‘Noblesse Oblige’ for an Indiana Senator?

September 24, 2013

For the use of the membership only (325 words)

The polls agree that the Affordable Care Act, which took effect Oct. 1, is unpopular. More unpopular in Indiana, though, is that officialdom is perfectly comfortable exempting itself from the full cost of the law.

A member of the foundation relates a conversation witnessed at a recent public meeting in Aboite Township involving one of Indiana’s U.S. senators. A woman in the audience asked the senator (it is not important to the point here, alas, whether it was the Democrat or the Republican) why he and his staff should be exempt from ObamaCare at the same time his constituents face increasing insurance premiums, a reduction in the quality of healthcare, or both.

The senator’s response, which struck our member as focus-group boilerplate, was that he was not exempt, that he faced the same hard choices as other Americans. And besides, he might have added, the president made him do it.

This politically awkward moment was defused, but, oops, the senator had left something out.

Bill Bennett, a former Reagan cabinet member who wrote this week in the Wall Street Journal, wrestles to the ground such sidestepping and obfuscation. It may be narrowly true that the senator and his staff will abide by the new law, but, unlike a hapless constituency, they will be reimbursed by their employer (that same constituency).

“Imagine the horror when these elected officials, who make $174,000 a year, realized that not only must they and their staffers be subject to inferior-quality health exchanges like the millions of ordinary Americans, but they might also have to shell out thousands of dollars for increased premiums if they exceed the subsidy income cutoff,” Bennett writes. “The White House, under heat from Congress, directed the Office of Personnel Management to carve out special rules so that the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program can continue to contribute to the health plans used by Congress and congressional staff.”

In Colonial America, men were flogged for less.


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