EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


September 22, 2013

Column: Obama's rules apply to all but Congress and his friends


The administration, with help from both parties in Congress, has been trying to keep it under the radar – you know, so the little people won’t get restive – but on the inside there is a bare-knuckled brawl over it.

It probably never would have been a problem for the ruling class if it hadn’t been for those lousy Republicans – you know, the ones who want to hurt the poor and middle class – who, way back in 1995, were able to push through the Congressional Accountability Act to fulfill one of the promises made in the Contract with America, that members of Congress should live by the same civil-rights employment and labor laws that lawmakers forced on everybody else. Sounds a lot like “everybody plays by the same rules.”

Then, in 2009, during the debate over ObamaCare, another Republican, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, was able to insert an amendment that required all members of Congress and their staffs to get insurance through the Obamacare health exchanges – like everybody else.

But, as the due date for joining health exchanges approached, the firestorm struck Capitol Hill. The consensus of employment lawyers was that the $5,000 to $10,000 federal health-insurance subsidies for those on the Congressional payroll would have to end.

So, last month, the president quietly rode to the rescue during the August recess, ordering the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to interpret the law in direct conflict with that legal consensus, and let those subsidies continue.

This would make members of Congress and their personal staffers the only participants in the ObamaCare exchanges to get subsidies from their employer (paid by you, the taxpayer).

The legality of this is, to put it charitably, dubious. The law, as written, does not, “permit either exchange contributions or a unilateral bump in Congressional pay in return for less overall compensation,” the Wall Street Journal noted.

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