Plan B: House may vote to end ObamaCare subsidies for members of Congress and staff

posted at 5:21 pm on September 24, 2013 by Allahpundit

David Vitter’s been pushing that idea for weeks, Rand Paul started pushing something similar himself in the past few days, and now, per NRO, Boehner may be inching towards it as a fallback option if/when the House’s ObamaCare defunding bill ends up being squashed by the Senate.

A growing number of congressional Republicans believe GOP leadership in the House and Senate will inevitably embrace a proposal spearheaded by Senator David Vitter to end a special Obamacare subsidy for congressional staffers.

Vitter will try to add it as an amendment to the government-funding bill under consideration in the Senate, and Speaker John Boehner is considering trying to force the issue when the bill comes back to the House…

Under Obamacare, members of Congress and their staffs were required to purchase health insurance in the exchange markets. Last month, after President Obama personally intervened in the matter, the Office of Personnel Management decided the federal government will continue to subsidize staffers’ health insurance at the cost of thousands of dollars per year per employee. “They’re going to be the only people in America who get these subsidies,” DeSantis says.

But the proposal to end the subsidies is highly unpopular on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers and staff have balked at the hit to their incomes Vitter’s proposal would entail.

Read yesterday’s post for the background on this and why it has potential to make Democrats squirm. The difference between Paul’s and Vitter’s proposals, I believe, is that Paul wants to force all federal employees to buy insurance on the exchanges while Vitter wants to focus on ending special insurance subsidies only for top federal officials and their staff — the president, Congress, maybe the Supreme Court. As NRO notes, Democrats would have an easier time voting against Paul’s bill than Vitter’s because they can argue that it’s unfair to disrupt health coverage for rank-and-file blue-collar federal employees over a partisan ObamaCare dispute. It’s harder to make that argument when we’re not talking about the rank and file but rather Congress and its support staff, and it’s really hard to make that argument about special federal subsidies that only our political leaders and their aides get. If ObamaCare’s so wonderful, fine — let the people’s representatives and staff try to manage the cost of it the way average Americans will have to. If they can’t bring themselves to do that, then they’ll have to explain why they think ObamaCare’s so wonderful. There’s no way out. And if, as many on the Hill fear, this leads to a “brain drain” where aides end up quitting because they can’t afford insurance on the exchanges on their salaries without subsidies, even better. That’s as vivid an example as you could want that the law is too burdensome. I’ll be shocked if this doesn’t end up in the GOP’s final list of demands for resolving the CR standoff. The only stumbling block is that … Republicans are worried about the brain drain too, and might block Vitter’s bill for those purely selfish reasons. How the GOP will defend that to its base if that happens, I can’t begin to imagine.

Now, something that’s been bugging me: Whatever happened to the “let it burn” crowd from the “fiscal cliff” deal late last year? Remember them? There was a segment of conservatives online that argued after Obama’s reelection that the only way Americans would see what a grave error they’d made is to let the Democrats pass their agenda in full. You want higher taxes and unsustainable spending? You got it. Enjoy the economic consequences, and remember which party is responsible when the inevitable deterioration begins. Pure, clean, simple, and yes, apocalyptic, but for a reason. Here’s a post by RB at the Right Sphere from last November that explains the strategy elegantly. I remember Ace’s co-blogger DrewM also arguing for it repeatedly. And yet, 10 months later, with ObamaCare already starting to smoke during implementation, the “let it burn” contingent seems to have disappeared. Why? If ever there was a moment to give the public a hard lesson in what liberal utopianism can do, this is it. There are new stories about economic and logistical headaches related to O-Care in the media every day. If you’re confident that this train is headed off the tracks, then shouldn’t let-it-burners want to toss some coal in the engine and hurry it along? If Ted Cruz can’t convince the public to defund, maybe having to live with this giant boondoggle for awhile will, no?


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