Sen. Dean Heller might have a much easier time finding a Democratic co-sponsor for his repeal of the Obamacare Cadillac tax if he were a Democrat.
In the lower chamber, 129 Democrats (and 14 Republicans) have co-sponsored Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney’s bill repealing the tax. Even Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley have expressed interest in dumping the tax, and Hillary Clinton said she is “examining” the policy. But Democrats in the Senate have been unwilling to put their names alongside Heller’s on the legislation, not yet ready to join hands with Republicans when it comes to the Affordable Care Act.
“I’m hoping that the dam will break,” Heller, a Nevada Republican, said in an interview last week. “I think if we get one Democrat, we’ll get a lot of Democrats. But right now, we need the first one to step up.”
Senate Democrats’ hesitation to partner with Republicans on a repeal of part of the Affordable Care Act shows that when it comes to this law, bipartisanship is not yet an option and probably won’t be as long as the GOP continues to wage war against it. Democrats don’t want to put their name on a bill that could be used as a messaging device against Obamacare later, according to Senate Democratic aides. They’re afraid the Cadillac tax will be pointed to as one more example of why the law needs to be gutted, and their fears are only reinforced by the GOP’s persistent claims that Obamacare will be repealed if a Republican is in the White House in 2017 and by the party's continued legal challenges to the law.