Hill Staffers Speak Out

Lizza e-mailed congressional staffers about the Vitter amendment, which would deprive them of any employer contribution to their health insurance. A response from a Democratic staffer:

I guess what I find most outrageous about the Vitter Amendment is that it most hurts the youngest, least well paid staff who already make 25-35k a year in one of the most expensive cities in the country. We have several who fit that description in my office—they all went to top schools, got sterling GPAs, have awesome resumes that could get them hired at an Investment Bank or anywhere else, but they came here to try to make a difference. I make a somewhat healthier salary, and I’m married so I can hop on my wife’s insurance if necessary. But they don’t have those options. We’ll do what we can to make them whole if Vitter becomes law, but most offices won’t—especially on the R side. They’ll just ask another group of 22-25 year olds who came here for the right reasons to live on $20k a year. And they’ll get them to do it, but they’ll be less qualified, less intelligent, and they’ll be looking for the exit almost immediately.

It’s especially galling since they also could achieve the exact same purpose of being able to tell their base that they repealed Congress’s fake exemption from ACA by the “Vitter-lite” proposal which would only hit Members, and not staff. That they apparently decided that wasn’t good enough leads me to the conclusion that screwing staff is a feature, not a bug. The GOP would like to hollow out Congress, just as they have tried to do to many other federal agencies. The only thing better than getting rid of a federal agency is keeping it on life support, while the political hacks take their swings at it.

It’s short-sighted, it’s cruel, it’s unnecessary. I just don’t get it.

Weigel got similar e-mails about the Vitter amendment. One House staffer’s thoughts:

I can guarantee you that if our subsidy were taken away, I would immediately start looking for work in the private sector. I have absolutely no problem with participating in the health exchanges—this is, as many have pointed out, not about Obamacare. But there is no way I could stay in this job indefinitely if I had to shoulder the entire burden of my family’s health care. I care deeply about Congress and have always felt extremely privileged to work here and more than willing to sacrifice the higher pay, better hours and other perks I might find off the Hill. But there’s a limit to what we can absorb, and I know I speak for a great many of my colleagues.