Consider: If Upton's is the only measure that comes for a vote in the House, what is a Democrat running in a close race in 2014 going to do? Party leaders, according to Roll Call, have been meeting to figure out if there's a legislative response they can counter with. In the meantime, though, they're in a bind. "[F]earful of the political embarrassment of defections from the rank-and-file," Roll Call writes, "[leaders] wouldn't comment on whether they were launching a formal whip operation to urge 'no' votes on the Upton bill." In other words: Democratic leaders may let members vote with Upton — and against the president — for their own political good.
The Washington Post notes that the issue is just as difficult for Democrats on the Senate side. Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, facing a tough re-election next year, didn't appear at an event with the president earlier this week — the sort of thing that is rarely unintentional — and has also introduced one of the legislative fixes listed above.
Obama hasn't done his party many favors on the cancellations issue. On Thursday, he apologized to Democrats who echoed his "if you like your plan, you can keep it line," which, the Post suggests, is already making things uncomfortable.
Rep. Nick J. Rahall II (W.Va.), a 19-term veteran targeted in 2014 by Republicans, said ads are running against him in his district based on the president’s promise to allow Americans to keep their health-care plans.
“I’m concerned about my integrity with voters that have returned me [for] 38 years. They know me enough to know I wouldn’t purposely mislead them and that I’m an honest, straight shooter,” he said. “They have that confidence in me, and I want to continue for them to have that confidence in me. I just need to find the answers myself.”
Both Obama's and Obamacare's popularity are sinking.
Rahall's point is reflected in the polling. As we noted on Thursday, the president's popularity and the popularity of Obamacare are at or near record lows. Opposition to Obamacare increased by 12 points over the course of a few weeks, thanks largely to negative news reports about the roll-out. Of more concern, as Obama's conservative critics eagerly point out, is that voters are losing confidence in the president's trustworthiness.
When Obamacare first passed, the president and his Democratic allies could at least fall back on the idea that the president's approval was high. Now, that's less and less the case. The public is less likely to want to support Obamacare, and less likely to care if Obama himself supports it.
His Republican opponents are gaining confidence.
On October 1, the government shut down as the Republicans unveiled a last-ditch attempt to undermine Obamacare by voting to defund the bill (for the 40th-plus time). But this month, after the stumbling roll-out of Healthcare.gov and the cancellations blowback, some Republicans think they could eventually have luck with a delay or repeal vote, as Buzzfeed's Kate Nocera writes.
Rep. Trey Radel laughed at a reporter when asked if he thought some in the conference might attempt to defund the law as part of the budget negotiations. When he stopped chuckling, Radel said that the president pushing to delay parts of the law on his own gives some validation to the Republican position.
For now, as we pointed out on Thursday, the Republicans hoping to stay out of the spotlight and let Obama and the Democrats stumble around in the public eye. But a month ago, a vote for delay or repeal of Obamacare seemed like an impossibility given a Democratic Senate and president. Now such a thing seems increasingly possible every day — and continued delays could, in theory, push implementation out long enough for there to be another occupant of the White House. This is deeply, deeply optimistic — but with Democrats appearing to waver, it's not a surprise that Republicans are feeling empowered.