Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from the LA Times

« Previous Post | Top of the Ticket Home | Next Post »

How sweet is this? Congress may have inadvertently excluded itself from any coverage in healthcare bill

April 14, 2010 |  1:48 am

Emergency Room Sign Remember during that ever-civil healthcare debate that lasted for 10% of this entire century when Democratic House Speaker Nancy "I Feel Fine, Why?" Pelosi said they'd have to pass President Obama's healthcare legislation in order for us to find out what was in it?

Well, how do you say "Ooops!" in San Franciscan?

Turns out, those 2,800 precious pages of paper may well contain arcane provisions that deny all members of Congress, their staffs and other federal employees access to the wonderful healthcare plan they've given themselves exclusively all these years while the rest of us commoners made do with what we had or didn't have?

From the perpetually-diligent Robert Pear comes shocking but strangely delicious word that.... their eagerness to impose what Washington thinks is the proper kind of healthcare on all Americans, these currently-elected members of Congress may have screwed themselves out of the separate comprehensive coverage they thought they were going to get to keep for themselves.(See congressional reaction in photo below.)

Moreover, as for its job evaluation, in the precise prose of Pear:

The confusion raises the inevitable question: If they did not know exactly what they were doing to themselves, did lawmakers who wrote and passed the bill fully grasp the details of how it would influence the lives of other Americans?

A series of recent polls have shown that a majority of Americans like the yet-to-be-implemented Obama healthcare bill so much that they'd like to have it repealed.

Nevada Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Such an argument, also involving possibly not funding it, are certain to be key debate topics between Republicans and Democrats from now through the Nov. 2 midterm elections.

Obama, whose performance is now approved by slightly less than half of Americans, has nothing at stake that day -- indeed, other Democrats have asked him to stay away from their congressional campaigns.

But his Democratic Party sure does, controlling as it currently does healthy majorities in both the House and the Senate that the president strongly urged to vote for his plan.

Now, Pear of the N.Y. Times has obtained an 8,100-word memo from the Congressional Research Service finding that the new law may well "remove members of Congress and Congressional staff" from their current comprehensive plan long before an alternative is available.

The law does provide for people to retain the health coverage they like, as long as it exists anyway. But the memo says Congress may have inadvertently not only excluded itself but not specified an effective date.

This could force Pelosi and Harry "Andrei, you've lost another submarine?" Reid to take up the Obama healthcare bill a third time. And this repair effort would place Democrats on the awkward side of restoring special programs for members of Congress only, a prospect no doubt relished by the Republican minority pushing for its own November change to believe in.

Related item:

Voter approval of Congress surges when members leave on vacation

-- Andrew Malcolm

Speaking of elections, vote here for Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or follow us @latimestot. You can also go to our new Facebook fan page here.

Photo: Associated Press; Getty Images.