After intense and, sadly, bipartisan lobbying and scheming in Washington, the Obama administration announced that it is creating out of thin air a special rule to ease the pain of Obamacare -- for Washington only.
You see, a specific provision of the Obamacare law says that all Members of Congress and their staffs have to procure their health care coverage on the Obamacare Exchange, just like tens of millions of Americans. This was causing mounting fear and loathing in Washington because it threatened real disruption and significantly increased expenses. No problem, the new administration rule fixes that and ensures that a huge, special taxpayer-funded subsidy will follow the ruling class to the Obamacare Exchange to take any sting out.
The Obamacare statute states very clearly that all members of Congress and their staffs are to procure their health insurance through the Obamacare exchange. Just as clearly, it does not reconstitute government support of their present coverage under the separate Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP) as payment toward the exchange.
Furthermore, no ordinary American at that income level buying on the exchange would receive any government subsidy, much less one worth approximately $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for a family, as under the rule for Congress only. This bailout simply has been pulled out of thin air under intense and, sadly, bipartisan political pressure.
The provision of the special rule that allows individual members of Congress to define what staff is pushed to the Obamacare Exchange is particularly offensive and obnoxious. It's obviously intended to allow for a significant portion of congressional staff, like leadership staff, to be exempted from having to deal with the Obamacare Exchange, notwithstanding the whopping subsidy that the rule creates.
Of course, this is exactly what America hates most about Washington. Washington constantly treats itself better, exempts itself from the laws it imposes on middle-class Americans, and thus sets itself up as a privileged ruling class.
Obamacare's a train wreck, even for Congress? No problem. It gets fixed — FOR WASHINTON ONLY. Well what the flip about fixing it for America?
And this behind-closed-doors deal, announced right after Congress is safely away from the scene of the crime on break, was fully supported by establishment Republicans. When it comes to protecting their own, they find a way to work just beautifully with the Democrats
This week I took my outrage directly to President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. I challenged them to do the right thing and undo this insider deal, including legislatively if necessary. I have that fix already drafted and filed and will be demanding an up-or-down vote on it as soon as possible.
Washington needs to stand with the American people and not treat itself like a higher, select ruling class. Perhaps if Obama appointees and Congress have to live under the same Obamacare rules as everyone else, things would be changed quickly for the better.
Sen. David Vitter is a Republican from Louisiana.