By Harold Pease, Ph. D
“If ObamaCare is hurting people, & it is, why shouldn’t it hurt the insurance companies & why should Congress not be paying what the public pays?” tweeted the President. Donald Trump wants to remove privileged taxpayer subsidies to members of Congress, their staffs, and insurance companies, at least until they pass something on healthcare.
On November 8, 2013, each member of Congress, with little media coverage, chose whether they and their staffs accepted the Obama exemption exempting them from having to live under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as did their constituents, they could go elsewhere, costing more, and be subsidized by the taxpayer. And the exemption was made easy to accept. If lawmakers didn’t act, staffers were exempted by default—automatically. Did your two U.S. Senators and member of the House of Representatives choose to exempt themselves from ObamaCare while still pushing it on you?
Most Americans were not supportive of ObamaCare when signed into law March 23, 2010. Today, seven years later, most would vote against it as well, especially in light of its history of rate increases and higher deductibles, although President Barack Obama promised otherwise. And most have not been able to keep their doctors or providers. Big business and unions opted out of it, when possible, as fast as they could.
In what appeared aimed to mute congressional opposition to the forced healthcare law, Obama allowed Congress to opt out, leaving only the American people enslaved by the legislation they created. Last week Congress did not repeal ObamaCare in part because they would loose their ability to choose other plans because of the subsidies. Trump wants them to lose their privileged status.
At first some members of Congress convincingly denied that they had received an exemption but Senator David Vitter published the Obamacare language next to the Obama exemption. The first read in part: “If the employee purchases a qualified health plan through the Exchange the employee will lose the employer contribution (if any) to any health benefits plan offered by the employer and that all or a portion of such contribution may be excludable from income for Federal income tax purposes” (See Section 1512, number 3). The second, the Obama Congressional exemption, coming through the Office of Personnel Management, page 6, read in part: “The revisions adopted here have no impact on the availability to Member of Congress and Congressional Staff of the contribution established in 5 USC 8906” (Alex Pappas, “Republican accuses fellow lawmakers of ‘lying’ about Obamacare exemption,” 9/19/2013). Since the federal government was their employer they would not lose the subsidy as would others by not accepting ObamacCare.
Obama, who had no constitutional authority to make law, unilaterally changed the law in 2013 and voided, otherwise mandatory, congressional participation. This presumably to grease the skids for members of Congress accepting what in any other setting would be called a bribe. They defined their employees as “official” or “not official,” to determine whether or not staff members had to enter the exchanges. Because the exception was not part of the original law and came about thereafter by executive change, Trump can nullify by the same power.
The hypocrisy of forcing the people to live under what they themselves will not is beyond description and at the height of political corruption. If the president is going to lead us into socialized medicine then he must accept it for himself. If the Supreme Court is going to rule it constitutional, they too must live under it. This should be the litmus test for the reelection of every U.S. Senator and member of the House of Representatives for the next several years to flush out of office those who exempt themselves from the laws that they make for others. All members of Congress made this decision on November 8, 2013. Did they choose to live above the law? If so, corruption has never been so clear and stark.
Most House Republicans opted to submit themselves and their staffs to the exemption of the law because they despised the law and played virtually no role in its inception. But Senate Democrats, who all voted for it, appeared hypocritical when they too supported the exemption. We believe that no exemptions should be made for anyone who works in government. How will they govern correctly if they have immunized themselves from the pain they cause others?
We support Senator Rand Paul’s Constitutional Amendment designed to require our government to live under the same laws that they make for us. They are not our masters but our servants.
Insurance companies have been given huge subsidies, taken primarily from the middle class, to entice them to keep prices lower for those with lower incomes. If these are cut this week, as Trump threatens, ObamaCare may collapse even more quickly and Trump and Republicans may be blamed, so cut them gradually beginning now. But there is no sympathy for members of Congress and their staffs—cut them immediately and insurance subsidies 5 or 10% per month until ended. More insurance companies, thus more options and lower prices, will develop quickly as has always been the case under the free market, when truly free.
Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.