Obamacare exemptions for Hill staff?

Rick Moran
Well, sure. Why should our elite congressional members and aides wallow in the muck of state insurance exchanges? Better to exempt them from being forced to interact with the hoi polloi lest they actually are treated just like any other citizen.

Politico:

Congressional leaders in both parties are engaged in high-level, confidential talks about exempting lawmakers and Capitol Hill aides from the insurance exchanges they are mandated to join as part of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, sources in both parties said.

The talks - which involve Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the Obama administration and other top lawmakers - are extraordinarily sensitive, with both sides acutely aware of the potential for political fallout from giving carve-outs from the hugely controversial law to 535 lawmakers and thousands of their aides. Discussions have stretched out for months, sources said.

A source close to the talks says: "Everyone has to hold hands on this and jump, or nothing is going to get done."

Yet if Capitol Hill leaders move forward with the plan, they risk being dubbed hypocrites by their political rivals and the American public. By removing themselves from a key Obamacare component, lawmakers and aides would be held to a different standard than the people who put them in office.

Democrats, in particular, would take a public hammering as the traditional boosters of Obamacare. Republicans would undoubtedly attempt to shred them over any attempt to escape coverage by it, unless Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) give Democrats cover by backing it.

There is concern in some quarters that the provision requiring lawmakers and staffers to join the exchanges, if it isn't revised, could lead to a "brain drain" on Capitol Hill, as several sources close to the talks put it.

The problem stems from whether members and aides set to enter the exchanges would have their health insurance premiums subsidized by their employer -- in this case, the federal government. If not, aides and lawmakers in both parties fear that staffers -- especially low-paid junior aides -- could be hit with thousands of dollars in new health care costs, prompting them to seek jobs elsewhere. Older, more senior staffers could also retire or jump to the private sector rather than face a big financial penalty.

Plus, lawmakers -- especially those with long careers in public service and smaller bank accounts -- are also concerned about the hit to their own wallets.

You can see how they are trying to talk themselves into it. Oh dear, the dreaded "Brain Drain!" Let me tell you something after having worked around the Hill for a decade and still have friends up there; these guys aren't rocket scientists. There are some smart folks up there, but believe me when I tell you that for every staffer who quits over this, there will be 10 ready and willing to take his/her place - a hit to their wallet notwithstanding. And the place wouldn't miss a beat. The new hires would be just as effective, just as competent as those they replaced.

For most, a Capitol Hill job is a stepping stone to one of the big law firms or lobbying shops in town. Senior committee aides and retiring members can virtually write their own ticket. Long-serving aides for committees and members might be motivated by a different agenda, but they all end up in the same place eventually. Some have their own political ambitions. But the name of the game is connections and if they lose a bunch of staffers over the fact that they are treated like any other American, it's a small price to pay - if any price is paid at all. The staffers win because they end up being hired and getting paid a helluva lot more than they made on The Hill. And Congress won't collapse because of the losses. They will continue to grind out legislation and move the ball forward with less experienced, but just as eager, staffers.

They should not be allowed to slip away from joining the rest of America in misery. They sowed it. Now let them reap it.



Well, sure. Why should our elite congressional members and aides wallow in the muck of state insurance exchanges? Better to exempt them from being forced to interact with the hoi polloi lest they actually are treated just like any other citizen.

Politico:

Congressional leaders in both parties are engaged in high-level, confidential talks about exempting lawmakers and Capitol Hill aides from the insurance exchanges they are mandated to join as part of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, sources in both parties said.

The talks - which involve Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the Obama administration and other top lawmakers - are extraordinarily sensitive, with both sides acutely aware of the potential for political fallout from giving carve-outs from the hugely controversial law to 535 lawmakers and thousands of their aides. Discussions have stretched out for months, sources said.

A source close to the talks says: "Everyone has to hold hands on this and jump, or nothing is going to get done."

Yet if Capitol Hill leaders move forward with the plan, they risk being dubbed hypocrites by their political rivals and the American public. By removing themselves from a key Obamacare component, lawmakers and aides would be held to a different standard than the people who put them in office.

Democrats, in particular, would take a public hammering as the traditional boosters of Obamacare. Republicans would undoubtedly attempt to shred them over any attempt to escape coverage by it, unless Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) give Democrats cover by backing it.

There is concern in some quarters that the provision requiring lawmakers and staffers to join the exchanges, if it isn't revised, could lead to a "brain drain" on Capitol Hill, as several sources close to the talks put it.

The problem stems from whether members and aides set to enter the exchanges would have their health insurance premiums subsidized by their employer -- in this case, the federal government. If not, aides and lawmakers in both parties fear that staffers -- especially low-paid junior aides -- could be hit with thousands of dollars in new health care costs, prompting them to seek jobs elsewhere. Older, more senior staffers could also retire or jump to the private sector rather than face a big financial penalty.

Plus, lawmakers -- especially those with long careers in public service and smaller bank accounts -- are also concerned about the hit to their own wallets.

You can see how they are trying to talk themselves into it. Oh dear, the dreaded "Brain Drain!" Let me tell you something after having worked around the Hill for a decade and still have friends up there; these guys aren't rocket scientists. There are some smart folks up there, but believe me when I tell you that for every staffer who quits over this, there will be 10 ready and willing to take his/her place - a hit to their wallet notwithstanding. And the place wouldn't miss a beat. The new hires would be just as effective, just as competent as those they replaced.

For most, a Capitol Hill job is a stepping stone to one of the big law firms or lobbying shops in town. Senior committee aides and retiring members can virtually write their own ticket. Long-serving aides for committees and members might be motivated by a different agenda, but they all end up in the same place eventually. Some have their own political ambitions. But the name of the game is connections and if they lose a bunch of staffers over the fact that they are treated like any other American, it's a small price to pay - if any price is paid at all. The staffers win because they end up being hired and getting paid a helluva lot more than they made on The Hill. And Congress won't collapse because of the losses. They will continue to grind out legislation and move the ball forward with less experienced, but just as eager, staffers.

They should not be allowed to slip away from joining the rest of America in misery. They sowed it. Now let them reap it.