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A big topic of conversation in the Beltway and beyond is the new Republican leadership elections scheduled for next week. While most are asking who will replace Boehner’s team, the more important question is what will they do differently?
There’s a great opportunity for new GOP leadership to differentiate themselves, which will start the process of taking advantage of their majorities in both houses. It’s past time for Republicans to move legislation that Democrats can’t duck and that will advance our strategic interests and policy goals, and it’s what Americans want to see Republicans do.
As I recently wrote in The Hill, here’s the most effective one:
When Congress enacted Obamacare the law specified that Congress and its staff would live under all the law’s requirements and go on to the exchanges same as everyone else who went on the exchanges.
Since passage, however, Congress sought and the White House granted a special exemption that does two things: it exempts some staff entirely, and it provides Members of Congress and staff, regardless of income, Gold Level coverage with a 75 percent subsidy of costs, worth about $5,000 for a single individual and $11,000 for a family, something which would be illegal for any other American to receive or business to provide.
Undoing this exemption would give members and staff, regardless of party, a huge personal incentive to repeal Obamacare and reform medical care.
Rep. DeSantis (R-Fla.) and Sen. Vitter (R-La.) introduced legislation to get rid of the exemptions, but leadership never allowed it to come to a vote.
With the current insider vs. outsider Zeitgeist driving so much of today’s politics (Trump/Carson/Fiorina vs. Boehner/McConnell/Jeb), this is hugely popular issue with more than 80% of voters wanting the exemption revoked as of last spring.
Getting rid of the Obamacare exemption, and getting Congress and their staff on the exchanges, unsubsidized, would do more to hasten the repealing and replacing of Obamacare than anything else conservatives might offer. Nothing is so motivating as health care coverage moving from being some constituent’s problem to one’s own problem.
Here’s the perfect litmus test for any new Speaker and leadership team: will they commit to hold a vote to repeal the special exemption?
Of course, there is no way that candidates for GOP leadership will initiate this on their own. It will only be adopted with a compelling chorus of constituents and the commentariat demanding Members satisfy this demand. So make yourselves heard!Published in