David Vitter vs. the GOP

Two years before his announcement that he would run for governor, [mc_name name=’Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’V000127′ ] declared war on health care subsidies for Congress and its staff. The subsidies were to be lost thanks to Obamacare, but the White House worked with Congress to get everyone their subsidies by labeling Congress a small business enterprise or some such nonsense.

Since then, Vitter has brought this issue up time and again, much to the ire of some of his colleagues. And not just the Democrats.

One fellow senator calls [mc_name name=’Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’V000127′ ]’s years-long crusade to scrap health care subsidies for lawmakers and their staffers “disingenuous.” Another says it’s obviously being done “for political purposes.”

“I just don’t think he’s made a lot of progress on this issue,” a third senator says.

And those are just fellow Republicans talking.

Within the chummy confines of the U.S. Senate, Vitter has emerged as one of the most disliked members. The second-term senator’s effort to kill the federal health care contribution, worth several thousand dollars to lawmakers and their staffers, is a big part of it. But the two-year drive, his critics say, symbolizes an operating style that Vitter’s critics complain is consumed with public relations, even for an ambitious member of Congress: speeding in and out of meetings, railing about issues on the Senate floor but doing little to execute behind the scenes, firing off news releases left and right. In an institution in which the inside game is critical, Vitter doesn’t even pretend to bother with it.

It bothers Republican senators that Vitter won’t play along and just let things lie. He keeps bringing it up. He keeps fighting it. And, damnit, he keeps releasing press releases about it.

The POLITICO story is filled with wonderful quotes from senators both on and off the record who are, frankly, butthurt that someone would want to take away their subsidies. In fact, it could (*gasp*) lead to staffers leaving politics and going into the private sector!

If he succeeds, some of them say, more of their high-level aides will bolt Capitol Hill for lucrative jobs in the private sector.

The fact is that the GOP has largely capitulated on the idea of getting rid of the Affordable Care Act. The few who wish to stand against it are attacked by their own party as being out of touch, but given that the Affordable Care Act is still deeply unpopular (and getting worse!), the protectionist cult within the GOP are the ones who are the most out of touch.

It is a terrible shame that the party of small government is perfectly fine using a big government end run around a law to get subsidies for their healthcare when they are already paid three times the median household income in America.