GOP Failure Theater: Obamacare edition and starring Rand Paul

rand paul

We’ve talked about Failure Theater time and again. This is when GOP representatives and senators play to us in the cheap seats by preaching fire and brimstone but when it comes time to vote, they actually vote in favor of what they railed against. Obamacare has been a veritable Broadway of Failure Theater. Senators Ron Johnson and John Barrasso, for instance, are sponsoring bills that are written to look like an attack on Obamacare when the real purpose is to short circuit any Supreme Court decision forbidding tax subsidies to people buying policies on federal exchanges.


The genesis of the problem at hand is the participation of Senate employees in the DC federal Obamacare exchange. Via National Review:

[During the] debate over the Affordable Care Act, when Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) insisted that lawmakers and congressional staff join a health-care exchange set up under the bill. For government employees, that meant giving up government-subsidized health-care contributions of between $5,000 and $10,000 per person. The White House scrambled to find a way to allow congressional employees to keep those subsidies. In Washington, D.C., only the small-business exchange allowed them to do so. After secret meetings with House speaker [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ] in 2013, President Obama instructed the Office of Personnel Management to allow Congress to file for classification as a small business, despite the fact that the law defines a small business as having no more than 50 employees and the House and Senate together employ tens of thousands.

Many were upset, via The Daily Caller:

 Paul’s constitutional amendment says no federal employees should get special exemptions from laws. The senator also plans to push a proposal requiring that Congress and all federal employees rely on Obamacare for their insurance.

His proposal comes after outrage from conservatives about a so-called “exemption” for members of Congress and their staff from Obamacare.
What’s being referred to as the “Obamacare fix” for lawmakers and staff was made because the Affordable Care Act includes an amendment from a Republican senator that changes how the government currently covers most of the cost of health-care premiums for members of Congress and their staffers. The new law mandates that members and staff must enter into exchanges or be covered by insurance “created” by law.

But after concerns about the cost of health care going up for congressional employees, the Office of Personnel Management announced in August that it would provide a subsidy of about 75 percent of the cost for the health care of members and staff.

Paul revealed his new amendment push on Sunday after TheDC inquired about a proposal from Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, who has proposed killing those federal Obamacare subsidies for lawmakers and their staff. “I support any effort to make all laws applicable to Congress that we pass,” Paul said.


This seems reasonable and proper to me. The Congress passed Obamacare, at the least they should be allowed, nay, forced and required, to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Lousiana [mc_name name=’Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’V000127′ ] was surprised to learn that the Senate had filled an application as a small business listing only 45 people, one of them named “First Last.” Vitter wanted to issue a subpoena to find out who had signed the fraudulent application so they could be questioned on how this travesty came to be. For a while things looked really good:

According to a congressional aide close to the situation, every senator on the GOP side of the Committee except for Paul initially agreed to issue the subpoena. Under Committee rules, a simple statement of agreement is enough for a member to consent to issuing a subpoena.

Again from National Review:

With nine Democrats on the committee lined up against the proposal, the chairman needed the support of all ten Republicans to issue the subpoena. But, though it seems an issue tailor-made for the tea-party star and Republican presidential candidate, [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] (R., Ky.) refused to lend his support. And when the Louisiana senator set a public vote for April 23, Majority Leader [mc_name name=’Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000355′ ] and his allies got involved.

“For whatever reason, leadership decided they wanted that vote to be 5–5, all Republicans, to give Senator Paul cover,” one high-ranking committee staffer tells National Review. “So they worked at a member level to change the votes of otherwise supportive senators.” Four Republicans — senators Mike Enzi, James Risch, [mc_name name=’Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’A000368′ ], and [mc_name name=’Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’F000463′ ] — had promised to support Vitter, but that would soon change.


I don’t have any knowledge of why Rand Paul would participate in such douchebaggery… other than it is genetically hardwired in his DNA. But his response is Failure Theater Gold.

A congressional aide to Senator Paul told Conservative Review that “Senator Paul opposes allowing Congress to exempt themselves from any legislation. To that end, yesterday, he reintroduced his proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit Congress from passing any law that exempts themselves. Senator Paul prefers this option over a partisan cross-examination of Congressional staff.”

So instead of doing the right and honorable thing — unmasking the author of a Senate employee who perpetrated a multi-million dollar fraud on the US government — Rand Paul voted lockstep with the Senate GOP leadership to block Vitter’s subpoena and, in return, the leadership gave him cover.

The best blow-by-blow summary of the action can be found at Conservative Review.

On the good news side of the ledger, Paul’s shameless dishonesty may finally be extracting a price from him.

Another conservative group is taking aim at GOP presidential hopeful Rand Paul, with a radio spot set to hit Iowa’s airwaves decrying the Kentucky senator’s recent vote to stymie an investigation into the congressional Obamacare exemption.

It’s the second ad to specifically target Paul from the right in a primary season that’s just beginning — and unlike previous attacks focused on his foreign policy views, it hits the Kentucky senator on the domestic turf where he’s historically garnered conservative support.

The radio spot created by the conservative nonprofit American Encore will begin running in Iowa on Thursday. The 60-second ad pushes the state’s caucus-goers to “ask Rand why” he voted against subpoenaing a fraudulent congressional application to D.C.’s health exchange during an April 23 Small Business Committee meeting.


Paul, if held to the standard of scrutiny to which we hold candidates, will be forced to take stands that will force him to choose between being [mc_name name=’Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000355′ ]’s catchfart, milking his father’s crazy, racist supporters, or appealing to relatively sane people. So far it doesn’t look promising for him.


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