An editorial in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, “A GOP Shutdown Strategy”, offers good advice to the House Republicans for how to proceed in the shutdown stalemate. “ …the best chance to move Democrats is Louisiana Senator David Vitter’s amendment that would annul the exemption from Obama-Care that the White House carved out for Congressmen and their staff. These professionals will receive special subsidies unavailable to everybody else on the insurance exchanges, and preserving this deeply unpopular privilege would be a brutal vote for Democrats.” The House Republican Caucus should attempt to line up 218 votes to attach this provision to a continuing resolution to fund the government for all or part of the new fiscal year at the current level. If 218 votes to support this approach cannot be found, then the House should pass a clean funding resolution. Nothing else has a chance of succeeding (the idea of trying to defund Obama-Care for even one year is absurd) and the American people will grow increasingly impatient. The bigger issue by far is the need to raise the debt limit by October 17th at the latest. Here the Republicans have major leverage, namely the sequester, which takes a bigger bite out of discretionary spending each year for nine more years. The Republican House can give the Democratic Senate a choice: either agree to a sensible long range plan for spending restraint (including entitlements), or else we’ll agree to raise the debt limit for six months or so, into early 2014, and then revisit the debt limit issue after the 2014 tighter sequester limits take effect. This is what I suggest. Now we’ll wait and see what happens!
On the eve of its implementation, the Affordable Care Act (aka Obama Care) is more unpopular than ever amongst the general public. But the House Republican strategy of trying to defund the ACA as part of a continuing resolution to fund the government for the new fiscal year is a very poor idea. It will never pass both houses of Congress and be signed by the President. All it can possibly do is lead to a temporary shutdown of the government and therefore cause mass confusion.
The Wall Street Journal recently suggested a much more effective way for the House Republicans to proceed in “Carve-0uts for Congress”. The legislation establishing the ACA contains a provision requiring all members of Congress and their staffs (11,000 people in all) to purchase their own health insurance on the new exchanges which are being set up to enroll uninsured Americans. The idea behind this provision is to insure that members of Congress and their staffs and their families will obtain their insurance just like everyone else so that they will fully experience how healthcare reform actually works in practice.
But just a month ago the Administration personnel team issued a regulation exempting all Members and aides from the requirement to use the exchanges. A recent poll taken by Independent Women’s Voice shows that 92% of likely voters, regardless of their views of the ACA, think that this exemption is unfair.
The implication is clear. Republicans should show their dissatisfaction with the ACA by attaching the repeal of this exemption, which is contrary to law, as well as highly unpopular, to the continuing resolution to fund the government for the next fiscal year. Let the Democratic Senate defend this exemption if it wants too. It’s an opportunity for the House Republicans to do the right thing and also to stand with the “little guy” against the Washington elite.