Congress now under the microscope

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Affordable Health Care Act is off to a less than spectacular start and appears to have as many detractors as supporters. Now the cannon of voter unrest is focused on where it all began, in the nation’s capital, specifically with political underlings who work for the powerful lawmakers.
Congressional aides are upset about a bill introduced by Sen. David Vitter that would overturn President Obama’s proposal that federal government continue to cover 75 percent of their health care costs.  
The issue is thorny for Congressmen, both from a political standpoint as well as practicality. If Congress elects to align with the president, then members run the risk of being perceived as having voted to use taxpayer dollars to subsidize the increased cost of health care because of the ACA for their own employees.
In the 2014 midterm elections such a vote could spell political suicide, exposure some may deem not worth taking. Yet, if Vitter’s proposal is approved then many of those aides might be forced to seek employment elsewhere, unable to afford rising insurance costs on salaries that are below than what is perceived by the general public.
Although the fallout likely would not grind the wheels of Congress to a halt, some lawmakers could face practical challenges in the day-to-day operations of their offices with smaller staffs.
Yet, it’s an issue they may have to confrontThe Affordable Care Act continues to polarize a nation even before it reaches full implementation.
All workers likely will suffer sticker shock with their first paycheck in January. Up until then, the ACA will have been more rhetoric than reality. In January, reality will settle in when individuals and families will be scrambling to make ends meet with a diminished paycheck.
Admittedly, Congress is in a difficult situation but as with any negotiable process compromise is the answer. Should the federal government continue to subsidize health insurance for Congressional aides to the tune of 75 percent? Most would likely agree the answer is “no.”
But that also leaves a wide gulf of flexibility, where some type of agreement can be reached to satiate taxpayers, who won’t feel their dollars are being misspent and aides who, like the rest of us, will have to learn to live on less.
It’s a difficult reality most Americans will confront while still shaking the cob webs from New Year’s Eve festivities. Congressional aides, and Congress for that matter, should be no different than the rest of us who will be forced to survive in this new and unchartered health care landscape.