President Barack Obama told his fellow Democrats in Congress last week that “you’re on the right side of history” with respect to his policy ideas.
So why aren’t congressional Democrats standing on Obama’s “side” as it pertains to Obamacare?
The “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (euphemistically referred to as “Obamacare”) health care reform law is being phased-in around the country, with approximately half of the states in the union setting-up insurance exchanges in compliance with the law and the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) gearing up to enforce the law. Yet a growing cadre of individuals and organizations that have supported the President and the formation of the Obamacare agenda are now proactively seeking to not participate in it.
As the Obamacare legislation was making its way through Congress back in 2009, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) inserted an amendment requiring members of Congress and their staffs to enroll in the Obamacare insurance exchanges. Grassley’s rationale was simple (and today would probably qualify as a “wackobird” idea by John McCain standards); if congressional members were going to impose the insurance exchanges on the American people, they should have to experience that imposition first hand.
That was nearly four years ago. During this calendar year, alone, groups and individuals in both the public and private sector who have either been supportive of the Obamacare law or are involved with its implementation have sought both changes to, and exemptions from, the law.
Since the first quarter of 2013, both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have sought exemptions from the Obamacare insurance mandates for both themselves and their staffs. In May the head of the United Union of Roofers (roofing installers) called for a full repeal of the Obamacare law claiming that the “individual mandate” to buy certain types of health insurance threatened its’ members existing insurance benefits.
In July AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka demanded that President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) change the law, noting that it would not only threaten union member insurance benefits, but would also “destroy the foundation of the forty-hour work week. After last Friday’s new “jobs report,” it’s difficult to say Trumka was wrong – in fact 77% of all new jobs created in this calendar year have been part-time, less-than-forty-hours-a-week jobs.
In the same month as Trumka’s forecast, IRS Acting Commissioner Daniel Wefel as well as members of the National Treasury Employees Union (the labor union representing IRS workers) all asked to be exempt from having to purchase health insurance plans different from the ones they already receive.
Last Thursday President Obama reportedly held a private meeting with Democrats from the U.S. Senate to discuss, among other things, another effort to exempt congressional staffers from Obamacare mandates. “I’m on it” was the President’s response to the Senators, according to a report from Politico.Com. The next day the Senate Democrats’ wish had been fulfilled by executive authority.
Obamacare -it is the “right side of history.” Yes, of course, Mr. President. It is so good that your closest and most ardent supporters want nothing to do with it.
In fact, President Obama’s policies are so good that he chose as the geographical backdrop in which to announce his latest economic agenda a state that bares little or no resemblance to the world he is trying to create: Tennessee.
President Obama’s economic vision entails high taxes, lots of government regulation, loads of government employees, and unionized workers. States like California, Illinois, and Michigan come to mind as places where Obamanomics prevail.
By contrast, Tennessee has one of the lowest personal income tax rates in the nation, is ranked #13 in the nation for business friendliness, and strictly forbids compulsory labor union membership (by legal definition it is a “right to work” state). As he spoke from his podium at Amazon.com’s fulfillment center in Chattanooga last Tuesday, the smiling faces standing behind him – assuming they are employed - were presumably non-union workers.
Oh, such contradictions. The people closest to the President want nothing to do with his policies, but those in a far away land glibly stand at attention and cheer him on.