Editor’s Note – Picking winners and losers, coddling the ruling elite and the ‘Members Only’ class, the Obama administration has proven that ‘let them eat cake’ is not just reserved for Marie Antoinette, it’s exactly how his administration has been operating throughout his presidency.
The government is designed, through the Constitution, to serve America, hence the term civil servant. Yet, under this regime and that of both Houses of Congress, we continue to be treated as second class; an under class now serving those inside the beltway.
The proof is in starkly relief once again, Obama cut a deal with lawmakers and their staff to fund a huge chunk of their Obamacare mandate expenses, before Congress went into its annual August recess. Again, we see selective application of the law as waivers are granted and only certain segments of the law are to be enforced as written into the law.
Without so much as a whimper, voters, especially low information voters, along with the sycophants in the Main Stream Media are giving the Obama regime a pass once again.
Members Only – How the White House is weaseling Congress out of Obama Care
The White House on Wednesday released the legal details behind its Obama Care bailout for Members of Congress and their staffs, and if anything this rescue is worse than last week’s leaks suggested: Illegal dispensations for the ruling class, different rules for the hoi polloi.
Thanks to an amendment from Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley that Democrats enacted in 2010, the Affordable Care Act says that “the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available” to Congress are the ones offered on the Obama Care insurance exchanges. But Members and many aides have been flipping out because they won’t qualify for Obama Care subsidies and they’ll lose employer contributions they now receive under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, or FEHBP, which picks up about three-quarters of the average premium.
At President Obama’s personal request, the Office of Personnel Management decreed that the Members don’t have to get off the gravy train after all. The eat-your-own-cooking provision begins with the phrase “Notwithstanding any other provision of law.” The feds now interpret that clause as a loophole to mean that the Affordable Care Act did not change the 1959 law that created the FEHBP.
Since Members and staff still technically meet the definition of federal employees qualified for the FEHBP, the Administration says they’re still entitled to enroll in the FEHBP concurrently with the exchanges. The feds then “clarify”—their euphemism—that the regulatory meaning of health benefits in the FEHBP can be Obama Care plans. Voila, taxpayers will continue to chip in $4,900 for individual and $10,000 for family coverage.
The charitable term for such legal gymnastics is creative. When statutes conflict, the bedrock administrative law obligation is to enforce the most recent statute. “Notwithstanding” clauses are routine catchalls that are supposed to emphasize Congress’s intent that a new bill is controlling and pre-empts other laws on the books.
The White House is claiming the clause means the opposite, as if the 2010 law and the 1959 law have nothing to do with each other. That is not how it is supposed to work. When Congress kicked itself out of the traditional FEHBP, it kicked itself out of the FEHBP.
At least the Members will still have to sign up for exchange coverage as the law requires. Given the lawless White House record, it probably considered finding some excuse to exempt Congress entirely and decided that option was too explosive politically. But creating a special financing stream for the political class is almost as much of an abuse.
Obama Care’s complex subsidy system, with varying levels based on income, is not incidental to the exchanges. It’s the beating heart of this exercise in wealth redistribution and social and economic central planning. The entitlement’s architects never envisioned that well-to-do movers and shakers—Mr. Obama might even call some of them “the rich”—would get (or deserve) taxpayer benefits merely because they happen to run for or work for Congress.
Millionaire Senators and the affluent professionals who are chiefs of staff, legislative directors and the like were supposed to go on the exchange and abide by its rules. There are only three insurers offering public utility-type plans on the Washington, D.C. Obama Care exchange. The FEHBP sponsors 21 plans in metro D.C. and 24 in Virginia. Perhaps as a new perquisite the White House will entice a plan to the exchange that only Members can choose.
It would have been fairer and less corrosive to the rule of law had Congress simply passed a bill giving their workers a raise to make up for the lost compensation of dropping out of the FEHBP. But that would mean an ugly political fight that voters might notice. It’s so much easier to slip through this political fix in August when Congress is out of session and the press corps can’t wait to hit the beach.