Exclusive--GOP Rep: Veto Threat of Obamacare Subsidy Ban for Govt Members 'Ridiculous'
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) told Breitbart News on Tuesday evening that President Barack Obama’s threat to veto an amendment that he and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) have developed that would eliminate the Obamacare subsidies for members of Congress, their staffers, and administration officials and staffers is a purely political move.
When Breitbart News asked DeSantis about Obama’s veto threat, he replied: “That’s just unbelievable.”
“The whole issue is as we approach this Oct. 17 day [the supposed debt ceiling deadline], which isn’t the real day—I think we all know it’s past that—but as we get there, the president has taken this weird position of trying to rattle the markets. Normally, presidents would say ‘hey, we’re going to pay our debts come hell or high water. I want Congress to do ‘x’ but let me tell you I’ll do everything in my power [to pay our debts].’"
"That’s not what this president is doing," DeSantis noted. "He’s actually saying that we won’t pay some of these debts potentially. So it’s odd.”
Politico reported on Tuesday evening: “President Barack Obama told House Democratic leaders Tuesday that he would veto debt-ceiling legislation if it includes a provision pushed by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and House GOP leaders that would cut health subsidies for congressional and senior executive branch officials, according to sources familiar with the discussion at a private White House meeting. The version of the provision included in a bill the House is slated to consider Tuesday night would eliminate employer contributions for lawmakers' and Hill staffers' health insurance purchases, and require the president, vice president and political appointees to enter into Obamacare exchanges without a tax subsidy.”
Politico added that Obama was “unprompted” on the issue and brought up the amendment’s language on his own.
DeSantis said it is hard for him to understand what is going on in President Obama’s head when it comes to these negotiations and that the president is not acting in good faith.
“Kind of getting into his mind about what he wants to do should we reach that point is difficult for me but I think it’s going to be an untenable position to say you’re vetoing a short-term debt extension because the subsidies for members of Congress are revoked," he said." I think if he ended up precipitating economic problems as a result of that, I think that would be a decision that would rank in the annals of history as one of the biggest miscalculations."
"But I think he sees it as he just wants to do whatever he can to blame Republicans," DeSantis explained. "If bad things happen, and if Republicans take the blame, I think he’s fine with that. That’s unfortunate, but I do think that’s where he’s at right now. But that would just be a ridiculous veto if he were to veto that because of the subsidy ban.”
DeSantis said the reason why he, Vitter, and other congressional conservatives are fighting to revoke special treatment for members of government is because they believe all Americans should be treated the same, regardless of their political connections.
“This idea with what OPM tried to pull with members of Congress and staff, I mean, the law is clear,” DeSantis said. “They need to go to exchanges. There is absolutely zero subsidies in the law. Democrats pressured Obama to issue these subsidies through OPM. He ordered them to do it. This is just an easy issue for us to take head on."
"This isn’t the only I’ve said we should do. I’ve been in the mix with all the stuff we’ve done from the beginning," he continued. "We did do the Vitter language on one of the Continuing Resolutions we sent over with the individual mandate delay. All the Democrats in the Senate voted no on that and I think that’s going to come back to haunt them and it already is in some of these Senate races. So I’m glad it’s there.”
“Now, initially, the proposal from leadership was only members and the president and vice president but no staff,” DeSantis said. “Basically, that’s kind of splitting the baby because the OPM subsidy is illegal for both Congress and staff. It’s just not in the statute. There was a lot of pushback in conference where they said if we are going to go that route, we need to overturn the OPM rule entirely and put the president and vice president into the exchanges.”
DeSantis said he thinks fighting this battle is a political winner for conservatives and Republicans, and he plans to continue doing battling.
“For me, why I think this particular type of thing is useful is because what you’re seeing with Obamacare is you have this big gargantuan law imposing all these burdens on society,” DeSantis said. “But for those people that are politically connected--employers, unions, members of Congress--they’re granted relief, carve-outs or waivers from the provisions. The problem with that is one, it’s not fair and it’s not what our constitutional system is supposed to allow but it actually makes it more difficult going forward to actually repeal Obamacare if you have people who are politically connected who can kind of evade the negative effects of it."
"If people throughout society feel this stuff uniformly, then I think it increases the chances that we’re going to see Obamacare relief for society as a whole. I wanted to see that from the beginning with what we were doing trying to defund Obamacare," he explained. "But at a minimum, you can’t have a two-tiered system in which Obamacare burdens average Americans and the kind of political elite and business elite are able to get their waivers. We know this is going to continue going forward under this law.”