Congressional leaders in both parties are engaged in high-level, confidential talks about exempting lawmakers and Capitol Hill aides from the insurance exchanges they are mandated to join as part of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, sources in both parties said.
The talks — which involve Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the Obama administration and other top lawmakers — are extraordinarily sensitive, with both sides acutely aware of the potential for political fallout from giving carve-outs from the hugely controversial law to 535 lawmakers and thousands of their aides. Discussions have stretched out for months, sources said.
There are so many things wrong with this it’s difficult to know where to begin. Let’s start with hypocrisy. We’re now faced with the specter of having the very people who created this monstrosity admitting — through their desperate attempt to evade it — that it’s a disaster. If that’s the case, why not give everybody a “carve out” by repealing the entire bill? When did we morph into a country where our elected representatives can force a wildly unpopular law on us serfs out here in flyover country, then exempt themselves and their cronies from its provisions? When did America become an aristocracy?
A source close to the talks says: “Everyone has to hold hands on this and jump, or nothing is going to get done.”…
Democrats, in particular, would take a public hammering as the traditional boosters of Obamacare. Republicans would undoubtedly attempt to shred them over any attempt to escape coverage by it, unless Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) give Democrats cover by backing it.
Ya think? Can anyone explain to me why Boehner and McConnell would even consider giving Democrats cover on this? If any GOP lawmaker signs on to this, they need to be primaried regardless of who they are. Boehner’s excuse:
When asked about the high-level bipartisan talks, Michael Steel, a Boehner spokesman, said: “The speaker’s objective is to spare the entire country from the ravages of the president’s health care law. He is approached daily by American citizens, including members of Congress and staff, who want to be freed from its mandates. If the speaker has the opportunity to save anyone from Obamacare, he will.”
So the Speaker is trying really hard to spare the entire country from Obamacare but, failing that, he’ll be happy to provide cover to the Democrats for their hypocrisy and settle for an exemption for him and his Capitol Hill cronies. Think about that. What is it, specifically, that has our beltway betters so intent on escaping Obamacare’s clutches? Its onerous costs, of course:
There is concern in some quarters that the provision requiring lawmakers and staffers to join the exchanges, if it isn’t revised, could lead to a “brain drain” on Capitol Hill, as several sources close to the talks put it.
The problem stems from whether members and aides set to enter the exchanges would have their health insurance premiums subsidized by their employer — in this case, the federal government. If not, aides and lawmakers in both parties fear that staffers — especially low-paid junior aides — could be hit with thousands of dollars in new health care costs, prompting them to seek jobs elsewhere. Older, more senior staffers could also retire or jump to the private sector rather than face a big financial penalty.
Plus, lawmakers — especially those with long careers in public service and smaller bank accounts — are also concerned about the hit to their own wallets.
Priceless: The people who occupy the one city in the country which has escaped Obama’s third world economy are worried about Obamacare’s onerous costs. What about the rest of us? And, incidentally, what’s all this talk about a big financial penalty” and “thousands of dollars in new health care costs”? Didn’t Obama promise that Obamacare would lower health insurance premiums by about $2500 per family? Oh yes, he did.
Right. Am I the only one still looking for those savings? Anyway, there’s at least one Republican in Washington who gets it. Take it away, Senator Burr:
“I have no problems with Congress being under the same guidelines,” Burr said. “I think if this is going to be a disaster — which I think it’s going to be — we ought to enjoy it together with our constituents.”
Bingo. Now if only someone will get word to Boehner and McConnell.
Update: (h/t RedDaveR) Mark Levin spent a few minutes today on this topic. Click image below to listen: