Relating to the struggles of their constituents

RELATING TO THE STRUGGLES OF THEIR CONSTITUENTS….. When congressional Democrats began to pressure their Republican colleagues to turn down the taxpayer-subsidized health care benefits lawmakers enjoy, there was a political point. Dems knew GOP officials would be reluctant to turn down quality, affordable care for themselves and their families, even as they fought to kill the Affordable Care Act.

But there’s a related benefit that wasn’t immediately obvious. As several Republicans accept the Democratic challenge and reject the available health care benefits, they’re starting to face the same struggles their constituents deal with all the time.

Ask any House Republican about repealing President Barack Obama’s health care law, and you’ll get the same fiery, self-assured talking points about tearing down what Speaker John Boehner has called a “monstrosity.”

But talk to some of the 16 freshman lawmakers who have declined their government health benefits, and you’ll hear a different side of the story — about tough out-of-pocket expenses, pre-existing conditions and support for health reforms that would help those who struggle with their coverage. As they venture into the free market for health insurance, these lawmakers — many of whom swept into office fueled by tea party anger over the health care law — are facing monthly premiums of $1,200 and fears of double-digit rate hikes.

Imagine that. Politicians who are forced deal with the same private market the rest of us deal with suddenly notice it leaves much to be desired.

One member who chose not to accept congressional benefits, Rep. Richard Nugent (R-Fla.), said, “I have a niece who has pre-existing conditions, and I worry about her if she was ever to lose her job.”

Nugent nevertheless voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and eliminate the protections enjoyed by his own niece.

Indeed, the problem here is that these Republicans don’t seem to be learning anything from the experience. Ideally, they’d subject themselves to the private, unreformed marketplace, notice the flaws — higher costs, discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, etc. — and conclude, “Well, maybe getting rid of the entire health care law would be a mistake.”

But the intensity of their right-wing myopia is powerful enough to overwhelm reason. These folks see the problems first hand, and still don’t care to fix them.