Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Three Congressmen Reject Congressional Health Care

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While most politicians campaign on the premise that they are “one of us,” they seem to lose touch with the American people once in office. Three elected officials, however — all Republican members of the House — refuse to let that happen: Tea Party endorsee Joe Walsh of Illinois, Bobby Schilling of Illinois, and Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania. All three have indicated their intent to reject the congressional health care plan.

Shilling’s and Kelly’s announcements came just days after the midterm elections.

On Thursday, November 18, Schilling told ABC’s Topline, “My family and I are bringing our own health care to Washington, D.C. Congress shouldn’t have anything better than the American people.”

On the very same day, Kelly told C-SPAN’s Washington Journal that he too would not be accepting the congressional health plan.

I don’t need it. I’ve got my own plan. There is no reason for anybody to get anything different from anybody else…Why should my health care as a public official be any different than anybody else’s?

According to The Blaze, Representative Walsh joined the ranks when he told the New York Times last week that “he is refusing the congressional health insurance plan in a show of solidarity with the American people.”

Indicating that he plans to stick to his Tea Party roots, Walsh observed, “I don’t think congressmen should get pensions or cushy health care plans.”

The Blaze continued:

Walsh’s decision is in lockstep with some of his other positions. He’s a staunch fiscal conservative who wants serious entitlement reform, is hoping to repeal Obamacare, and is even against the recent tax-rate deal.

“We cut taxes, raised spending and contributed to the deficit,” Walsh said of the tax compromise. “Republicans should have held out for something better.”

Walsh’s rejection of the congressional health care plan does not have the full support of his family, however — particularly his wife, who has a pre-existing medical condition, and has difficulty finding a plan on the open market.

However, Walsh refuses to compromise his fiscally conservative Tea Party values. His convictions angered establishment Republicans, who were utterly surprised by his primary victory. As a result, Walsh’s congressional campaign received minimal funding from the Republicans — though their ire had little impact on the outcome. The New York Times describes Walsh’s victory:

Deemed extreme by Republican honchos, Mr. Walsh — an unabashed Tea Party member, a business consultant and graduate of the University of Chicago’s public policy school — stunned Melissa Bean, the incumbent moderate Democrat, even though he had been dramatically outspent.

Walsh has been unafraid to announce his intent to seek major changes in Social Security and Medicare.

“I think we were sent to D.C. to cut spending and growing the economy. We have to talk about cutting real programs [and agencies] like the Department of Energy and Department of Education,” Walsh states.

Aware that his staunch conservative positions may be “politically incorrect,” Walsh declared, “I’m going to D.C. absolutely prepared to lose in two years.”

The rejection of the congressional health care plan is in stark contrast to some other newly-elected officials, such as Representative-elect Andy Harris (R-Md.), who complained during a Hill orientation program when he learned that his government-sponsored health care would not begin immediately.

Democrats took the opportunity to criticize Harris for demanding the health care considering he campaigned on repealing Obamacare.

Following that, Politico explains, “House Democrats, led by Representative Joe Crowley of New York, have since dared Republicans to turn down the congressional health coverage.”

“You cannot enroll in the very kind of coverage that you want for yourselves, and then turn around and deny it to Americans who don’t happen to be members of Congress,” Crowley asserted.

It seems Schilling, Kelly, and Walsh have accepted Crowley’s challenge.

Photo: Rep.-elect Joe Walsh, R-Ill. speaks to the media during a news conference at the GOP headquarters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 17, 2010: AP Images