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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

GOP Displays Shameless Hypocrisy on HCR, Earmarks

Brian Beutler reports at Talking Points Memo on four Democratic House members’ creative expose of Republican hypocrisy on health care reform:

Four members — Joe Crowley (NY), Linda Sanchez (CA), Donna Edwards (MD), and Tim Ryan (OH) — are rounding up signatures for a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Speaker-to-be John Boehner, encouraging them to press their members to refuse their federal health benefits based on the same principles underlying their opposition to health care reform.
“It is amazing that your members would complain about not having health care coverage for a few weeks, even after campaigning to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which will help provide coverage to millions of Americans who find themselves without health insurance for months or even years,” the letter reads. “It begs the question: how many members of the Republican conference will be forgoing the employer-subsidized FEHBP coverage and experiencing what so many Americans find themselves forced to face? If your conference wants to deny millions of Americans affordable health care, your members should walk that walk.”

A fair question, not that the Republicans will answer the Dems’ letter with anything resembling candor. But it is a question that decent political reporters should keep asking Republicans who have been calling for repeal of the Affordable Care Act until they get some answers. The letter continues:

…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. It is worth noting that in 2011, the Federal government will pay $10,503.48 of the premiums for each member of Congress with a family policy under the commonly-selected Blue Cross standard plan.
It is important for the American people to know whether the members of Congress and members-elect who have called for the repeal of health insurance reform are going to stand by their opposition by opting out of the care available to them at the expense of hard-working taxpayers. We look forward to your response in the coming days about exactly how many of the members in the Republican conference will be declining their taxpayer-supported health benefits.

The controversy about Republican opponents of HCR who accept government-subsidized health insurance was re-ignited when GOP incoming House freshman Andy Harris complained that his health insurance wouldn’t kick in until a month after he began working.
In addition to the hypocrisy Republicans are displaying in calling for repeal of the Affordable Care Act while accepting government-subsidized health insurance for themselves, many GOP outspoken opponents of earmarks are also on very shaky ground when you look at their track records. For example, according to Andy Birkey at the Minnesota Independent:

Just days after saying she had requested zero earmarks for her district, Rep. Michele Bachmann admitted to Fox News’ Brian Wilson that she had indeed requested millions in earmarks in 2008. But, she says, it’s not a big deal because her earmarks were less than the average earmarks for the rest of Minnesota’s congressional delegation.
…Bachmann secured $3,767,600 for her district in 2008. As Think Progress has pointed out, the average earmark for Minnesota’s delegation is $2.1 million…

When Republican House members talk about their positions on HCR repeal or banning earmarks, apparently what they say depends on which face you are hearing from.

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