Congress to the People: Do as we Say…

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I was going to write about debates. I still may, but I received an email complaining about how Congress exempts itself from the laws it passes. I thought, that can’t be? They wouldn’t do anything that dastardly. Just kidding. Of course they could and would.

Politico writes, “Congress has a long, checkered history of failing to apply to
itself, the laws it passes effecting everybody else. For years, key laws — including the “Americans With Disabilities Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act”— didn’t apply to Congress.”

James Madison in Federalist Paper 57 states, “I will add, as a fifth circumstance in the situation of the House of Representatives, restraining them from oppressive measures, that they can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as on the great mass of the society.”

That’s a hot one!

Here are just a few.

Discrimination:
A new report from Congress’s Office of Compliance, regarding the 1964 Civil Rights Act, notes that Congress has never applied the provision to itself. That’s awesome. Not a single instance of discrimination since 1964? Must be some sort of record.

Healthcare:
Congress is exempted from Obamacare. The spin is that Congress isn’t specifically exempt. No, of course not. They wouldn’t write it in plain english like that. A House spokesman says, “Members of Congress are subject to the legislation’s mandate to have insurance, and the plans available to them must meet the same minimum benefit standards that other insurance plans will have to meet. “All plans would have to follow those requirements by 2019”. Because of their Cadillac healthcare plans, they already meet the minimum requirements and are, defacto, exempt. Because it isn’t actually spelled out, they can naturally deny their exemption.

Insider Trading:
From an article I wrote a month or so ago, we know they are exempt from current insider trading laws.

OSHA:
Unlike every other employer in the country, Congress is exempt from Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) regulations. What a deal.

Repayment of Student Loans:
Many Congressional staffers have their student’s loans forgiven.
Here is what I pulled directly off Congressman Dennis Ross’s (12th District, Florida) official website. He is, I guess, trying to disprove the claim.

“Fact – It is wrong to say congressional staffers, do not pay student loans back. There are student loan repayment programs that may be offered to eligible House and Senate staffers, but those programs have annual and lifetime caps. It’s possible that some congressional staffers will not have to repay their student loans, but that depends on how much they owe and how long they remain on staff. It is also worth pointing out that a similar program exists for executive branch employees; so congressional staffers aren’t the only ones receiving this benefit. All of the programs were created to help recruit and retain qualified employees. We don’t take any position on the merits of the programs. But it’s simply not true that they exempt anyone from repaying their student loans.”

Notice he parsed his words by saying, “exempt anyone.” You can’t make this stuff up. That statement was his proof? In the first sentence, he says there is no program. The next few, well, there kind of is. The last sentence, he admits there is, but other people do it too, so you can’t just be mad at us.

As an aside, I have all but given up on these supposed fact-checking sites. Both Snopes & Factcheck.org claim this student loan thing was a myth, when it is truly a fact. My guess is, like politicians, they can claim something is a myth if doesn’t apply 100% across the board.

There are probably 100’s more examples of congressional malfeasance, but this is a start. I’m sure Madison has been turning over in his grave for a century or more.

The email I received ended with this:
Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution: “Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States.”

I would change the amendment to read, “Every branch & entity of government”.

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