<Insert snarky joke here.>
David Lawder’s article about what has happened and is happening now over this issue of Congressional health insurance premiums is more evidence of how completely dysfunctional our – rather, what used to be ‘our’ – Congress has become.
First, there’s Iowa GOP Senator Grassley. He writes an amendment to The Affordable Care Act demanding that Congress and their staff be forced to buy health insurance from the Obamacare exchanges. Forget the fact that the Act and its exchanges were designed for people without employer-sponsored healthcare insurance, not for people who already have it.
C’est la vie. Politics is politics.
Grassley and the GOP presumably felt compelled to obstruct and obfuscate yet again. That’s their modus operandi these days. They’re perfectly comfortable knowing that Grassley’s amendment made no sense and had no applicability in the real world of The Affordable Care Act. Politics in its purest form really.
Speaking of true-to-form politics, the Democrats next proceeded to cave on Grassley’s amendment. I’m sorry, they ‘comprised’ in order to…..what exactly? Not a single Republican voted for Obamacare and it seems they never will. The Democrats seem incapable of negotiating with anyone but themselves most of the time and the GOP knows it.
So now that they’re all facing the reality of actually having to pay much more for their own healthcare coverage under Grassley’s amendment, the Democrats are worried about a ‘brain drain’ from Capitol Hill?
Not to worry. Remember, this is politics.
The Office of Personnel Management just changes the rules to allow federal contributions again. The President approves it, and now administration employees, Congress, and their staff won’t have to replace the 75% of their health insurance premiums now being paid by their employer – us – for exchange-purchased plans.
Voila! Problem solved, right? They’re basically back to where they started.
If only it were that simple. Cue the predictable GOP outrage.
Michigan’s 4th district House rep and chair of the Ways & Means Committee, Dave Camp, is now complaining that this OPM ruling is more evidence of why the Act won’t work; exemptions and special treatment.
Yes, a shocker, I know, but whose fault is that? Who put this amendment in to begin with, and which party was it that wanted to single out Congress and administration staff in the first place for what looks like special-yet-punitive treatment?
Not to be outdone, Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter weighed in. He vows to overturn the Office of Personnel Management’s decision.
What? Another Republican vowing to overturn something? I’m shocked.
Mr. Camp, Mr. Vitter, and the GOP – the people who have voted 40 times now to repeal The Affordable Care Act – are emblematic of everything that is wrong in DC. They are intransigent politicians who ignore facts, demand stalemate over compromise, lack any real recognizable leadership qualities outside of ideology, and who seem perfectly comfortable lying to their constituents and the American public.
The Democrats, by the way, do the same things, just not in equal measures.
For example, what neither party is talking about or admitting is that Obamacare is a huge concession to health insurance companies who will now pick up millions of new customers by law.
The GOP does go further. They’re either ignoring or lying about the fact that The Act was never meant for people like Congressional staffers who already have a job that comes with health insurance.
Both parties ignore the fact that even more money – some of it now in the form of tax dollars to subsidize the poor’s purchase of PRIVATE INSURANCE on the exchanges – will be paid to health insurance companies just so that all Americans can have access to an over-priced and substandard healthcare system. (Sorry, but another ignored fact is that we’re not #1.)
Alas, we all know that facts matter little in politics. No, it’s not just the GOP who ignores facts. They have simply turned it into a pseudo-science of sorts at which they are masters, the likes of which will never again be equaled.
Back to the Democrats and Nancy Pelosi. It’s their turn to prove how disingenuous they can be.
Ms. Pelosi is supposedly concerned that the ‘language problem’ in Grassley’s amendment would mean that Congressional staffers who may be forced to pay more for their health insurance will beat a path off of the Hill.
Exactly who, Ms. Pelosi, is going to leave Capitol Hill over health insurance premiums? Are you pretending that Capitol Hill hasn’t devolved into the “developmental farm league” for big business, lobbyists, and all the other private big money interests that actually dictate to you, your colleagues in both parties, and who, by extension, actually run our government?
This, like most everything else in DC, is and always has been about money, not brains. (Worrying about the latter would be refreshing.)
What we need are legislators who will actually work for ALL Americans, not just the wealthy and their own personal interests.
We need campaign finance reform.
We need to end dark money in politics.
We need to wall-up the revolving door between Capitol Hill and K Street.
We need elected officials committed to the long and arduous process of amending the Constitution to overturn Citizens United while they sponsor and pass legislation like the American Anti-Corruption Act.
Unless and until big money’s influence is removed from our electoral process, legislators will remain beholden to the wealthy few who can substantially finance their campaigns now while offering lucrative post-service employment afterwards.
We can do something about it.
We can all become a Citizen Co-Sponsor of the American Anti-Corruption Act, and we can join movements like Coffee Party USA to make our voices heard. It only takes a couple of clicks and a sincere desire to make a difference.