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Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R. WV-02) keeps on pushing her stupid plan to stick it to Obamacare:

It's called the "No Obamacare Subsidies for Members of Congress Act of 2013."

The measure would prevent senators and congressional representatives from getting government funds to buy a health insurance policy on the exchange.

Capito said it isn't fair for lawmakers to be treated any differently than the people they represent. - WCHS ABC 8, 9/10/13

Capito has been pushing this plan for a while now:

The proposed legislation is part of Capito's ongoing battle against the federal Affordable Care Act. Capito, along with other House Republicans, has voted 40 times to repeal the ACA, commonly referred to as Obamacare.

The ACA passed in 2009 with an amendment by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, that requires members of Congress and their staffs to purchase health plans through the insurance exchanges created by the law.

Currently, most members of Congress, their staffs and other federal employees receive health plans through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, the largest employer-sponsored health program in the country.

Under the program, as with the vast majority of employer-sponsored health plans, the employer pays the bulk of an employee's premium, while the employee picks up the remainder. Plans vary, but the federal government generally pays about 75 percent of the cost of premiums for federal employees. That level would not change under the ACA.

Last week, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management issued a ruling that members of Congress and their staffs will continue to receive the same premium support from the federal government that they currently get. They will be able to use that support to help purchase insurance on the exchanges but will not be eligible for any tax credits available to people with lower incomes to purchase insurance on the exchanges. - The Charleston Gazette, 8/15/13

Now Capito's plan would only apply to Congressmen and Senators, not their staff.  And her call has gained some momentum:

Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., questions ousted IRS Chief Steve Miller, former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, testify during a hearing at the Senate Finance Committee on the Internal Revenu
Announced Tuesday by Sens. Mike Enzi (R-WY) and David Vitter (R-LA), the bill seeks to partially reverse the Office of Personnel and Management’s recent ruling by forcing members of Congress to pay for the full cost of their health care under Obamacare’s market exchanges when they take effect Jan. 1, 2014.

“If Obamacare is good enough for the American people, it should be good enough for Congress, the President and Vice President, and other policy makers in Washington,” Enzi said.

The bill bars lawmakers and appointed officials from receiving assistance that Americans are entitled to under Obamacare. Most lawmakers and officials would be ineligible for subsidies anyway, which max out at 400 percent of the poverty line, but some of them, who are less highly paid and have big families, would be affected.

Notably, the Enzi-Vitter legislation would not strip subsidies for congressional staff, who are also required to purchase insurance under Obamacare’s exchanges, according to a summary of the bill. Members of Congress fear a “brain drain” if staffers are denied assistance to buy health insurance.

The White House has welcomed legislation to move White House and cabinet officials into the Obamacare exchanges, although it has not said it would support stripping subsidies. “The President has already said that he would go into the Marketplaces,” a White House official told TPM in an email earlier this month, when the OPM ruling was revealed. “White House officials also said they would support legislation that would put Cabinet officials and White House staff on the Marketplaces.” - TPM, 8/28/13

Notice how the other major Republican, Senator Mike Enzi (R. WY), is another GOP incumbent facing a primary challenge but who knows if Liz Cheney will even have what it takes to pull off a surprise victory.  But before I get into that, Here's a little more background info on Capito's plan:

Conceptually, it’s a perfect expression of the modern conservative ethos — an indelible combination of populist pandering and quasi-principled rhinectomy. It turns conservative confusion over Obamacare — confusion Republicans have done as much as anyone to enable — into the basis for a bill that will have the ancillary benefit of testing the sincerity of the GOP’s anti-Obamacare hysteria.

But it’s actually better than that. Right now, members of Congress get their subsidized insurance through the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan. Starting Oct. 1, they’ll begin enrolling in the exchanges, and then in January, whether they carry over their subsidy or not, the switch from FEHBP to ACA will be complete. There’s growing pressure on Republican members to decline the subsidy and perhaps many of them will. Just by existing, the bill will increase that pressure.

But if Capito intends to eliminate the subsidy before anyone claims it, she will come into conflict with the 27th Amendment: “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.”

Strictly speaking, the prohibition can’t take effect until January 2015 (unless, perhaps, it takes the politically awkward step of rerouting the subsidy into a salary increase for all members). Capito’s communications director didn’t respond to an inquiry about the wording of the bill. But depending on how it’s written, it will likely either ask members of Congress to relinquish a benefit many of them will have been enjoying for a full year, or else violate the same Constitution to which anti-Obamacare absolutists claim unique fidelity.

Either way, it will pit Republicans against both Democrats and each other. To take just one example, Capito is running for Senate in West Virginia and is married to a Wells Fargo financial adviser who presumably can add his spouse to his employer-provided insurance. Sponsoring this bill helps her politically without jeopardizing her health or finances. By contrast, her colleague Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., has six children and, in his most recent financial disclosure form, declared that neither he nor his spouse earned more than $200 in income beyond his $174,000 annual salary. This might actually be a really big deal for him.

Still, bills along these lines tend to pass. It’s too politically toxic for members to vote in their own financial interests, even in a case like this where they’d simply be voting to maintain their current compensation. Opponents won’t construe it that way. They’d construe it as a vote to protect a special Obamacare kickback. The attack ads write themselves. So do the talking points for the bill. - Salon, 8/28/13

But lets get real here, Capito's plan is really to make herself look good to the far-right base of her party who are very doubtful of her conservative bonafides:

“Shelley Moore Capito: Too Liberal for West Virginia” was launched this week.
The group’s Facebook page reads “Pro-abortion, pro-bailout and pro-debt: Shelley Moore Capito is just too liberal for WV.” More than 100 people had “liked” the page as of Friday.

Moore Capito is running for the seat of Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who’s retiring next year. She’s been elected to the House for seven terms.

In July, the National Republican Liberty Caucus, which has endorsed Tea Party candidates in the past, endorsed another Republican challenger in the race. It backed Pat McGeehan over Moore Capito. - The Hill, 9/6/13

Capito is also on the Club for Growth's shit list as well.  I can't blame fiscal conservatives for not loving Capito:

House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., appears before the House Rules Committee to testify on his party’s budget proposal, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, March 18, 2013. Ryan and fellow House Republicans put forward their 2014 budg
While the Ryan budget endorses the use of block grants to radically transform Medicaid, the House transportation and housing bill would have cut Community Development Block Grants, or CDBGs, to the lowest level ever in the program’s 38-year history. This kind of cut is completely unprecedented; the Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee actually recommended a funding increase for CDBGs just one year ago. The difference now is that the harsher austerity in this year’s Ryan budget makes cuts such as this one a mathematical necessity.

Community Development Block Grants empower state and local officials to invest in infrastructure, affordable housing, job creation, and social services in ways that best meet their local needs. In California’s Sonoma County, for example, CDBG funds were combined with other sources to build Lavell Village, an affordable community for 49 low-income families. Fort Bend County in Texas used CDBGs to construct a water and sewer system. Volusia County, Florida, used CDBG funding to build a community center serving 1,500 low-income residents.

Recognizing how important CDBGs are to communities across the country, the House of Representatives actually reversed a small portion of this cut. A floor amendment from Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) raised CDBG funding by $350 million, from $1.637 billion to $1.987 billion. This increase, however, would still be a 33 percent cut relative to FY 2013—to a program Rep. Capito called “vital” and “essential.”

But Rep. Capito’s amendment had to make cuts elsewhere in the bill in order to conform to the Ryan budget’s overall spending limits. The amendment made deep cuts to Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, administrative expenses, jeopardizing HUD’s ability to carry out its mission effectively without waste, fraud, and abuse. The amendment also cut another major block grant for affordable housing, which had already been cut to historic levels. Rep. Capito conceded that, “It was very difficult to find an offset for this,” but choices similar to these would be the new normal under the Ryan budget.

Even after restoring some of the cuts to the CDBG program, the House cut would still cost our country 30,000 jobs relative to the Senate bill. This cut would also add to our nation’s growing backlog in both infrastructure and affordable housing and shift more costs onto cash-strapped states and localities. - Center For American Progress, 9/10/13

Now West Virginia is a socially conservative state but it's not a fiscally conservative one.  Democrats still control the Governorship and the state legislature.  So who knows if McGeehan will get lucky but it's clear Capito isn't taking any chances.  And while one Democrat after the next has been passing on this race to succeed retiring Senator Jay Rockefeller (D. WV), there is still one Democrat I have my fingers crossed that she will make her decision soon:

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito's run for U.S. Senate could be a tight one if Secretary of State Natalie Tennant were to enter the race, according to the latest edition of the West Virginia Poll.

The phone survey, conducted earlier this month, found 45 percent of respondents said they would pick Capito, R-W.Va., to replace retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller.

Forty percent said they would choose Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, a Democrat. Fifteen percent weren't sure.

Tennant has not announced her candidacy for Senate, but rumors have swirled for months that she will run.

The West Virginia Poll is a non-partisan study conducted for the Daily Mail by R.L. Repass and Partners. This most recent edition was conducted Aug. 15-22, sampling 400 voting-age West Virginia residents. It has a 4.9 percent margin of error.

While results show Capito has a 5-point lead over Tennant, the margin of error makes the race a dead heat. - Charleston Daily Mail, 8/30/13

Hopefully Tennant will be making her decision very soon.

Originally posted to pdc on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 05:10 PM PDT.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)

    Funny Stuff at

    by poopdogcomedy on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 05:10:04 PM PDT

  •  Shelley Moore Capito Is Really Sick (0+ / 0-)

    She is the one in charge of and instigated the cover up of the US House intern scandal where Rep. Mark Foley was sexually harassing 16 and 17 year old House Interns to the point that he had to resign or was kicked out of his position as legislator.

    "I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.” - Arnold Schwarzenegger 2003

    by kerplunk on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 05:38:25 PM PDT

  •  West Virginia has better people than either of the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    prfb, Hillbilly Dem

    Republican clowns running for the Senate nomination. And WV deserves better representation than this.

  •  I joined a Tennant for Senate Facebook group.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hillbilly Dem

    and Natalie has a lot of support.  She is articulate and very pro- entrepreneurship, which WV needs.  I hope she runs!!!

    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

    by murrayewv on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 06:38:27 PM PDT

  •  I would bet some good money... (0+ / 0-)

    Even though I know zero about her personal bio, I would bet some good money that Shelly Moore Capito doesn't' care herself about getting the Congressional medical insurance benefit because either:

    a) she already gets insurance through her husband and therefore doesn't need it; or

    b) she's so filthy rich that she won't feel the pay cut of losing the insurance benefit that is part of the pay package for Congresspeople.

    Conservatives love the idea of cutting Congressional pay and benefits, since that will mean that only the independently wealthy will be able to afford careers in Congress.  

  •  Go after Shelly Moore Capito's WV-02 seat! (0+ / 0-)

    Put it in Democratic territory damn it.  I don't care what it takes!

    •  What it would take is SOME damn support (0+ / 0-)

      from the national Democratic party!

      Ever since they expelled Howard Dean for his successes, the neolibs and former DLC types that who run the national party/begging machine have totally written my state off as too red and too small and too unimportant to bother with.

      I believe that Natalie Tennant could win -- particularly if the Teabaggers have a big food fight with the Country Club/Coal Boss reactionaries who are Capto's base -- but only if some money/energy is put into the effort.

      Liberals here are fierce... but broke.

  •  This is a good, informed piece. Thanks. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    FWIW, on the ground here, Shelley has been working very hard lately to raise her visibility and presumably preempt any 'bagger defections.

    Just this summer she's popped up two or three time on various pretexts in our small town of Elkins.

    That would be equivalent to a California senatorial prospect repeatedly campaigning (a year ahead of time) in Burbank.

  •  She's not alone with the daftery. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Andy Harris also thinks either all businesses can subsidize along with Congress, or none. I do agree that Congress should be required to stop exempting itself, but fiddling around the margins with crap like this is not the way to go.

    Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

    by dadadata on Wed Sep 11, 2013 at 04:28:41 AM PDT

  •  She is absolutely right - sort of (0+ / 0-)

    Rep. Capito "...said it isn't fair for lawmakers to be treated any differently than the people they represent..."

    All of you who will be 'working' for 9 days (4 of which are half days) in September and drawing a full paycheck, please raise your hand.  

    By a show of hands, I see that the majority of the people will be working far more days in September than our congressional representatives.   I invite Rep. Capito to correct this inequity as soon as possible!  After all, it's not like they don't have an overflowing basket of bills to pass.

    In God we trust, All others we monitor -AFTAC (-2.75, -2.67)

    by lcs on Wed Sep 11, 2013 at 07:51:14 AM PDT

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