The Widdershins


Posted on: October 2, 2013

demons of stupdityOkay this is a little bit dated now, but does come into play with the government shutdown over Obamacare.

David Vitter, the junior Senator from La, got his diaper twisted into a wad because the Office of Personnel Management decided that congress critters and their staff could receive a subsidy from the government when the folks went onto the exchanges to purchase health care insurance.  Before Obamacare went into effect, the critters, along with their staffs purchased their insurance through the Federal Employees Benefit program.  It’s the same program that federal employees use to obtain their health insurance, or not, as they choose.  Like most any large employer, the federal government contributed a portion of the costs of the premiums for the employees, whether it was the most powerful of Senators, the Prez, the Veep or a lowly file clerk at a federal office in Butte Montana.

When Obamacare was being created, the critters decided that if it was going to be foisted on “the American People”, then it should be good enough for each and every critter, the Prez and Veep and every congressional staffer and they too should have to get their health insurance there.  The one glaring problem with this reasoning is that Obamacare was designed and created mainly for small businesses and individuals, not one of the largest employers in the country.  So then the next thing that occurred was that the critters and staff got worried and wondered if they would have to foot the entire bill for their health care because a lot of them were not going to be getting subsidies for premiums based on their income.  Well, call it a miracle, or what have you, but OPM decided that yes, the critters and staff could and would be entitled to a subsidy from their employer, the Federal government, for their healthcare purchases on the exchange.

The problem was rooted in the original text of the Affordable Care Act. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) inserted a provision which said members of Congress and their aides must be covered by plans “created” by the law or “offered through an exchange.” Until now, OPM had not said if the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program could contribute premium payments toward plans on the exchange. If payments stopped, lawmakers and aides would have faced thousands of dollars in additional premium payments each year. Under the old system, the government contributed nearly 75 percent of premium payments.

There was a certain sense of urgency, too, since enrollment in the exchanges was set to begin Oct. 1. There were discussions of a legislative fix — attaching language to a must-pass bill to fix the problem. But that would’ve been too difficult in today’s paralyzed Washington.

White House officials acknowledged that a fix was needed. But they knew that once they dealt with it through a regulation, some Republicans would use it against them – even though most of their party was privately obsessing over it.

At this point, enter David Vitter.  The good (bleh!) junior Senator decided he wanted to attach an amendment to an energy bill working its way through the Senate that would strip out the “subsidies” (I call them employer contributions) to the plans the Hill folk have to buy on the exchanges.

Vitter this week has blocked votes on amendments to a pending bipartisan energy efficiency bill until he gets a promise of a vote on his legislation requiring members, and their staffs to buy health insurance through exchanges being created under the Affordable Care Act. Under Vitter’s proposal, those purchases would come without the usual $5,000 to $11,000 government subsidy for federal health insurance. It would invalidate an Obama administration directive that members and staffs should, with some exceptions, purchase coverage from the exchanges, but with continued federal subsidies.

“Vitter said that his amendment would require members and their staffs, as well as the president, vice president and political appointees, to deal with the same arrangements being faced by many Americans under ObamaCare.”  I call bullshit on his words.  First of all, the ACA was designed with small businesses and individuals in mind.  That is not “many Americans” Dave.  Secondly, while there are 535 voting members of Congress, there are literally thousands of staffers and other employees on the Hill who are not earning $174,00 a year or more.  Those folks need the subsidies so that their health care costs do not jump astronomically on the exchanges.  While these folks aren’t making six figures, they probably do make enough that they would not qualify for subsidies based on income.

Now it’s not that often that I agree with Harry Reid but I do agree with him when he said:

“If Sen. Vitter opposes the employer contribution to congressional staffers, does he oppose it also for the 150 million other Americans whose employers help pay their health insurance premiums?” Reid asked.

Rather than exempting Capitol Hill, Reid said the subsidies treat lawmakers and their staff like the rest of U.S. citizens that have a portion of their premiums paid for by their employers.

Sadly, diaper Dave isn’t alone in this.  GOP Sens. Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Dean Heller of Nevada, Mike Lee of Utah and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma are co-sponsors of Vitter’s amendment.

As I wrote above, I call bullshit on Vitter.  It’s not known widely outside of Louisiana, but it’s been strongly rumored that Vitter intends to run for governor in 2015 when Bobby Jindal’s second term is over. (YAY!!  No mo’ lil Bobby!)  And it makes sense that he would decide to run for guv.  Despite his surviving the prostitute scandal, he won’t ever rise very far in the Senate Republican leadership.  Before the energy efficienty bill got shelved due to the government shutdown, the Dems in the Senate were getting ready to possibly play nasty with Dave over…let’s call it hooker-gate.

But Democratic senators are preparing a legislative response targeting a sordid Vitter episode. If Vitter continues to insist on a vote on his proposal, Democrats could counter with one of their own: Lawmakers will be denied those government contributions if there is “probable cause” they solicited prostitutes.

According to draft legislation obtained by POLITICO, Democrats are weighing whether to force a Senate vote on a plan that would effectively resurrect Vitter’s past if the conservative Republican continues to press forward with his Obamacare-bashing proposal.

Naturally the tit for tat got pushed aside when the budget mess came to the fore, and the bill was shelved.  Sadly for Vitter and happily for us, as long as he’s in public service, images like this aren’t going away.

This is an open thread.



I remain amazed that these guys represent “the party of family values”.

Yes, nothing says “traditional marriage” like diapers and hookers!

I can’t wait for the Democrats to start playing hardball with these GOP jackasses. Please G-d, let it happen soon.

Agree with both of y’all. And why does he have this thing now about the “employer contribution” part for the staffers? If he and the other repub co-sponsors of his bill are so against them I’m more than certain that it can be arranged so they pay the full premiums. One of the Politico articles said repub staffers were running to their Dem counterparts begging them to have their bosses *not* let that amendment be added.

If I can find that press conference on youtube with Dave and Wendy I’ll add it in on a comment.

Dave’s supporters in La said it was okay, they forgave him and also if his wife forgave him it was okay with them. Of course they never gave Clinton that same courtesy. 🙄

Yes, nothing says “traditional marriage” like diapers and hookers!

The family that sins together, wins together?

@3: It’s impossible to make sense out of crazy.

A “Designing Women” interlude: The good kind of crazy

Oh i dearly loved Bernice. Had a friend in college who was extremely forgetful and he kidded about early senility so we just started calling him Bernice. 😆

Beata@7: and naturally that brings up this episode:

Yep, ole Wendy looks real forgiving here.

@9: That’s a classic.

I know I would feel so at home in the South. I was offered a library job in Mississippi once. I should have taken it even though it paid next to nothing. Loved the people at the library there. My kind of crazy.

Beata@11: Bet you would have enjoyed yourself with that job.

I wonder if Vitters had to check the box on his Obamacare application about diagnoses of STDs. Or maybe diaper rash? Or maybe peculiar interspecies maladies?

What a piece of work!

Just shaking my head. What a twisted bunch. Why do these guys have the jobs they have?

At McDonald’s
Applicant: I hate hamburgers and I feel compelled to mention that at least once an hour to anyone who will listen
McDonald’s HR: Thank you for applying. We’ll call you if you’re selected.

At Facebook
Applicant: I really hate the Internet and computers and cats. I share that in my status every 15 minutes.
Facebook HR: Thank you for applying. We’ll call you if you’re selected.

In America
Applicant: I hate government and want it so small I can flush it down Grover Norquist’s toilet.
Republican voters: You’re our guy! Welcome Congressman!

@Prolix: As you probably know, there are a lot of folks that work on the Hill who are not pulling down great pay. This stunt was just such a slap in the face to them, and for Vitter along with Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Dean Heller of Nevada, Mike Lee of Utah and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, if they decide to go to the House barbershop for a quick shave, they better hope those barbers aren’t too angry as I’m willing to bet they are fed employees who would get the employer contributions.

SophieCT said: Applicant: I hate government and want it so small I can flush it down Grover Norquist’s toilet.
Republican voters: You’re our guy! Welcome Congressman!

And those are the ones I want to personally have something affect them with this shutdown and then be able to see and hear the ranting and carrying on with them. *Them* I want to feel the shutdown effects. 👿

One of the early casualties of the shutdown, WIC.

I’m sure most of y’all have seen this but if you haven’t, it is priceless.

@18: I’d heard about that person-on-the-street segment but hadn’t seen it until now. Priceless but also painful to realize people are so ill-informed. I bet more of them know Kim Kardashian’s baby’s name.

Beata@19: and the folks are so forceful and knowledgeable about their responses too, totally believing what they say! 😯

Scary, isn’t it.

I think the President is going to take us to the to the end holding firm where was this backbone in 2009? 2010? 2011? 2012?

And Harry Reid where is that spineless Jellyfish I so Loathed.

Great post Fredster! Very funny comments.

@21: I hope you are right, Fuzzy. I fear a cave-in ahead.

@9 ROFLMAO! Lordy, I just LOVE Dixie Carter, may she rest in peace. What a tragic loss too soon. “bringin’ our crazy people downstairs and showin’ them off in the living room”…..priceless! Dixie brought so much laughter to a world with that role. We sure need her today.

Mary Luke said:

“bringin’ our crazy people downstairs and showin’ them off in the living room”…..priceless!

Well that’s so we can show off the tricks we taught them! LOL!

Fuzzy it will be interesting to see how long Obama holds out, but he’s perfectly right to do so.

socal: Thank you ma’am.

Watch this with care. Your haid might explode.

What a douche.

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