Freshman faults GOP collusion, says ObamaCare sets up 'ruling class'

Freshman Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) on Wednesday accused GOP leaders of "colluding" with Democrats on a plan to exempt congressional staffers from higher insurance costs under ObamaCare. 

DeSantis said the GOP should be fighting this exception, which he said makes Congress and their staff a sort of "ruling class."

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"[W]e… have leaders in the Republican Party, some of the establishment folks who have kind of agreed, 'Hey, we're not going to touch this issue. We're just going to kind of let it go,'" DeSantis said on the Rusty Humphries radio show Wednesday.

"So they're colluding with the Democrats on that. I think that's a huge mistake."

"As a member of Congress and the staffs, we're supposed to be part of servant class," he said. "We serve the American people. We represent them, instead of a ruling class with different sets of rules."

The Obama administration released a proposed rule Wednesday that said the federal government could continue subsidizing the health coverage of about 11,000 congressional staffers, even after those workers access health insurance from new health insurance exchanges.

ObamaCare requires congressional staffers to buy insurance from the exchanges starting next year. But as the exchanges are designed to offer coverage to individuals who do not receive it through their work, the law does not provide a clear way for employers like the federal government to make a traditional premium contribution to workers' healthcare.

The possibility of ending subsidies led some to worry that many staffers would leave Capitol Hill for other jobs. Under the current system, the federal government contributes 75 percent of premiums for congressional staffers.

Some Republicans and conservative groups blasted the proposed rule as an exemption that eases the pain of ObamaCare on federal workers when the law was meant to ensure congressional workers live under the same healthcare rules as others. 

DeSantis also blamed Washington reporters for failing to give the issue the coverage it deserves.

"They don't want to highlight this because they're as much a part of the ruling class as some of the party leaders," he said of the press.

Last week, DeSantis proposed an amendment to the Constitution that would prohibit Congress from passing laws that don't also apply to Congress. He said the Obama administration's proposed rule on health subsidies for congressional staff shows his amendment is needed.

"We introduced this last Thursday, and we knew that there had been this discussion about getting Congress an out from ObamaCare," he said.

"We weren't sure when … any shoe was going to fall. And lo and behold, that same night, about 10 hours after we filed the amendment, we get news that the president and Nancy Pelosi [D-Calif.] have struck a deal where the president is essentially going to give members of Congress and their staffs a special ObamaCare deal — they'll be relieved from the higher costs that other Americans will be facing."

Pelosi is the top Democrat in the House.