President Obama’s approval rating stands at 37 percent, marking a new low for his presidency. But he’s still maintaining a narrow lead over the ACA’s approval rating, a pathetically dismal 31 percent. Although Republicans have been outspokenly against Obamacare since the beginning, Democrats are starting to join the chorus of opposition with 58 percent disapproving of the healthcare law.
This puts Harry Reid in a peculiar position. He’s juggling White House expectations that he defend the law, while still trying to protect vulnerable Senate Democrats in conservative states. Incumbent Democrats in Louisiana, Alaska, and North Carolina, among others facing re-election in 2014, are trying to distance themselves from Obamacare. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) is trying to tackle the issue of cancelled health insurance policies, 80,000 of which are from her home state. But Reid has all but ignored her plan and doesn’t seem to have any intentions of bringing it to the floor for a vote. He needs to maintain loyalty to the president, who has promised an “administrative fix” to combat the 5 million cancelled policies nationwide, although he has yet to say what that is.
Despite Obama’s promise, thirty-nine skeptical House Democrats still voted for the Upton bill (H.R. 3350) that would allow individuals to keep their current health insurance, even if it doesn’t meet the new Obamacare requirements. If the Upton bill becomes law, it would allow young, healthy and middle-class individuals another option besides the exchanges. The exchanges would then be burdened with too many poor and sick individuals, increasing the risk of collapse. That is ultimately why Reid won’t allow the Landrieu and Upton bills to progress. He’s playing gatekeeper to safeguard Obama from having to veto such popular legislation.
Although the president’s approval continues to plunge right alongside Obamacare, he doesn’t have to face re-election. Nor does he care much about his vulnerable Senate allies. The Affordable Care Act is Obama’s signature piece of legislation, and he isn’t going to jeopardize it at the cost of a few Senators.