DaveJ at Openleft.org has made an excellent point. When middle class Americans find out what efforts to reduce the price tag of reform by reducing subsidies means to them, it could be very bad.
My understanding is that the Senate Finance Committee bill will likely force any family making over 300% of the FPL to buy insurance from a private insurance company at full price. That means an older couple making around $45,000 could be forced to pay a private insurance company over $10,000 in premiums alone. Add in co-pays and deductibles, and that couple could be forced to spend upwards of $20,000 on health care a year.
Voters when polled claim to care about the federal deficit and the cost of government programs, but it rarely becomes an election issue. In the abstract, voters might think for awhile that $1 trillion or $1.5 trillion sounds pricey. But when reform kicks in, they will know $20,000 is very expensive for them.
Reducing the official price tag might sound like smart politics now, but almost no one is going to change their vote because the official CBO number was $950 billion instead of $1.3 trillion. People's votes will change when they find out what Democrats consider “affordable” - forcing citizens to pay over 20% of their income to a private insurance company.
Politically it would be a very bad idea if the Democrats' compromises, intended to gain a handful of Republican votes, ended up making their signature program very unpopular.