton
tom.litton

@rproman824 Here is what i don't understand.

You see the commercials.  You know they cost a lot of money.  You know where and how they get that money.  So why vote for them?

I don't blame the politicians.  I blame the system, and the voters who allow it.

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

@rproman824 

Take heart!  With a 9% approval rating we all are outraged.  The trick is to remember this in November 2014.

JoeBlowe1
JoeBlowe1

@obamalies100 @barneydidit Go figure, the Conservatives (obmaalies100) has ZERO ideas on how to reform healthcare in the event the Republicans win the White House in 2016.  Nope -- nothing.  Not even the usual 'tort reform, buy insurance across state lines, vouchers, cut taxes on the rich, et cetera'.  Just the usual rants about how Obama is the worst president ever.  And they call Liberals and Progressives 'backwards'!!?!!  Oh wait, now that I re-read it I see that the Conservative Solution is to return to the status quo.  That would be (for those who suddenly FORGOT the status quo) premiums going up every year faster than inflation, fewer benefits, and insurers are able to cancel your policy for no good reason (everything from pre-existing conditions, to typos on your applications).  Thanks Conservatives for your constructive ideas...NOT!

obamalies100
obamalies100

@Rim @paulejb Hey rim, can you please tell me why the citizenry should be obligated to purchase birth control so that the promiscuous can copulate like rabbits without fear of repercussion?

paulejb
paulejb

@Rim @paulejb 

At least, gay men will not be paying for maternity care for one more year, Rim.

barneydidit
barneydidit

@JoeBlowe1 @obamalies100 @barneydidit Yeah, have to love the conservative argument- 

Stage 1.- "our healthcare system is the best in the world!"

Stage 2.- "well...yeah...premiums have gone up faster than inflation every year for the past couple of decades, and every year more people are losing coverage, and every year more people have to pay more of their share of their coverage....that's why we ALL agree that we have to do something...but...

Stage 3.  "We don't want to do anything Marxist or socialist, or fascist....because our healthcare system is the best in the world!"

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

@JoeBlowe1 @paulejb @charlieromeobravo @ManorMess 

Joe, he shouldn't have had to look for insurance in the first place.  ManorMess was one of the responsible citizens who did his homework and found a plan he could afford that covered his family.  Now, he's been, or will be, dropped in favor of a plan that will be forced on him for much much more.  The coverage is less than he currently has.  He has a very valid point. 

JoeBlowe1
JoeBlowe1

@paulejb @charlieromeobravo @ManorMess Just another Conservative liar with their 'story of woe' about how the new healthcare laws have enslaved them.  Maybe ManorMess should spend their energies LOOKING FOR NEW INSURANCE?  Oh that's right, you rather have a pity party than actually do a little work looking up new insurance.  Because we all know the insurance companies would have let you keep your plan forever...NOT.

JoeBlowe1
JoeBlowe1

@obamalies100 @Rim @paulejb Why are Conservatives so concerned about what people do in the privacy of their bedrooms?!  Why do Conservatives think people only have sex to procreate?

I guess Obamalies100 isn't a woman, or else, they'd be upset their healthcare insurance HAS to cover male prostate exams and erectile dysfunction drugs.  Oh the soft tyranny!

Openminded1
Openminded1

@barneydidit @paulejb That is where the GOP was wrong placing the religious mormon ass on the ballot. they needed some one else, he was the wrong choice. that is why the liar racist  along with media help and dumb libs got in the Oval office.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@barneydidit @paulejb @tom.litton @rproman824 It is amazing, are you democrats ever wrong? You libs are so good at twisting words and making up stories to suit your bleeding heart party.

barneydidit
barneydidit

@paulejb It wasn't voter fraud? Or Romney's inability to energize the base?

paulejb
paulejb

@barneydidit @paulejb @tom.litton @rproman824 

Barry 0 won by three points by suppressing conservative votes with the IRS.