For congressional Republicans, government healthcare is a pre-existing condition

Sen. Charles Schumer is amused. Schumer, a Democrat from New York, is pressing congressional Republicans who oppose the Affordable Care Act and are seeking to repeal it — and its historic achievement of providing access to quality healthcare to 32 million previously non-covered Americans — to forgo their government-sponsored healthcare. To keep their own “Cadillac” healthcare plans while working to strip working-class Americans of theirs is hypocritical, the senator says.

The challenge for Republicans is that, despite their rhetoric, they really like their government healthcare. Failed Senate candidate Sharron Angle spent millions of dollars attacking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for his support for the Affordable Care Act during her campaign, only to have revealed that her own healthcare is provided by the government. Maryland’s new GOP representative, Andy Harris, lamented publicly that his new government-provided healthcare plan, the congressional plan, didn’t start the day he arrived in Washington for orientation — two months before being sworn in to office.

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Schumer’s tactic is gaining traction. One GOP freshman has refused his government healthcare plan, pledging to “struggle” to find coverage in the individual market. Schumer drew a spastic rebuke from a spokesman for Incoming Speaker John Boehner, who attacked the Affordable Care Act because it is “destroying jobs” and will “bankrupt our country.” The spokesman insisted that Congress is getting the same type of “employer-sponsored health care coverage from private-sector companies as tens of millions of Americans. That has nothing to do with the Democrats' health care law.”

But wait, doesn’t it? The Affordable Care Act provided middle-class Americans with access to the same type of healthcare coverage as Congress, right? So, repealing it takes that access away for average Americans and keeps it for Boehner and other opponents of the law.

Schumer’s actions drew an even sillier response from Rep. Eric Cantor’s office. Cantor’s spokesman called the Affordable Care Act the “Obamacare disaster” and tried to muddy the water by challenging Schumer and congressional Democrats to “pay higher taxes for the next two years” because they opposed tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 a year.

But see, here’s the rub. Congressional Democrats opposed the Bush tax increases and supported the Obama tax cuts for all Americans but opposed the bonus tax cut for the wealthiest 1.6 percent of Americans.  Since congressional salaries for members of Congress fall well below the $250,000 threshold, and the $1,000,000 threshold Schumer proposed, they are completely consistent with their proposals.

Boehner and Cantor need to come up with better answers for why they should have access to healthcare and 32 million Americans should not. For congressional Republicans, government-sponsored healthcare is a pre-existing condition they are unwilling to sacrifice.



David Di Martino is CEO of Blue Line Strategic Communications Inc. The views expressed in this blog are his and do not necessarily represent Blue Line’s. Follow David: @bluelinedd