Keith Ellison criticizes Obama for compromising on Obamacare, decries partisanship
Ellison: Obama should've "just put his body and soul" into fixing the ObamaCare website instead of tweaking the law itself.
Keith Ellison isn't happy about President Obama's announcement of an administrative change to the Affordable Care Act "aimed at allowing those whose insurance is being canceled over the law to keep those plans for another year," to use CNN's words.
In an interview with the Hill, Ellison says, "Honestly, I think [the announced change] undermines the program... I think [Obama] should do everything humanly imaginable to get [the balky Obamacare website] fixed as fast as possible and press on."
Ellison -- a figure not exactly known for his spirit of bipartisanship -- also took aim at Washington's "extremely polarized political environment" and said that in a less divided Congress, members would be "working on fixing the problems, coming up with rational solutions."
But given that Democrats and Republicans have such a hard time finding common ground these days, Ellison argued that Obama miscalculated in thinking his administrative change will soften the criticism he's taking from the right.
"I've been asking myself, does [Obama] believe this is going to appease his detractors? Because they are not criticizing him because of the plan's problems," Ellison said. "They are criticizing him because he's him, and that is not going to change."
Ellison told the Hill he's in favor of a single-payer health care system, but acknowledged that sort of dramatic change is probably unrealistic right now.
Later in the day, Ellison took to Twitter and announced:
I voted no on "Keep Your Health Plan" Act because it is an attempt to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
-- Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) November 15, 2013
The bill Ellison is referring to passed in the GOP-controlled House today by a largely partisan 261-157 vote. A Washington Post report details the nature of the debate surrounding it:
At issue is the "Keep Your Health Plan Act," a proposal by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) that supporters believe would fulfill President Obama's now-broken promise to let people keep their current health insurance plan if they like it.
Under the Upton proposal, anyone opting to keep their current plan wouldn't face financial penalties established by the law. And the measure would allow insurers to sell their minimal plans to new customers. The bill is expected to pass easily in the GOP-controlled House.
Most Democrats believe that the Upton bill would fundamentally gut the ACA by allowing plans not compliant with the new law to continue. They believe that the administrative fixes announced by Obama Thursday will work, or are supporting a proposal by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) that would let people keep their current health-care plans, but require insurers to provide information on new plans that meet the law's stricter requirements.
Betty McCollum joined Ellison in voting against the Upton bill. Democrats Rick Nolan, Collin Peterson, and Tim Walz broke ranks and voted for it.
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