When you think about it, it’s kind of an odd thing for him to do. For a number of reasons.
For instance, when you just look at the headline, it sounds like a vote of confidence (See? I believe in Obamacare enough to sign up for it even when I don’t have to!) — which isn’t going to endear him to that portion of the base he has so many problems with. That’s not what he’s doing, of course, but how many of those voters are going to dig deeper and appreciate that he’s doing it as a protest?
Anyway, here’s the release:
Graham Will Enroll in Obamacare South Carolina Exchange, Decline Taxpayer Subsidy for Members of Congress
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) will enroll in Obamacare’s South Carolina health care exchange and forego the special taxpayer subsidy available to Members of Congress.
“I don’t think Members of Congress should get a special deal,” said Graham. “Obamacare is being pushed on the American people and we should live under it just like everyone else.”
Graham noted that under a special exemption issued by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), he could have enrolled in the DC Health Link exchange and the government would have continued subsidizing about 75 percent of his health care premium. This exemption only applied to Members of Congress and congressional staff.
“As a 58-year old male living in Oconee County my insurance costs are going up about $400 a month, more than 200 percent, under Obamacare,” said Graham. “In addition, my health care coverage will be a fraction of what it used to be. Sadly, I’m not the only one who will feel the negative effects of Obamacare. It’s happening all over South Carolina.
“The worst is yet to come, but I will continue my fight to repeal, replace, defund and allow Americans to opt-out of this horrible government program,” concluded Graham.
Some questions and observations that occur to me as I read that:
- Will he try to do it via the website? If so, is this intended to be the first of a series documenting the difficulties that regular folks may or may not be experiencing with that interface?
- Is the angry part of the base really likely to see this as identifying with them and sharing their troubles? I mean, don’t the folks who hate Obamacare mostly folks who have insurance with their employers, and don’t they tend to generalize people who will actually be on Obamacare as the kinds of freeloaders they despise? I mean, isn’t that the shorthand for Tea Partiers? Doesn’t he, by signing up for it, become even more one of them, a manifestation of the Other?
- If he succeeds in his “fight to repeal, replace, defund,” will he then go back on the cushy congressional plan, or will he, like the people who actually depend on Obamacare, just go without medical coverage? Now that would be one for the books. If he does the first, it makes him look like a hypocrite. If he does the latter, it exposes the need, if not for Obamacare, then for something that achieves the same goals, which is not what the problematic portion of his base wants to have rubbed in their faces. It really sets up an interesting problem.
- Consider the part about “allow Americans to opt-out of this horrible government program.” Here’s the thing about that… No program that achieves or approaches the actual, legitimate goals of healthcare reform (that is to say, effective universal coverage) can allow people to “opt out.” If people can opt out, you’ve got a lousy system that accomplishes nothing and is too expensive to maintain. Everybody knows, or should know, this. Mitt Romney knew it, for instance. There is no reform without a mandate. One of the problems with Obamacare is that the mandate is too weak — you can “opt out” by paying a penalty that is less than the cost of participating, at least at first.
Perhaps other thoughts will occur to y’all. In any case, I thought this a weird way to dramatize his position.