Our Best Chance To Repeal Obamacare

Jenny Beth Martin Jenny Beth Martin is co-founder and national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, the nation’s largest tea party organization, and is also chairman of the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund.
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It has been more than five years since then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi famously quipped: “We have to pass [Obamacare] to find out what’s in it.” Indeed. Since the bill became law in 2010, Americans have found out the hard way what is included in Obamacare, which Congress never bothered to read before rushing to vote on it.

Millions of Americans have lost their insurance because of Obamacare, and tens of millions have seen their premiums rise – perverse consequences of a bill the Democrats promised would provide universal, affordable health care coverage.

While Americans struggle to comply with Obamacare’s onerous rules and regulations, Congress enjoys a special exemption from the law. Isn’t that something? The men and women in Washington, DC who wrote the law are not living under it. A little-known fact is that Members of Congress and their staffers are required to purchase health insurance through an exchange created under Obamacare. Section 1312 (D) of the law specifies that requirement.

Now here’s where it gets tricky. In Washington, DC there are two Obamacare exchanges: the individual exchange and the small business exchange. The individual exchange prohibits an employer subsidy. The small business exchange has no such prohibition. Members of Congress and their staffers, wanting to protect their subsidies ($5,000 a year for individuals and $11,000 for staffers enrolled in a family plan), enrolled in the small business exchange.

Did you catch that? Congress has nearly 20,000 employees, yet it is enrolled in the small business exchange. Obamacare defines a small business as one with 50 or fewer employees. Not to be deterred, the Congressional staffers simply lied on the application form and declared the House and Senate each had 45 employees.

It is unseemly in a society that cherishes the rule of law that our lawmakers flout the law, lie on their official government applications, and dodge the consequences of a law they wrote, passed, and now force us to live under.

Senator David Vitter of Louisiana and Congressman Ron DeSantis of Florida have introduced identical bills that would force Congress to live under Obamacare. Aptly named the “No Exemption for Washington from Obamacare Act,” the bills would require Congress to give up its taxpayer-funded subsidies and live under the law the way the rest of Americans must.

On Wednesday, Tea Party Patriots volunteers and grassroots activists are hosting hundreds of rallies around the country at local congressional offices to protest this special exemption. Our objective here is two-fold: to draw attention to this illegal and unfair Congressional exemption, and also to encourage Members of Congress to support the Vitter/DeSantis bills.

A majority of Americans still want Obamacare repealed. It has been our experience that the more people are exposed to the law, the more they dislike it. From the disastrous exchange websites, to the complicated tax forms, Obamacare simply isn’t working for millions of Americans.

We at Tea Party Patriots want Congress to live under the law – not only because of the moral imperative that Congress must live under the laws it writes – but also for the practical purpose of ensuring that Congress has first-hand experience with negative consequences of Obamacare. We fully expect that when Congress lives with the day-to-day realities of life under Obamacare, there will be greater urgency in Washington to repeal the law.