Reid Wilson at National Journal’s Hotline took Nancy Pelosi’s promise to heart. She said last week that Congress had to pass the first-ever federal mandates on American citizens to purchase a product before we could see what else was in the bill. Now that it’s passed, Wilson discovers that the bill exempts perhaps thousands of staffers on Capitol Hill from a mandate to purchase coverage from government-run insurance exchanges:
House GOP aides and the non-partisan Congressional Research Service believe health care legislation passed this week requires lawmakers to enroll in government-run insurance programs — while exempting leadership staffers, many of whom were instrumental in crafting the bill.
Top staffers buzzed yesterday on an off-the-record Capitol Hill list-serv, citing the part of the mammoth legislation that deals with members of Congress. The federal government can only make available to members and their official staffs health plans created by the bill or offered through an exchange. …
The loophole for leadership staffers could impact thousands of Hill employees. There are 16 active leadership offices in the House and 26 in the Senate, according to the government transparency website LegiStorm. Some are small, with just a few employees. Others are much larger; Speaker Nancy Pelosi paid 54 employees a total of $1.1M in the last quarter of ’09, while House Min. Leader John Boehner paid his 26 staffers a total of $721K in the same quarter.
Anyone shocked by this turn of events? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
Congress has a long and notorious history for sticking America with ridiculous mandates while exempting themselves. In fact, that became a theme of the 1994 midterm elections; Newt Gingrich included in his Contract with America a requirement to end such exemptions, such as the ADA, Social Security waivers, and so on. It played well with the electorate, which rightly questioned whether Congress had decided to make itself above the laws it busily made for everyone else after 40 years of Democratic Party control.
Looks like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid didn’t learn that lesson the last time they lost the majority. It’s time for the electorate to give them another object lesson.