RUSH: Ladies and gentlemen, it looks like the Drive-By Media has finally gotten around to reporting the carve-out that Congress has been granted on subsidies for Obamacare. If you recall, last week members of Congress and primarily their staffs — again, they make anywhere from $170,000 to $174,000 a year — complained that they couldn’t afford insurance under the law of Obamacare. They were demanding subsidies.
They didn’t qualify for subsidies, but they said they couldn’t afford it. So Obama personally negotiated 75%-of-the-cost subsidies for members of Congress and congressional staff. They will be subsidized to the tune of 75% by the Office of Personnel Management. They are not going to have to qualify for subsidies the way everybody else does at a state exchange. They are not going to have to go to an exchange.
Essentially Obama, the federal government, has agreed that members of Congress and their staffs will have 75% of their health insurance costs paid for by the Office of Personnel Management. Now, the big news hit on Thursday and Friday. I remember predicting on Friday… Snerdley was sitting here thinking, “Boy, wait till this blows up! This is going to cause a tidal wave.”
I said, “Snerdley, it isn’t going to get reported and nobody is going to hear about it. And it didn’t. It was a ho-hummer over the weekend and only yesterday started to be reported in places outside the alternative media. Now Reuters has a story, “Congress Wins Relief on Obamacare Health Plan Subsidies — Congress has won some partial relief for lawmakers and their staffs from the Obamacare health reforms that it passed and subjected itself to three years ago.”
That’s a point I should make again. The members of Congress, as one of these falling-on-the-swords kinds of things, did this to tell us, the serfs, “Well, hey, we’re going to be using the same system you do.” Well, they found out they couldn’t afford it. So they started bellyaching and whining, moaning and crying and they got relief. Obama personally made sure that the government’s going to subsidize them.
“Congress has won some partial relief for lawmakers and their staffs from the Obamacare health reforms that it passed and subjected itself to three years ago. In a ruling issued on Wednesday, US lawmakers and their staffs will continue to receive a federal contribution toward the health insurance that they must purchase through soon-to-open exchanges created by President Barack Obama’s [Obamacare] law.
“The decision by the Office of Personnel Management, with Obama’s blessing…” It wasn’t a “blessing.” He came over there and demanded it! He told them they were going to do it! “The decision by the Office of Personnel Management, with Obama’s blessing, will prevent the largely unintended loss of healthcare benefits for 535 members of the Senate and House of Representatives and thousands of Capitol Hill staff.”
Awww, let’s all start crying!
Did you hear that sentence? (paraphrased) “Yeah, it was an unintended consequence. You know what? Members of Congress and their staffs, they were going to lose their health care!” No, they weren’t. They were going to have to get it the same way everybody else did, and it wasn’t good enough. They weren’t going to “lose it” unless they didn’t buy it. They just decided they didn’t want to spend the money that it’s going to cost.
Folks, it’s no more complicated than that. Members of Congress and their staff just decided they didn’t want to spend that much money on health care, so they started saying, “We can’t afford that! (sobbing).” Well, why did you force it on the American people? “Well they’re going to get subsidies!” No, not everybody is going to get subsidies. Anyway, they do now from the Office of Personnel Management.
The mainstream media finally got around to reporting this outrageous carve-out today. Actually, it happened late yesterday afternoon. So we’ll see if it… This is a Reuters story. We’ll see if it begins to reach further, if the tentacles of this story find their way deeper into the fabric of the news society. I doubt it. (snorts) I remember back in 1988 and ’89 when the House Bank Scandal hit.
I remember they asked me to go on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, back when it was the The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour and I was interviewed by Judy Woodruff. She asked me, “What’s the big deal?” I said, “Judy, this is simple. This is easy. These guys can go write checks for money they don’t have!” I said, “Judy, it doesn’t matter what they’re paid. Their salaries are irrelevant. They can write bad check after bad check after bad check and their bank covers it!”
There were countless of examples of members of Congress who were $400,000, $500,000 in arrears that the House Bank had just covered — and it was no big deal. It turned out it had been going along a long time. The Democrats ran the House back then. I think Jim Wright was the Speaker of the House. The Republicans were in the midst of 40 years in the wilderness of not having control of the House of Representatives.
It was shortly after the presidential campaign of 1988. Somehow… See, there wasn’t any alternative media. The only media that that story had any chance of appearing in was the mainstream media, because outside of me, there wasn’t any alternative media. There was CNN and the networks and the newspapers and that was it. Back then you had a Republican president-elect, George H. W. Bush, and they were not interested in excusing or accommodating or ignoring people in power.
They were still in their mode back in 1988 of being suspicious of people in power, which they are no longer practicing, particularly if it’s Democrats. They are if it’s Republicans. Back then, the only media this story could have appeared in was the mainstream media and it did, and it got big precisely because it was easy to understand. Guy Vander Jagt was a member of Congress from Michigan.
He appeared after I did on that episode of the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, and I remember him sitting there pointing his finger at the camera. He had no idea who I was. I’d basically been doing this show six months, and he was wagging his finger and he said, “I don’t know who that was, but what he said was exactly right. This is just too easy to understand. You’ve got members of the House who can write themselves checks for any amount they want, any time they want.”
You know what else was happening?
At the House Post Office, a member of Congress could take a check, say, for five grand — a campaign donor check for five grand — over to his account and buy a dollar’s worth of stamps and take the change in cash. When this stuff broke, I mean, it was easily understood and there was an outrage. This was the first step. This was the first step. This scandal was the first thing that happened in the progression of events that resulted in the Republicans winning the House in the 1994 elections, and this is the same thing.
RUSH: My point is that the House Bank scandal was as widespread as this carve-out is. And by the way, this is huge. Obamacare is wildly unpopular. People do not want it. The people that wrote it have just been granted a totally exemption from it on the basis they can’t afford it. We don’t have that option.
Now, the Reuters story said that it was unintended that members of Congress would not be covered. It was totally intended. It was intended by virtue of an amendment put in there by Chuck Grassley, the senator from Iowa. Chuck Grassley attached an amendment to this mandating that members of Congress and their staff would be subject to Obamacare like everybody else. It was totally intended, so that they would have to suffer like everybody else is going to have to suffer in this. And they said, “We can’t afford it,” and Obama fixed it. Obama personally told the Office of Personnel Management, “Look, you’re going to subsidize them,” and their subsidy is going to be anywhere from 5,000 to $11,000, depending on their income. That’s how much they’re going to be helped, up to a maximum of 75%.
Now, here’s the latest on this. This 75% subsidy — and just because it comes from Personnel Management doesn’t mean it doesn’t come from us, because everything in government comes from taxpayers. It’s just that they’re not going to have to go through the exchanges to get this done like you and I are. They’re not going to have to go through exchanges for subsidies. They’re just going to be granted by essentially the department that they work for, Personnel Management. So on top of everything else now, the 75% subsidy isn’t enough. Congress has now asked to be spared the penalties for being old or smoking. I am not kidding you.
Under their old federal health insurance program Congress all paid the same premiums. But thanks to Obamacare, the premiums are going to vary based on age, smoking and place of residence. Older congressmen who smoke and live in a red state will have to pay much higher premiums than others. They’re trying to get that changed, too, so that they don’t pay the insurance premium of smoking or being old. Not kidding. That’s the latest thing they’re asking for. And there’s even more.
Even though congressmen get to keep their 75% taxpayer subsidy for the rest of their lives — it’s not a one-time thing. Every renewal on their insurance will be subsidized 75%, that’s still not good enough. Because of the differences in the premiums due to age and smoking, they want to change the rules so that they can go back to their old federal insurance once they retire. Once they retire they want to be exempted from all of this and they want to go back to what they had before Obamacare. They want to be able to get their old insurance back when they leave Congress, so that they’re not stuck with Obamacare for the rest of their lives like we all are.
Now, I know this because it is being reported in little pockets, but even when Reuters reports it, it’s no big deal, it’s a yawner, it’s a ho-hummer.