by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Obamacare includes a provision that should cost each member of Congress and each staffer $5,000 to $11,000 per year. Needless to say, the ruling class was not pleased.
Congress wasn’t about to try to exempt itself from this provision explicitly, though. If John Q. Congressman voted to give himself an Obamacare waiver that his constituents don’t get, he wouldn’t be John Q. Congressman much longer. What’s an aristocrat to do?
On July 30, I predicted that, even though he had no authority to do so, President Obama would waive that provision at taxpayers’ expense. On August 1, he ignobly obliged the aristocracy by decreeing we peasants give each member and staffer $5,000 or $11,000, depending on whether they want self-only or family coverage. It’s good to be king.
The president’s supporters, like courtesans of old, are trying to quell a peasant uprising by denying there were any special favors. The denials ring hollow.
Obamacare imposes two costs on members of Congress and their staff. First, it kicks them out of their current health plans, leaving them to buy coverage on Obamacare’s health-insurance “exchanges.” Second, it makes no provision for the federal government to keep paying $5,000 or $11,000 toward the cost of their insurance as the Treasury does today.
The second cost is by far the larger one; it amounts to a pay cut of $5,000 or $11,000. Many staffers were threatening to quit or retire early.
When the president’s supporters claim that Congress isn’t being exempted, they mean that Obama didn’t exempt them from Cost No. 1. Which is true. But he did exempt them from Cost No. 2.