What if Steve Lonegan, the recently nominated Republican candidate for the Senate from New Jersey, announced that, if elected, he would refuse to accept the federal government's medical insurance premium subsidy and would challenge his opponent Cory Booker to do the same? It would thrust into the public view an issue the mainstream media has ignored: that President Obama has autocratically altered his signature legislation the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) to his political advantage.
Knowing that Obamacare is unworkable, Congress begged President Obama to fix it for them. Since he could not afford to have a nonsupportive rear flank as he is unrolling a national campaign to promote enrollment in ObamaCare, he eliminated the tension by arranging for the Office of Personnel Management to allow about 11,000 lawmakers and their staff to continue to receive a federal contribution toward their health insurance. This will prevent the loss of healthcare benefits when congressmen purchase health insurance on the soon-to-be-created insurance exchanges. However, other Americans will have to contend with increased costs due to the implementation of Obamacare. Why should congressmen have a special privilege in this regard?
Why have Republican congressmen not announced that they will not accept this bribe to stop criticizing Obamacare? Apparently, President Obama's subterfuge has them in a bind. The congressmen should be alert to the possibility that their challengers in next year's primaries will question the representatives' acceptance of the money and realize their untenable position.
In fact, this subsidy was explicitly forbidden by the Grassley Amendment to the Affordable Care Act. Grassley explained, "It's only fair and logical that administration leaders and congressional staff, who fought so hard to overhaul America's health care system, experience it for themselves. If the reforms are as good as promised, then they'll know it firsthand. If there are problems, public officials will be in a position to really understand the problems, as they should."
Although previously the president modified the law by providing waivers to more than 2000 organizations of political supporters and delayed the implementation of the employer mandate, the decision to subsidize the congressmen's health insurance applies to specific individuals, i.e. congressmen, and thus the perfidy can be personalized. In each individual congressional race, raising the issue of the unjust subsidy will inform the electorate, induce outrage, and result in a landslide victory for the Republicans against Obamacare.
Peter Landesman (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the author of the book Spacemazes, with which children can have fun while learning mathematics, as well as of numerous political articles.