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August 27, 2013 3:07 PM Doubling Down On Dumb Obamacare-for-Congress Policy

By Ed Kilgore

You have to figure that Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and Mike Enzi (R-WY), plus Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) are not very popular on Capitol Hill today, particularly among congressional staff.

Two Republican senators say they’ll introduce legislation to reverse the Obama administration’s rule change allowing the federal government to contribute to Capitol Hill employee health insurance premiums.
Republicans have argued the rule change amounts to a “bailout” from ObamaCare for a favored congressional class….
Rep. Ron DeSantis, (R-Fla.) announced similar legislation yesterday for the House to take up.

As you may know if you’ve been following this saga, Sen. Chuck Grassley inserted a provision into the Affordable Care Act requiring that Members of Congress and their staffs obtain health insurance via the exchanges designed for those who do not have access to employer-sponsored health care. Grassley (and those who went along with this provision) may well have figured this entirely “symbolic” gesture of alleged self-hatred would be removed in a House-Senate conference as the demagogic inanity it undoubtedly is. But Scott Brown’s win in a 2010 special election eliminated the prospect of a conference committee, and so dumb stuff like this stayed in the bill.

When the Office of Personnel Management ruled Congress could still offer subsidies to its own employees—many earn too much to qualify for the ACA’s tax subsidies—sighs of relief could be heard in both party camps. But now Vitter—reportedly planning a gubernatorial campaign for 2015—and Enzi—being challenged in a primary next year by Liz Cheney—couldn’t resist introducing a bill to overrule OPM and reimpose a regime that would probably lead an awful lot of senior congressional staff to look for work elsewhere.

It will be interesting to see which Members jump on this particular Crazy Train.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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