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Congress: Overdrawn at the Bank of Public Opinion, Again

Last week a student presented himself in my office with a series of questions going back to the 1990s, with one in particular standing out: how the heck did Ross Perot emerge in 1992, and whatever happened to him and the populist mood he tapped into?  Realize that today’s students were barely or not yet born in 1992, so this is distant history.  The Tea Party phenomenon, of course, can be seen as an heir to the Perot movement.  But there was one event from those years that stands out for special notice and which finds its exact parallel right now in the special Obamacare privileges for Congress: the House Bank scandal.

Remember the House Bank scandal?  It was the convenient arrangement by which the House of Representatives’ captive in-house credit union would cover checking overdrafts by House members interest-free for as long as you wanted.  Nice deal.  Some members of Congress had written nearly 1,000 bad checks and had remained overdrawn for nearly three years—acts that would land ordinary citizens in court and possibly even in jail.  Not surprisingly, 18 of the 22 worst offenders were Democrats, as befits their big-spending, who-cares-about-deficits philosophy.  The scandal ended several House careers (and did result in a handful of criminal prosecutions), and fueled citizen outrage against Washington that Perot tapped into.

Polls show that over 90 percent of Americans object to the special privilege the Obama administration has delivered (probably illegally) of covering Obamacare premiums for members of Congress and their staffs.  This is as close to a no-brainer as there can be in politics, but that no-brainer part is precisely the problem.  If Republicans in Congress can’t figure this out, they really do deserve the old moniker as “the stupid party.”  The special exemption for Congress is this decade’s equivalent of the House Bank scandal.  How hard is this to figure out?

Bill Bennett and Chris Beach, my occasional peeps on “Morning in America” radio, deliver the proper beatdown in the Wall Street Journal today:

This is the height of hypocrisy, and worse, a trampling of the Founders’ code of equal application of the law. Having forced a health law on the American people, the White House and Democrats now seek to insulate themselves from the noxious portions of the law, and from the implementation struggles, indecision and uncertainty that many other Americans face today.

In other words, Congress’s health-care premiums will not rise, but yours may. Members of Congress will be able to afford to keep their health-insurance plan, but you may be kicked off yours. They will be able to afford to keep their doctors, but you may have to find a new one. . .

Read the whole thing, as the saying goes.  But only if your blood pressure is under control.

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