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Commentary


Congress’ Animal Farm Moment

May 20, 2013
By Nan Swift

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Animal Farm - George Orwell

In Orwell’s dystopian novel, a group of pigs take over the farm and promise equality for all the barnyard animals. When the leaders start wanting to live by a different set of rules from everyone else, they justify their actions with the above quote.

Congress is apparently having its own Animal Farm moment.

After forcing Obamacare through Congress before anybody had the chance to read, or even understand, the entirety of the bill, some policymakers are now trying to rewrite the rules to exempt themselves.

Late last week, reports surfaced that Members of Congress and the White House were having discussions about removing the requirement that they and their staffs be forced to join the insurance exchanges. Those would be the same insurance exchanges Obamacare requires every other American to join.  Why?  Because it would impose higher costs for them; much the same as it would for the millions of Americans they were elected to represent.

Some people are, apparently in Congress’ wisdom, more equal than others.

“We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,” then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi famously said of the nearly-2,000 page bill in 2010. Well, apparently now that many in Congress know what they voted for, they’re not all that happy about it. And for good reason. There is plenty not to like.

First, of course, is the fact Obamacare requires individuals to purchase health insurance, under penalty of a fine – or tax, depending on who supporters are talking to – voters or the Supreme Court respectively. You might remember the Obama administration first tried to claim the bill’s enforcement mechanism wasn’t a tax, but a fine. Of course, then they did an about face before the Supreme Court and claimed Obamacare was Constitutional because Congress had taxing authority.

While the country deals with massive budget deficits and runaway debt levels, taxpayers are saddled with Obamacare, a program the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office predicts will cost more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years.

President Obama promised the American people this massive spending would keep health insurance costs low for ordinary people, but that is simply not happening. According to the 2012 Kaiser Family Foundation/HRET Employer Health Benefits Survey, average premiums for family health coverage increased by nearly $2,000 between 2010 and 2012. These increases either affect the out of pocket costs to employees or reduce the amount of money available for to hire new workers or expand their operations.

And the outlook doesn’t get rosier. Just last month, The Society of Actuaries said it expected health insurance premiums to increase by 32 percent. While it’s ironic a bill with the word “affordable” in its name increases costs by a third, no one will find it too amusing when it comes time to cut the check; especially those know seeing employers either decrease their hours and discontinue offering health insurance altogether.

It’s not surprising, then, that these skyrocketing costs from Obamacare will negative effect on the job market. Congressional Budget Office analysis shows that 7 million people will lose health insurance through their employer by 2022 because of the new health law. And an NFIB Research Foundation study released this year predicts Obamacare will cost the private sector as many as 262,000 private-sector jobs by 2022. Accordingly, when Congress seeks to exempt itself from paying higher costs associated with this complex, costly and mammoth spending program, average Americans quickly expressed their outrage.

Of course, the best outcome would be Congress to take a serious look at viable health care reforms that would actually increase efficiency, lower costs and improve our citizens quality of life (both human and economic). Short of that, it’s not unreasonable to expect everyone – members of Congress and their aides included – play by the same rules.

Supporters of Obamacare have been proven wrong and disingenuous – sometimes both at the same time – since Obamacare was first introduced. Exempting themselves from a bill they claimed the American people needed would be an act of hypocrisy that would be extreme by any measure of the imagination.