Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 14, 2016

House Democrats’ Frustration With Obamacare Rollout Reaches Fever Pitch

House Democrats emerged from a closed-door caucus meeting Wednesday morning worn thin from arguing with White House officials over the bumpy rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

One source in the room described Democratic lawmakers from across the political spectrum — from moderates in vulnerable districts to progressives in safe seats — as frustrated with the administration in equal measure.

They pushed David Simas, the White House deputy senior adviser for communications and strategy, to account for the glitches on the enrollment website and for President Barack Obama’s unfulfilled promise to Americans that if they liked their health insurance policies, they could keep them, regardless of what changes would be ushered in by the new health care law.

“I think in diplomatic terms we had a frank discussion,” Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., said. “I think there was a lot of frustration and in some cases anger vented towards the White House for their continued ham-fisted approach. It’s not just their credibility that’s on the line, but it’s our credibility.”

“Why can’t we call people who know how to do these things, who do it for corporate America, and say, ‘We have a website, fix it,'” said Rep. José E. Serrano, D-N.Y. “Maybe I’m being simplistic, but can’t we call Bill Gates up and say, ‘Take care of this?’ Or go to a college dorm and say, ‘You guys, you invented Yahoo, can you take care of this?’

“Don’t come here telling us it will be fixed by Nov. 30,” he continued, speaking of the White House.

The caucus meeting with Simas occurred two days before the House is scheduled to vote on legislation, sponsored by Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., that would grandfather in health insurance policies that have been abruptly canceled for millions of Americans.

House Democratic leaders are united in their opposition to the legislation, calling it the 46th Republican vote to undermine the health care law.

The White House is also against the bill, a position Simas reiterated at the caucus meeting, according to Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio.

“Mr. Upton’s bill, in their opinion, would bifurcate the insurance market and allow for substandard plans to be offered, and so they were talking about the ultimate impact of voting for it, that in fact it would allow plans that had very high deductibles, very low coverage … to not be covered,” Kaptur told reporters outside the room.

But a sizable portion of Democrats could defect and vote “yes,” worried for the political implications of a “no” vote and for the optics of voting against a bill that, on its surface, simply makes good a pledge they made to their constituents.

At a post-caucus news conference, House Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., told reporters that leaders would be spending the week educating caucus members about how the Upton bill is just another Republican tool to chip away at the health care law’s foundation.

“My colleagues … recognize the sacrifices that were made by our caucus in the passage of this law,” Crowley added. “Democrats in our caucus were responsible for the passage of this bill … and we took a great deal of heat for it, but understanding, in the end, that what were were doing was in the best interest of the country.

“They are committed to seeing this bill through,” Crowley said.

There are a few ways caucus members on the fence could be won over to vote “no” on the Upton bill in addition to lobbying by leaders, who have not yet decided whether to launch a formal whip operation against the legislation.

One is for the White House to move forward with an “administrative fix” to ease the burden on individuals who have had their policies canceled. An announcement by Friday, before the vote on the Upton bill, would be helpful for Democrats, but as of Wednesday morning there was no decision as to what the fix might look like and when it would be unveiled.

Kaptur said that Democrats were also discussing with Simas what other vehicles could be used to let caucus members express their frustration without having to vote “yes” on Upton’s legislation. One likely option is a Democratic motion to recommit that would fail on the House floor but would at least put members on the record as supporting some sort of remedy for Americans who have lost their preferred insurance plans.

Costa, who said he was “seriously looking at” voting for the Upton bill, was unmoved by the option of a motion to recommit.

“I think an MTR means little,” he said. “The fact is, members want to be able to come back to their constituents and say, ‘I’ve tried to do everything I possibly can to allow you to keep your existing policies if that’s what you choose.’ I think it was said repeatedly in the caucus just a moment ago, it’s a matter of keeping one’s word.”


    Obama’s chickens coming home to roost.

    • kenpuck

      More like the rats deserting a sinking ship. Better analogy, I think.

  • Layla

    Frustration? Why??? Because you’re going to lose your seats over this and you deserve to lose your seats over this? This President needs to be impeached and that is the only thing that is going to satisfy the American people. He is incompetent. If he presided over fraud the size of this in the private sector, he would be sent to prison.

  • Layla

    How many of you read this disaster before you voted to pass it? Apparently not many…..another reason why many WILL BE VOTED OUT.

  • obladioblada

    We don’t want the Democrat’s one-size-fits all plan imposed on all of us. We’re unique adults and want the freedom to make the best decisions for ourselves and our families. No more cookie-cutter health care!

  • SuzanneO

    single payer Medicare for all … skip Obamacare. Vermont knows, we all know that’s the way out.

    • underwearbomber

      Medicare is insolvent.
      It will not be there in its present form for the next generation, no matter who is elected.
      Arithmetic is non-partisan.

      • drrn

        Don’t bother a Democrat with math, if it sounds good they want it. Don’t tell them about any consequences to their actions.

    • fbowman

      Too bad that this Obamacare fiasco set your wet dream back for more than 20 years. That’s what you get for lying.

    • Scott Walker

      Wait a minute. I paid into medicare my entire working life. Now that I’m eligible, it still isn’t free. I pay a monthly premium to Uncle Sugar plus a monthly premium to a private insurer for whistles and bells.

      • Steelyal

        Suzanne is getting those checks !

    • Steelyal

      You can get that in China Comrade!

    • Dan

      Vermont seems to be lacking that wonderful diversity that other states are saddled with

  • usagoingbroke

    It’s laughable to think about how this is playing out. The government is hurting middle class Americans in order to help subsidize poor people so they can buy health insurance. The subsidy is a stipon of money that will go to health insurance companies. Health Insurance, which, when used, will run up a medical bills which then won’t be covered until very high deductibles and out of pocket expenses are paid up front. Which means, the poor people that now can afford sudsidized healthcare insurance, won’t be able to afford the medical bills that will soon follow.
    So, just what have we done for the poor again? Will they pay all those medical bills? Or will those just get lumped right back into the same medical bills that were spread out on the working middle class, who will then see even HIGHER medical insurance premiums next year?
    Think about this people, the Democrats compassionate idea of insuring everyone (obamacare), is only that, a compassionate “idea”. It’s completely unworkable and doomed to collapse our healthcare system. What its not, is a solution to controlling healthcare cost so we can all afford healthcare. A MASSIVE TAX on the working middle class; straight up!
    I think it’s time to start over and come up with a bipartisan approach. Enough of this one party rule approach!

  • Mygoodness

    They may be frustrated but they will do nothing significant to change it. When push comes to shove they are democrats first, representatives of the people seventh or eighth

  • Steelyal

    We Are Watching the destruction of Progressivism and Liberalism as we speak. God Bless America as we are saved.

    • Dan

      I hope every dem votes against this. I want them to ride the Titanic down

      • Steelyal

        Dan Liberalism is crashing and burning as we speak. Liberals said my may or the highway ! Well Libs you are on the road to obscurity.

  • Steelyal

    Pelosi,Boxer, Feinstein, Landrau, Reid,Obama, Schumer , Casey and any Obama PimP should be Impeached, Voted Out, Resign or recalled.

    • Layla

      How about perp walked out of the Capitol in handcuffs and then sent to prison w/Madoff?

      • Steelyal

        Many more and too many criminals to list.

  • Mygoodness

    So Obama once again asks other to fall on their swords for him. But then he is the Dear Leader

  • Ed Taylor

    Democrats who voted for this lie should be scouring the want ads back in their home districts. They will soon be unemployed.

    More & more people believe Obama & Democrats outright lied. Not just about
    keeping doctors & insurance, but about saving an average of $2500 per

    This year voters with individual plans are in shock over the new high cost of the
    premiums & deductibles of their ‘new and improved’ plans. Their
    resentment will hit at the polls in the midterms.

    By 2016, the employer mandate will be implemented. Many employers are going to realize it is far cheaper to dump employees into the exchanges, and pay the per employee penalty. So those previously unaffected employees will suddenly
    be hit with premium & deductible sticker shock.

    Combine the above shoe drops with the fact that Americans were promised that this would not lead to long wait times. Realistically, we know that is also
    untrue. We cannot suddenly dump 30 million people into an overburdened
    system without adding a corresponding number of health care workers.

    Americans still vote their pocketbook. Take away a large chunk of their disposable income, and watch voters take revenge at the polls against the party who took so much money from their own pocketbook.
    Bye-bye Democrats!

    • Layla

      Thanks to Obama and the Socialist Democrats, Americans will now pay more than any country in the world.


  • vendome

    Obama, Reid and Pelosi will throw these Democratic Congressmen and Senators out on their rears – just like they did in 2010.

    Obama and his administration uses people up and then throws them away like used toilet paper after he has reached his corrupt ambitions.

    Obama is the consumate liar – it is his essence in totality.

  • GameTime

    Oh sure, yes, call Bill Gates or some college kids to “fix this.” Now they are worried about their credibility? Weren’t they worried about this Frankensurance back in 2009 when they created it? Obama doesn’t care. He’s out milking the party faithful again, raising money to transfer to his newly created “foundation” so he and the First Bicep can live in the luxury to which they have become accustomed when they have to leave the White House.

    We’re sick of Obama. Is here coverage for that?

  • B Martin

    If you like your president, you can keep him. if you want to keep your Senate, you can have them. The argument regarding this issue was last month. The President and the Senate won the shutdown battle. You got what you wanted. It is ALL yours!!! Enjoy your victory!

    ObamaCare, Hoax and Chains you can bereave in!!!

    • CL Laker

      Love it……”Hoax and Chains” you can believe in!!! very good.

  • The Demon Slick

    We pay them a lot, fly them around, they live like Kings on our dime, they only work 1/3 of the year. And all we ask of them, thier only job, is to read the bills and vote on them. And they can’t even do that. FAILURES.

    • The Demon Slick

      “The rich can afford it. The poor will get subsidies. The Hammer will fall on the middle class.” – me, 2009, arguing with a liberal.

    • Layla

      TRAITORS now.

  • Sam

    the only reason Obamacare passed was because the American people and lazy legislators were lied to, and lied to, and lied to. The lying continues. Someone should be in jail for this fraud.

  • DisgustedwithElitism

    The left claims “it was a GOP bill that Romney used in MA.” We all know that zero members of the GOP in Congress voted for it; we also know that the Democrats did not read the bill before they “passed” it (to quote Pelosi, “…we have to pass it to see what is in it”). Now the left asks “What is the GOP going to do to fix it?”

    It can’t be just me; you have to be some weird form of mental contortionist to wrap your mind around 1) it is your bill, not ours; 2) we did not read it but we passed it; 3) in your blind hatred of BHO and obstruction of his agenda you refused to vote for it; and 4) now that it is demonstrably a terrible failure, what are you going to do to fix it? I would have thought that even the “unicorns, rainbows, and fairy dust” air heads would not be able to do such mental gymnastics – it hurts my head just thinking about it.

    As painful as it is for far too many, the GOP should not touch this steaming, stinking, pile of manure with anyone’s barge pole. The only solution is repeal; when BHO and the Democrats pass a bill repealing it in the Senate, the House can take it up.

  • joules48084

    I believe the following quotes apply to Obama and how this whole Obamacare thing is coming down around his ears:

    Take from a man his reputation for probity, and the more shrewd and clever he is, the more hated and mistrusted he becomes. – Marcus Tullius Cicero

    Never risk your reputation on a single shot; for if you miss, the loss is irreparable. – Baltasar Gracian

    A single lie destroys a whole reputation of integrity. – Baltasar Gracian

    It is a sign that your reputation is small and sinking if your own tongue must praise you. – Harvey Mackay

    • chaos344

      Excellent quotes, and so apropos of Obama. In regards to his veracity, the TRUTH is simply a LIE that hasn’t been uncovered YET!

  • DocinPA

    I’m a serious student of history and I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a bigger looming political disaster than this. Watergate and Teapot Dome are amateur hour compared to this catastrophe. If this keeps on the same trajectory, we could be in for the greatest wipeout of a political party in American history. And by “this”, I mean the impending employer mandate, which will do to the 93 million with a job next October what ObamaCare is doing to the individual market right now. Doh!

    • chaos344

      And just in time for the 2014 elections. I find it hard to believe that even Prog-Lib Democrats could be that suicidal, but I’ve learned to never under estimate the lengths they will go to in order to achieve their ideological objectives!

  • creeper

    They may be able to fix the website.

    There is no fix for O’care.

  • Silverfiddle

    This quote from the socialist Serrano sums up the cluelessness of the statists:

    “Why can’t we call people who know how to do these things, who do it for
    corporate America, and say, ‘We have a website, fix it,’” said Rep.
    José E. Serrano, D-N.Y. “Maybe I’m being simplistic, but can’t we call
    Bill Gates up and say, ‘Take care of this?’ Or go to a college dorm and
    say, ‘You guys, you invented Yahoo, can you take care of this?’

    Indeed, you red commie! Take care of the infrastructure and the other enumerated powers in the constitution and leave the rest to the people.

    Every time the gangsters in the District of Criminals touch something, they screw up ordinary people’s lives.

  • chaos344

    I have never seen so much hoopla over the misuse of one word, since Bill Clinton said, “It depends on what the meaning of is is!”

    People are all up set because the king in Barackingham Palace said, “If YOU like your health plan, YOU can keep your health plan, period!”

    What he really meant, was, ” If I like your health plan, you can can keep your health plan, period!”

    What’s the BFD?

    • Layla

      Ask the millions who now can’t afford healthcare while being forced to pay for yours.

      • chaos344


        I paid for my health care with six years of my life. Half of that time was spent hundreds of feet under the ocean, protecting YOUR butt. I earned my insurance!

  • bscook111

    “Why can’t we call people who know how to do these things, who do it for corporate America, and say, ‘We have a website, fix it,’” said Rep. José E. Serrano, D-N.Y. “Maybe I’m being simplistic, but can’t we call Bill Gates up and say, ‘Take care of this?’ Or go to a college dorm and say, ‘You guys, you invented Yahoo, can you take care of this?’

    Clearly you don’t understand how application development really works. The entire industry of code work is very 19th century in terms of management and effectiveness. MS has spent decades developing Works and it is still junk compared to what it should be. And Works is small potatoes compared to what is required for the ACA to work. The incompetence of the Obama administration has crossed the line and become malfeasance.

  • f_this_state

    Democrats desperately trying to keep their plantation from crumbling.

    “At a post-caucus news conference, House Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., told reporters that leaders would be spending the week educating caucus members about how the Upton bill is just another Republican tool to chip away at the health care law’s foundation.”

    So basically they’re going to be whipping them like slaves, and throwing all sorts of propaganda and threats at them to stop them from escaping the plantation. It must suck to be a slave on the democratic plantation.

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