- - Thursday, April 23, 2015

Successful congressional candidates of both parties often — perhaps usually — suffer amnesia when they get to Washington, and get a glance of the vast buffet of perks Congress votes for itself. They forget a lot of the promises they made during their successful campaigns for Congress. Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, a Republican, has not forgotten. He’s trying to find out who certified that Congress is a “small business” so its members and their highly paid staffs could be eligible for an Obamacare subsidy for employees of businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

Mr. Vitter is fighting almost alone. Most other members of Congress are conveniently uninterested in knowing how this remarkable absurdity came about — indeed, the Senate Dining Room alone, where senators and their guests dine on cut-rate vittles, has that many employees. Nevertheless, 14 of Mr. Vitter‘s colleagues on the Senate Small Business Committee, including Sen. Rand Paul, who is running for president, voted to block Mr. Vitter‘s attempt to subpoena nine pages of documents from the Washington, D.C. health care exchange that might reveal what’s going on.

Mr. Vitter is winning no popularity contest in the Senate by pushing Congress to abide by the same rules the rest of America must obey. He thinks members of the House and Senate, and their staffs, should share the indignities Congress has put upon millions of other Americans who are required to buy insurance from an Obamacare exchange. It’s not merely a matter of balancing the scales. If Congress is not required to conduct its business according to the rules it establishes for everyone else it will be insulated from the consequences of bad law, and won’t have an incentive to change anything.

“The House and Senate falsely certified themselves as small businesses so they could fund health insurances for themselves and their staff with taxpayer dollars,” says Phil Kerpen, the head of the advocacy group American Commitment. “It would be nice to know who signed the documents making all that possible.”

Five Republican senators support Mr. Vitter‘s attempt to get the subpoena: Marco Rubio of Florida, Tim Scott of South Carolina, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Joni Ernst of Iowa. They’re honorable exceptions to the amnesia that often afflicts newly arriving congressmen. Mr. Vitter promises now to “continue to investigate this and to fight Washington‘s special Obamacare exemption until Congress has to live under the law just like the rest of America.” He will be under pressure to obey the first rule of congressional service, dating from the founding: “To get along, go along.”

The curious resolve of most of the senators to ignore this congressional loophole raises further doubt that the congressional leadership is still committed to the repeal of Obamacare, and replacing it with something market-oriented, patient-friendly and doctor-neighborly, something that does not use the rationing of care to bend the cost curve downward, as the Republican leaders have emphatically promised they would do. If the congressional loophole is as good as it sounds Congress should invite the rest of us to join the Capitol Hill 14,000. Who among the senators will say, out loud, that their constituents don’t deserve it?

Sign up for Daily Opinion Newsletter

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide