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The cracks are beginning to show in the Democratic Party over one of the most unpopular provisions of Obamacare. Today Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia said he would support a delay of the individual mandate if it was part of a spending deal.
“There’s no way I could not vote for it,” Manchin said at a Bloomberg Government breakfast today. “It’s very reasonable and sensible.”
The House and Senate are in the midst of trying to negotiate a deal to keep the government operating with the passage of a continuing resolution. The House passed CR contained defunding for Obamacare, something that Ted Cruz argued for during his 21-plus hour speech this week on the Senate floor. A group of conservative senators led by Cruz, Mike Lee and Rand Paul are pushing to find a way to chip away at Obamacare by attaching provisions to the must pass CR and likely the upcoming deal on extending the debt-ceiling next month.
After Cruz's marathon Obamacare slugfest, pressure has been ratcheted up on his Senate colleagues. Numerous accounts have been listed of their offices being flooded with phone calls urging wider support for Obamacare delay in the Senate. The next target for anti-Obamacare activists is the swath of red state Democrats, some of whom must face their voters next year. With the unpopularity of the law building, these Democrats could face an increasingly hostile electorate back home urging them to change their stance of support for the President's signature legislative achievement.
Manchin, 66, said he’d be willing to delay the individual mandate as part of the budget negotiations because the Obama administration in July gave businesses an extra year to provide their workers with health insurance.
“Don’t put the mandate on the American public right now,” Manchin said. “Give them at least a year. If you know you couldn’t bring the corporate sector, you gave them a year, don’t you think it’d be fair?”
Many of the House Republicans are backed by the limited-government Tea Party movement, which is trying to cripple the law. FreedomWorks, an organization tied to the Tea Party, is targeting college campuses, telling young adults to not sign up for the government-run insurance exchanges scheduled to roll out on Oct. 1.
Senator Manchin may be the first of the red state Democrats to buckle, but Mark Pryor, Bill Nelson and Mark Begich could follow.