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Less than one month after walking away from the debt ceiling debate victorious, it appears as though Democrats are now in retreat as the House leadership braced for the most painful healthcare vote yet. With 39 moderate Democrats breaking ranks, it would seem the Republicans hold the advantage in seeking a solution that would allow Americans to keep their current insurance plans through 2014 even if those plans do not meet the standards for basic coverage outlined in the Affordable Care Act.

The measure, introduced by Representative Fred Upton of Michigan passed the House with near unanimous Republican support. However, many vulnerable House Democrats broke ranks and moved to vote on for the resolution rather than risk further connection to President Obama.

With the president appearing ineffective at deflecting attacks from both left and right on his signature healthcare law and his approval rating hitting all time lows, many Democrats likely decided to fight another day. Even worse for the president is the fact that Republicans may finally be embracing political practically by proposing a bill that only differs with Obama's executive 'fix' in that it allows insurance companies to sell the 'substandard' plans to all Americans through 2014 as opposed to only allowing those who had previously purchased the plans to keep their insurance through 2014.

While in the Senate the Republican plan will likely never be brought up and Obama himself has vowed to veto the measure, Sens. Mark ¬≠Begich (Alaska), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.) have proposed similar legislation that is gaining the support of other moderate Democrats such as Sens. Machin and Pyror.  

Nevertheless, whatever happens to the Senate Democratic plan, Obama and Reid's refusal to consider the Republican plan puts the Democrats in a situation the majority party rarely finds itself in. For the moment it appears that the Democrats find themselves playing the role of the 'Party of No' while fighting the tide of popular opinion.

More significantly it appears that the Democrats have lost all the momentum they had coming out of the debt ceiling negations. Indeed as the awkward rollout of the ACA continues, Republicans will continue to hold up the President's promise that you can keep your insurance and your doctor as an example of ineffective and dishonest Democratic governing.

If Democrats do not want the 2014 midterms to be a repeat of 2010, Obama and Congressional Democrats must present a unified front against the Republicans or otherwise work on a compromise solution to bury this toxic issue as soon as possible.

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