As expected, the Senate Democrats rejected the compromise on Tuesday.
Last Night, Senate Democrats Voted Along Party Lines To Shut Down The Government Rather Than Agree To Delay Obamacare’s Individual Mandate And Surrender Their Special Insurance Subsidies. “In an extraordinary back-and-forth between the House and Senate that extended late into the night, Democrats beat back attempt after attempt to gut President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. After Senate Democrats rejected the House’s year-long delay of Obamacare and a repeal of the medical device tax on Monday afternoon, Democrats returned to the floor after 9 p.m. to kill another House GOP proposal. The second measure would have kept the government open in exchange for delaying the health care law’s individual mandate and eliminating federal health care contributions for lawmakers and Capitol Hill aides. (Burgess Everett and Manu Raju, “Government Shutdown Update: Senate Rejects House Plan – Again,” Politico, 9/30/13)
According To The Congressional Budget Office, Delaying The Individual Mandate By One Year Would Reduce The Federal Budget Deficit By $35 Billion. “CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimate that enacting H.R. 2668 would reduce federal deficits by roughly $36 billion over the 2014-2018 period and by roughly $35 billion over the 2014-2023 period.” (Cost Estimate Of H.R. 2668: An Act To Delay The Application Of The Individual Health Insurance Mandate, To Delay The Application Of The Employer Health Insurance Mandate, And For Other Purposes, Congressional Budget Office, 9/6/13)
A July Poll Found That 77 Percent Of Registered Voters Support Delaying The Individual Mandate Or Repealing It Entirely. (Morning Consult Poll, 2,076 RV, MOE 2%, 7/24-26/13)
Member of Congress And Their Staff Are Required To Enroll In ObamaCare’s Exchanges. “Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, then succeeded in adding a measure to Obama’s health care bill three years ago requiring members of Congress and employees in their offices to leave the Federal Employee Health Benefits program and start buying their insurance through the state exchanges that open Tuesday under the Obamacare law.” (Laurie Kellman, “GOP demanded lawmakers pay more for health care,” The Associated Press, 10/1/13)
But OPM Granted Congress The Ability To Provide Subsidies, Which Are Not Available For Other Americans, To Help Purchase Insurance Though The Exchanges. “But the statute means that about 11,000 Members and Congressional staff will lose the generous coverage they now have as part of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). Instead they will get the lower-quality, low-choice “Medicaid Plus” of the exchanges. The Members-annual salary: $174,000-and their better paid aides also wouldn’t qualify for ObamaCare subsidies. That means they could be exposed to thousands of dollars a year in out-of-pocket insurance costs…And now the White House is suspending the law to create a double standard. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that runs federal benefits will release regulatory details this week, but leaks to the press suggest that Congress will receive extra payments based on the FEHBP defined-contribution formula, which covers about 75% of the cost of the average insurance plan. For 2013, that’s about $4,900 for individuals and $10,000 for families.” (Editorial, “Congress’s ObamaCare Exemption,” The Wall Street Journal, 8/5/13)
I listened to a recent episode of the Weekly Standard podcast, and guest Bill Kristol was advising the GOP to make exactly this proposal, saying that it was a strong move by the Republicans. I agree. We now have vulnerable Democrats going on record in favor of special perks for themselves and their staff, as well as the hated individual mandate. As soon as people see the sticker shock of being forced to buy insurance, or pay a fine, we are going to have a valuable tool in the 2014 elections. The left-wing media isn’t going to be able to protect the Democrats from their own votes.
UPDATE: The Weekly Standard approves of what the GOP is doing.