Wisconsin’s Sean Duffy explodes the myth of Congressional exemption from Obamacare

Much of the press surrounding the exchange between Republican Sean Duffy of Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional district and MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell swirls around the fact that Mitchell was left speechless towards the end. (Imagine that!)

Here’s the clip from Duffy’s YouTube feed. The whole thing is worthwhile, but if you are in a hurry, start around the six minute mark.

To summarize a brief exchange, Duffy asks why the President and staff have their own gold-plated health insurance program. Mitchell quips, “So do you.” And then Duffy sets her straight. No he doesn’t; he’s in Obamacare.

I was embarrassed for Duffy. Imagine making such a gaffe on MSNBC of all places! Of course Congress exempted themselves a few weeks ago. The news of the despicable betrayal by Republican House and Senate members was everywhere.

Except it wasn’t. Erik Wemple of the Washington Post does a good job tracking the game of political telephone. One thing he left out: the rule negotiated by the White House, House, and Senate to support staffers by increasing their pay with a supplement so they would not see a pay cut by the transition.

It turns out Duffy was right. He, his family, and his staff, are all in the exchanges after the first of the year. I was wrong. And I think Andrea Mitchell didn’t understand either. By her, “So do you,” comment and her stunned silence, she indicates what she thought to be true was challenged by Duffy.

There’s one other component to the the longevity of the myth that I think Wemple missed in his piece: It was mightily convenient to Barack Obama that the myth be continued. That he and some of his staff are especially exempt from Obamacare is arrogant, and arrogant is a very damning persona our president can not seem to shake. As long as we thought our own, sometimes even Republican, congressmen played to his side in this exemption, he was safe from scowling public opinion.

No more. Sean Duffy let that one cover fly in his interview. He also said the best picture for the country in adopting this new plan would have been Michelle Obama enrolling her family while the world watched. Dang. Yes. That would have been something.

At the end Duffy suggested Mitchell do her job to better convey the facts. That is advice we should all use.