ObamaCare for thee, little peons, but not for the majestic aristocracy of Congress and their loyal courtiers! His Majesty King Barack I has once again sniffed disdainfully at that dust-covered old scrap of parchment we call “The Constitution,” dispensed with its antiquated “separation of powers” claptrap, and issued a royal decree that Congress shall be immune from the health-care boondoggle that’s killing the American job market.
The Affordable Care Act requires Members of Congress and their staffs to participate in its insurance exchanges, in order to gain first-hand experience with what they’re about to impose on their constituents. Harry Truman enrolled as the first Medicare beneficiary in 1965, and why shouldn’t the Members live under the same laws they pass for the rest of the country?
That was the idea when Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley proposed the original good-enough-for-thee, good-enough-for-me amendment in 2009, and the Finance Committee unanimously adopted his rule. Declared Chairman Max Baucus, “I’m very gratified that you have so much confidence in our program that you’re going to be able to purchase the new program yourself and I’m confident too that the system will work very well.”
Harry Reid revised the Grassley amendment when he rammed through his infamous ObamaCare bill that no one had read for a vote on Christmas eve. But he neglected to include language about what would happen to the premium contributions that the government makes for its employees. Whether it was intentional or not, the fairest reading of the statute as written is that if Democrats thought somebody earning $174,000 didn’t deserve an exchange subsidy, then this person doesn’t get a subsidy merely because he happens to work in Congress.
But all of that is old news, because His Majesty has once again asserted powers absolutely unknown to the Constitution, and rewritten a duly ratified body of law to create a very special carve-out for those very special six-figure employees of Congress. There’s not a single phrase in the Affordable Care Act that gives the President executive power to lift the ObamaCare requirements from the ruling class, any more than he has the power to unilaterally revise the date when the employer mandate goes into effect on the lowly serfs in the private sector.
But Obama calculated that American patriotism has run dry enough to keep anyone from objecting too strongly if he just rewrote the law to favor those bloated congressional offices. You know, the same geniuses who foisted ObamaCare on us in the first place. Obviously they just couldn’t go through the legislative process laid out in the Constitution! They might have lost the necessary votes, or given ObamaCare critics an opportunity to assail the disastrous Affordable Care Act again. And you wretched peasants clearly cannot be trusted with representative rule in such important matters.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that runs federal benefits will release regulatory details this week, but leaks to the press suggest that Congress will receive extra payments based on the [Federal Employees Health Benefit Program] defined-contribution formula, which covers about 75% of the cost of the average insurance plan. For 2013, that’s about $4,900 for individuals and $10,000 for families.
How OPM will pull this off is worth watching. Is OPM simply going to cut checks, akin to “cashing out” fringe benefits and increasing wages? Or will OPM cover 75% of the cost of the ObamaCare plan the worker chooses—which could well be costlier than what the feds now contribute via current FEHBP plans? In any case the carve-out for Congress creates a two-tier exchange system, one for the great unwashed and another for the politically connected.
This is exactly the kind of arbitrary imperial whimsy that America was founded against. For a while, we went through the motions of pretending the rule of law applied, but it’s increasingly clear that the rule of law is fundamentally incompatible with ObamaCare. The President and his Party dumped a pile of corrupt legal code into the American system; America must now be rewritten to make ObamaCare run.
Perhaps Obama’s judgment upon this weakened nation is correct. The fires of 1776 have burned down to cold ashes. Clear grounds for impeachment result in not even the most casual discussion of consequences for the President. The American people are no longer jealous of liberty, and no longer expect their central government to obey the law. It makes sense that the ruling class would enjoy privileges and immunities unavailable to the general public. They’re better than us – smarter, wiser, less selfish, more visionary. When Congress began crying for its ObamaCare waiver, it wailed about a “brain drain” caused by top staffers abandoning public service due to their increased health insurance expenses. We can’t have that, can we? Our nation cannot afford to lose the Great Men and Women of government to the grimy drudgery of private sector employment.
Everyone knows Washington could not possibly survive the sort of financial audit it routinely inflicts on private industry. Why expect Congress to bear the same ObamaCare burden it eagerly imposes upon the private sector? We all know the ruling class was never going to stand before the death panels and beg them to fudge quality-of-life spreadsheets, so they could have access to tightly rationed medical resources. Why expect them to be satisfied with overpriced low-quality health insurance like the rest of us?
Speaking of which, for those keeping score on the degeneration of ObamaCare, Aetna just announced it would bail out of the Maryland health insurance exchange, because it says it couldn’t stay in business if it obeyed regulatory demands. The company, which is one of the nation’s largest providers, previously withdrew from the exchanges in Georgia and California. And South Carolina became the latest state to estimate huge increases in the cost of insurance due to ObamaCare – 50 to 70 percent for individual insurance plans, 10 to 20 percent in the small group market.
Who can blame Congress for wanting to escape from that? You can’t expect our best and brightest to pay those inflated premiums. But they most certainly expect you to pay them, and if you don’t, you’ll be dealing with the Internal Revenue Service… whose agents are also looking for an ObamaCare waiver, naturally.