Schoen: Democrat Defections Challenge President's Leadership

Friday, 15 Nov 2013 10:08 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Political analyst Doug Schoen told Newsmax on Friday that the 39 House Democrats who "defected" to back a Republicans bill on Obamacare "showed that the president's ability to lead and to govern has been called severely into question."

"The Democrats, for the first time, are breaking ranks with the president," Schoen, who also is a Democratic pollster, told Newsmax in an exclusive interview. It also raises the question of whether Obamacare exists in the form that the president and the Democrats conceived of it."

The 261-157 vote in by the House of Representatives would allow insurers to sell health policies for another year that do not meet Obamacare's requirements.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, was supported by 39 Democrats. Four Republicans voted against it.

The day before the House vote, President Barack Obama proposed a one-year reprieve for Americans whose health plans were canceled since Obamacare's individual mandate took effect on Oct. 1.

Obama's pledge may have prevented more Democrats from supporting Upton's bill, University of Virginia political analyst Kyle Kondik told Newsmax

"That may explain why only 39 Democrats ended up voting for it," he said. "Maybe it would have been more had the president not had his 'fall-on-his-sword' moment yesterday during his press conference."

Kondik called the overall House vote — the Democratic support included — "symbolic," since "it's not going to pass the Senate, and if it did, the president would veto it. It was a purely symbolic vote."

Schoen disagreed, however, referencing Obama's promise.

"There's no guarantee that he will succeed. Already, the insurance companies are saying that there are practical problems with the president's approach.

"The bottom line: the 39 Democrats are saying, 'We're not going to align our fortunes with an increasingly unpopular president," said Schoen, who is the author of the book "Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What It Means for 2012 and Beyond." 

More broadly, though, "the program's in question," he added. "We don't know if it works. We don't know if it will work."

But Schoen concurs with Kondik that Upton's bill won't become law, since Democrats control the upper chamber on Capitol Hill.

Besides, "Harry Reid's not going to let it come up for a vote," he added, referring to the Senate Majority Leader from Nevada.

And, what signal might that send to the American people, Schoen was asked.

"It says that we've got gridlock, an impotent president and a dysfunctional government."

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