President Obama declared that the new health care law “is going to be affecting every American family.” Except his own, of course.
The new health care law exempts the president from having to participate in it. Leadership and committee staffers in the House and Senate who wrote the bill are exempted as well. A weasel-worded definition of “staff” includes only the members’ personal staff in the new system; the committee staff that drafted the legislation opted themselves out. Because they were more familiar with the contents of the law than anyone in the country, it says a lot that they carved out their own special loophole. Anyway, the law is intended to affect “ordinary Americans,” according to Vice President Joe Biden (who - being a heartbeat away from the presidency - also is not covered), not Washington insiders.
Mr. Obama frequently tossed around the talking point that the new law gave people the same type of coverage as Congress enjoyed. In his March 20 health care pep talk to wavering Democrats on Capitol Hill, the president said one of the advantages of the health care legislation was that “people will have choice and competition just like members of Congress have choice and competition.” At yesterday’s signing ceremony, Mr. Obama said Americans will be “part of a big pool, just like federal employees are part of a big pool. They’ll have the same choice of private health insurance that members of Congress get for themselves.” But the American people will have a public pool; the executive branch and congressional staffers kept their country-club pool private.
Last year, Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, spearheaded efforts to have all Americans included in the plan, but he ran into heavy opposition from unions representing federal workers - the same unions that were pro-Obamacare stalwarts. In September, the Senate approved a scaled-down amendment that covered members of Congress and their staff. When this provision later emerged from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office, the leadership and committee staff loophole had appeared. A move in December by Mr. Grassley and Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, to close this loophole and to extend the law to senior members of the executive branch - including the president, vice president and Cabinet members - was blocked by Senate Democratic leaders.
Mr. Grassley has introduced an amendment to the Senate health care reconciliation bill that also will apply the law to the upper tier of the executive branch and all Capitol Hill staffers, but it remains to be seen whether Democrats will let this measure move forward.
The special exemptions slipped into the health care law are another example of how those statists who rule consider themselves a privileged class, imposing burdens on the country that they will not accept themselves. Candidates for office in 2010 should pledge to close these and other loopholes in the law that impose unequal burdens and create exclusive privileged classes in America. Meanwhile, we await Mr. Obama’s explanation why if his “historic” health care law is so great for America, it’s not good enough for him and his family.