Congress's ObamaCare 'Small Business' Fraud

Activists demand answers to lawmakers' falsification of documents for ObamaCare perks.

Americans fed up with the unbridled arrogance of the nation’s "ruling class” are about to be further infuriated. As American Commitment president Phil Kerpen reveals, there’s yet another outrageous scandal occurring on Capitol Hill, where the House and Senate have falsely certified themselves as small businesses so they can fund themselves and their staffs with taxpayer-funded health insurance—sidestepping ObamaCare provisions in the process. "They conspired to break the law," Kerpen told Front Page. 

In an interview with Newsmax TV, Kerpen reminded viewers that Americans had “demanded” Congress enter the healthcare exchanges like everyone else. Nevertheless, when the time came for members of Congress and their staffs to be subjected to the very same law they imposed on the public, "members of Congress of both parties didn't want to do it,” Kerpen noted. "They didn't want to lose taxpayer funding for their premiums for themselves and their staff.”

To avoid being treated like every other American, members of Congress cut a deal with President Obama. He obliged them with an Office of Personnel Management (OPM) rule change in 2013, insulating these insiders from the premium increases of between $5000 and $10,000 per person they would have otherwise faced if they were forced give up their taxpayer-subsidized policies and buy their insurance through the ObamaCare exchanges. The change was instituted because Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) had inserted a provision in ObamaCare stating that members of Congress and their staffs had to be covered by plans “created” by the Affordable Care Act or “offered through an exchange.” “That was probably the only good provision they put in the bill,” Kerpen remarked to FP.

And though they managed to wiggle their way around that provision, Congress still had a problem, because individual exchanges contained no mechanism for employer contributions. So Congress filed falsified documents containing the ludicrous claim that the House and Senate each have less than 50 employees, allowing them to qualify under the “small business” provisions contained in the healthcare bill. The sheer audacity of that claim is belied by the reality that more than 13,700 employees have signed up for the plan. "What they did is they lied,” Kerpen explained. "They filed false documents, one claiming the U.S. House of Representatives has less than 50 employees, another claiming the U.S. Senate has less than 50 employees.”

The falsifications contained in the documents were outrageous. As National Review’s Brendan Bordelon reveals, the "application said Congress employed just 45 people. Names were faked; one employee was listed as 'First Last,' another simply as ‘Congress,’” he writes.

Enter Judicial Watch (JW). After filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, they got government officials operating the Small Business Exchange to admit Congress and their staff members were taking advantage of benefits “its members and staff are not entitled to claim.” JW further discovered the applications filed by Congress made another outrageous and false claim, namely that the House and Senate are “local/state governments.” JW also noted the electronic signature section of the application states the following: I’ve provided true and correct information to all the questions on this form to the best of my knowledge. I know that if I’m not truthful, there may be a penalty. 

And then, JW delivered the capper:

"The actual names of the signatories were blacked out by the D.C. Exchange in the documents Judicial Watch obtained,” they revealed. "If nothing else, the political class knows how to cover its tracks.”

With an ample assist from the judiciary. While JW obtained the aforementioned documents, their lawsuit challenging Congress’s exemption was dismissed in February, by D.C. Superior Court Judge Herbert Dixon—despite the reality that Dixon acknowledged that Congress cannot be considered a small business under D.C. law. Nonetheless, he insisted the “exchange authority’s action in allowing members of Congress and their staff to participate in the District’s small business health options program is authorized by federal regulations.” Regulations created by Obama following pressure by Democrats—and following secret meetings over five months during which House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) hashed out a plan to save their exemptions.

Kerpen is determined to get to the bottom of this scandal via the House of Representatives. Toward that end he and members of several other conservative organizations sent a letter on June 15 to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). It urged Chaffetz to subpoena the documents. “Under House rules, you have the authority to issue a subpoena for these documents without a committee vote," the letter states. “On behalf of the members and supporters of our organizations and millions of other Americans keenly interested in this issue, we urge you to do so.”

“Unless Chairman Chaffetz thinks that it’s perfectly reasonable and legitimate for the House of Representatives to hold itself out as a small business with less than 50 employees, I think it would be an appropriate thing for him to investigate,” Kerpen told CNSNews.com. “And I also think that this is an ongoing fraud on the part of the D.C. government as well.”

No doubt. But it remains to be seen whether a member of Congress is capable, much less willing, to investigate his colleagues, especially when that investigation involves not only discovering who authorized this insult to the American public, but possibly ending the cushy arrangement our self-anointed ruling class has provided for themselves and their privileged employees. “We haven’t gotten a response to our letter," Kerpen revealed to FP. 

It will be illuminating to see if Chaffetz is willing to risk attaining pariah status among his fellow members of Congress in order to stand up for the interests of the American public.  That such a choice needs to be made is a grim reminder that government “of by and for the people” is steadily metastasizing into something far more sinister: Us vs. Them.

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