A fun nugget buried in this story about Rep. Ann Buerkle’s (R-NY) first town hall meeting as an elected member of Congress. Constituents repeatedly asked a puzzled Buerkle about her health benefits. She couldn’t figure out why. But her staff sure could.
Buerkle, who voted to repeal the health care reform act, was twice asked about the health insurance she receives as a government employee. At first she said she couldn’t understand why people were so interested in her health insurance, and that taxpayers didn’t pay anything for it. She later corrected herself after being handed a note from a staffer. Like most employees, she pays for a portion of her insurance and her employer, the government, pays the rest, she said.
As Republicans point out, these are employer provided benefits, which they’re all for. So it’s not as simple as straight hypocrisy. But there’s a fundamental tension between the GOP’s naysaying on health care reform and their willingness to accept federally subsidized private insurance — just as in the health care law. These flubs grow out of that tension. And Dems can’t get enough of it.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.