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OPINION - Congressman Kind and the fork in the road

by Chris Conley

NEWS BLOG (WSAU)   Ron Kind shouldn't have anything to worry about. He doesn't have an opponent yet, and, with Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids added to his district, the WI-3 is more Democrat-friendly than ever before.

Yet Kind is one of the 39 democrats who voted for the keep-your-insurance bill that the White House claimed wasn't necessary after their faux-fix from last week. This is extraordinary, especially since this is a bill that will never become law -- and probably won't even come up for a vote in the Senate. This is case of 'getting on the record'. And Kind wants to be on the record as breaking ranks with his President.

Just like the Obama fix doesn't work, the vote doesn't work for Democrats. They voted for Obamacare. Now they are trying to undo the mess it created. That's shaky ground to run for reelection on. Just imagine the attack-campaign commercial: “Ron Kind got it wrong the first time… now he’s voting to undo his mistake… can you afford more of Ron Kind’s wrong votes?” Perhaps a photo of Kind standing next the President Obama flashes across the screen.

There’s a fork in the road coming up for the White House. In one direction is increased subsidies. Congressional Republicans will balk, so the White House would have to prepare an attack-dog strategy. It would be along the lines of “we’ve figured out how to fix the health care exchanges… if only Congress wouldn’t block us.” That strategy might shift blame, but probably won’t get a bill to the President’s desk. The other choice is more radical. Suppose the White House raises the white flag on Obamacare and says it would support a repeal of the law. There would be a catch. Republicans must prepare a substitute bill that becomes the new law, supposedly with bipartisan support that takes effect immediately. The President would still get credit for enacting health care reform. He’d have to share the credit for what works, and swallow hard. But he would also have the rest of his term to pursue an agenda – something he can’t do the way things are now.

Chris Conley
11.18.13