I saw today that one of my Facebook friends had linked to poll that asked:
The staffers who wrote Obamacare slipped in a hidden gem: They exempted themselves, Obama, and his staff from the new regulations. Should this exemption be repealed?
1:Yes: If they wrote the bill, it should apply to them too
2:No: They work hard and deserve a special exemption
This was news to me, so I googled to find an opinion piece from Ben Domenech posted yesterday at CBS News.com.
In it Domenech (who resigned from the Washington Post under allegations of plagiarism) asserts that the language of the health care law, which requires that "members of Congress and congressional staff" participate in the health-care exchanges, exempts President Obama and the staffers who wrote the law from "Obamacare." He says that Republican Senator Charles Grassley tried to submit an amendment to extend the requirement to the President last year. And of course he emphasizes that Grassley's attempt to fix it was "rebuffed."
So I spent about five minutes doing a few more searches and came across similar stories at Politico and Fox News and it was all over the right-wing blog. I saw that Hannity was beating this story today, too.
Media Matters was also on the case. They dismiss the claim, correctly pointing out that the section Domenech cited provided a more strenuous mandate on Congress than it does on the American people. Only Congress and it's staffers are required to purchase their health-care from the exchanges. The exchanges are not a requirement for American's, they are an option.
But what's remarkable is that according to Media Matters at the link above, the section Domenech quoted was introduced by Republicans. Specifically, it was written and introduced by none other than Senator Charles Grassley last September and accepted by the Democrats.
So another couple tries with the google and I find a triumphant statement on Grassley's web site dated September 30, 2009, where he crows that he:
won approval for his legislation to require that members of Congress and congressional staff access health insurance through the exchange that would be created by the health care reform legislation under consideration by the Finance Committee.
Senator Grassley also congratulates himself in the Des Moines Register the same day. In November he highlights that Time's Joel Kline lists Grassley's amendment requiring Congress to participate in the exchanges as "his favorite part" of the bill.
So then in December, two days before the Senate votes on the bill Charles Grassley starts griping that the President isn't required to purchase his insurance, too, from the exchanges. And surprise, he's "rebuffed". The only thing that's surprising is that anyone finds his being rebuffed at all remarkable.
He could have inserted that or even talked about that until just before the vote. After a year of trying to delay passage of the bill, Grassley himself being instrumental to that effort, this was a blatant attempt to obstruct.
Which he tried to do yet again yesterday, when he reintroduced the amendment.
So here's how this whole thing looks to me now: Grassley authors the original amendment that required Congress and its staffers to buy on the exchange. After it was accepted by unanimous consent, he basks in his accomplishment and actively takes credit for it. Not until months later, when he knows he'll be turned down, he starts wanting to amend his amendment. Then within days after the bill passes, Republican demagogues start suggesting that "Obamacare" authors exempted themselves. I suppose it's possible to be more dishonest than that, but it can't be easy.
And I guess this really shouldn't be surprising in the least, it is in the same vein as opposing a bill and taking credit for it, as Grassley has started to do already with health care, and as many Republicans have done with the stimulus.
Just yesterday, CBS News published a story about how Republican amendments were meant to "box-in" Democrats and make them vote against amendments on issues that the Republicans would then try to exploit for political gain.
And Republicans claim they're ready to govern again.