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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Democratic Senator: We've Never Discussed Plans to Fix Obamacare at Party Meetings -- By John McCormack, The Weekly Standard

ObamacareAs the implementation of Obamacare sent Democratic poll numbers plummeting in recent months, party leaders responded with an Obamacare message they hope will spare their candidates from the wrath of voters in 2014: Mend it, don't end it.

"I think what most Americans want us to do is not repeal Obamacare, which is what our Republican colleagues are focused on, but fix it," Senator Chuck Schumer of New York said during a December 22 appearance on Meet the Press. "The president is working to fix it; we are working in the Senate to fix it; we urge our Republican colleagues to join us in fixing it."

Which parts of Obamacare need to be fixed, and how will Senate Democrats fix them? Schumer didn't say. Perhaps that's because a Democratic plan to fix Obamacare doesn't exist.

One Democratic senator tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD that plans to fix Obamacare haven't even been discussed at weekly Democratic Senate caucus meetings. "Never talked about it in the caucus," Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont said on Tuesday. "But I would note just a generality: It's difficult to get a consensus on fixing when the other side simply says, 'Repeal it all--all-or-nothing.'"

Other Democrats insist they're working in a smaller group on a plan to fix Obamacare, but they just haven't released it yet. "There's actually a group of us who are starting to work on a series of changes," Senator Mark Warner of Virginia told THE WEEKLY STANDARD on Tuesday. "The question will become: Will this be able to build a bipartisan approach, or it will be one side only?"

Warner didn't elaborate on who is in the group or what fixes might be proposed. "I'd rather not get into the some of the details yet," he said. The only specific problem he mentioned was the "30-hour cliff"--the law's (temporarily-suspended) provision that large employers must provide health insurance to employees who work more than 30 hours per week or pay steep fines.

Warner declined to say if he would support a delay of the individual mandate for all Americans in 2014. "I think I'll get back to you when we get the whole package together," he said.

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