Some Perspective On The Gingrey “Remarks”

Let’s name all the things wrong about this statement: “Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) lamented in a closed-door meeting Wednesday that his staff can get rich as lobbyists while he is “stuck here making $172,000.

For starters Jeff Simon doesn’t know what he’s writing about, and his post misses the point even if it is on the mighty WaPo. It’s also out of context. It’s out of the context in which the remarks were made, and it’s out of context EVEN IN THE ARTICLE IT LINKS TO. Here’s the context, for those of you able to read at better than an 8th-grade level: “…at a closed-door conference meeting this morning in the Capitol basement as they discussed a proposal to reverse the ruling, some lawmakers were more concerned about their own well-being.” And: “…Representative Frank Lucas of Oklahoma… warned colleagues the change would amount to a 7 percent cut to their paychecks.” And: “Representative Joe Barton of Texas said that he had never been a wealthy man. The change, he estimated, would cost him $12,000. “That’s a burden. And it’s a burden on our staff, too.

Frankly, those remarks by Reps. Lucas and Barton are a gigantic gob of spit in the faces of every American who would like to be exempted from being forced to buy health insurance through the proposed health-care exchange thingamajigs. The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, is going to cost people more money -unless those people happen to be elected members of Congress, or work for elected members of Congress. Congresscritters and their staffers get a special subsidy so that they don’t have to pay for more expensive health insurance out of their own pockets. How dare you, Joe Barton and Frank Lucas? You should both be run out of Washington DC, tarred, feathered and riding a rail.

Apparently Phil Gingrey was as incensed as I am, and offered up his remarks in an expression of an utter  “lack of sympathy” for Congress and staffers. Well, good for Gingrey. Eff those guys -and their staffs. Gingrey’s so-called “lament” about his salary was probably sarcastic -he makes “only” $172,000 -the same as those whining pukes Barton and Lucas. You want to know what Gingrey meant? Add “Boo-freakin hoo” anywhere in his statement.

Anyone who knows anything about Phil Gingrey knows that he has not only been a staunch opponent of Obamacare, he’s been demanding that Congress, the White House, and all staffers be subject to the exact same treatment under Obamacare as the rest of America. When HR 3200 (the first version of ObamaCare) was being marked up in 2009, Gingrey offered an amendment that would have made all federal employees – including the President and Congress and staff- subject to the exchanges. His opposition to the special exemption for Congress has not wavered. Unlike his spineless, crapweasel colleagues Lucas and Barton, he is willing to bite the same bullet as the rest of America.

I can’t claim to know the exact context, or tone, or spirit in which Gingrey offered his so-called “lament.” I wasn’t there, and it was a closed-door meeting -they’re leaky, but there’s no transcript. But two staffers who were there leaked to National Review’s John Strong to feed him the quote. Those staffers are either the chief of staff or the legislative director for the mealy-mouthed narcissists Lucas and Barton. Barton’s Chief of Staff is Ryan Thompson, and his LD is Michael Weems. Lucas’ Chief of Staff is Stacey Glasscock, and his LD is Courtney Box. Two of those four people think it’s more important to embarrass Phil Gingrey than to have to pay what the rest of America is going to have to pay for Obamacare. And they’re willing to play right into the Democrats’ hands in order to preserve their special exemption that you and I will never get.

Tar. Feathers. And a rail.




  1. achap39 says:

    “It’s also out of context.”

    I can’t claim to know the exact context, or tone, or spirit in which Gingrey offered his so-called “lament.” and Gingrey’s so-called “lament” about his salary was probably sarcastic…

    So you automatically know it’s out of context, then turn around and say you DON’T KNOW the exact context, but it was ‘probably’ sarcastic. Gotcha.

      • TheEiger says:

        We understand Mike. You made this up. It wasn’t even a good lie or conspiracy theory. It is quite embarrassing actually.

      • achap39 says:

        So let me get this straight. You don’t know the context, offer your version of it, then denigrate two GOP aides for passing it along to NRO.

        Yet when Gingrey talked to Jonathan Strong, he “does not remember exactly what he said.” Nope. No spin here at all.

          • achap39 says:

            The government is their EMPLOYER. Therefore, they fall under the government’s EMPLOYEE health plan. How is this so hard to understand?

            Also, way to change the subject on your spinning of Gingrey’s comments.

              • achap39 says:

                From a site you likely frequent (Daily Caller): “The guidelines, released Wednesday, allow for members and staff to retain their subsidies from the government, an exception in exchange for giving up “premium tax credits” that they would otherwise be eligible for under Obamacare.”

                They’re getting a subsidy because they’re foregoing tax credits. Had they been allowed to keep their credits and end subsidies, your ilk would cry foul.

                • Then why are Lucas and Barton claiming that going into the exchanges will cost them 7% or $12,000? They want the subsidy to avoid a financial hit. The financial hit is going to affect everyone else in America. Why should Congress and staff be more special than the rest of us?

                  • Because they used to get coverage at work but make too much money to qualify for a subsidy on the exchange?

                    The problem with the gimmicky subject Congress to the exchange thing “just like the rest of America” is that Congress is essentially a large corporation that employes thousands (or if you look at them in the context of the larger federal government) hundreds of thousands/millions of employees. No large company in America that provides health insurance to their employees is even eligible to buy on the individual or small business exchanges. That’s not what they are for.

                    So if you work for Congress, either as a member of staffer, currently you get some percentage of your healthcare paid for by your employee. Since Gingrey and others wanted them to experience the exchange, it only makes sense to continue having them pay for it. The exchanges (or the subsidies at least) aren’t for highly compensated employees of large companies. That’s not what the law intended.

                    It’s a gimmick, and gimmicks typically backfire in predictable and unpredictable ways. A more appropriate gimmick would be to force Congress to participate in a private exchange like many employers are doing (and btw these employees can still pay whatever they want for premiums on these exchanges), or on the other end of the spectrum open up Congress’s plan to regular old Americans.

                    • Salmo says:

                      Well-said. I have to figure Mike is being intentionally disingenuous with this because it isn’t all that difficult to understand.

                      Gingrey is grandstanding in an attempt to convince people he’s Paul Broun. The problem is that he isn’t Paul Broun, and given how inaccurate this argument is he doesn’t deserve anyone stepping up to defend his “context”. He’s the one that made an out-of-context attack to begin with.

          • TheEiger says:

            Quit changing the topic from you weren’t in the room and don’t know what was said and just made something up.

              • fromtheivorytower says:

                I’ll go ahead and answer it. No, I don’t think any red blooded American could support Congress getting a special subsidy. But the fact is, all federal employees have been getting this employer contribution for years. It has nothing to do with Obamacare, other than that it too is politically exploitable and worth debating. Whether or not we should reduce or end the employer (govt) contribution to federal healthcare plans is a perfectly legitimate question. It is factually inaccurate and unfair however to say that Congress gave itself a special Obamacare subsidy–nothing has changed in effect, and the administration wrote the rule anyways. The govt still subsidies 75 percent of congress’ healthcare, just like they did before obamacare. The real difference is that congressional staff–unlike anyone else in America–HAVE to use the exchanges and are INELIGIBLE for the regular subsidy, regardless of their income.

  2. TheEiger says:

    Wow Mike? You say you weren’t in the closed door meeting and don’t know the context of the quote, but then try to explain your theory of the context. That makes a lot of since. Then you blame it it on two out of four possible staffers? But you weren’t there? I’m not following that. Sounds like you or the person on Gingrey’s staff who really wrote this are throwing stuff at the wall and hoping something sticks. I’m not buying it. This is the most recent in a long line of statements that will ultimately haunt Gingrey. Let’s limit the number of rounds in a magazine, Tod Akin was right. Women are able to shut their bodies down during rape. This will not be the last dumb thing that comes out of his mouth. “I only make $172,000”. Well sir, kindly go back to delivering babies and that won’t be an issue. And we won’t have to hear you insult our intelligence.

    • You can bite me, Eiger. If you knew anything about Congress you would know that “closed door meetings” are attended only by members themselves and senior staffers. The NRO article cites “two staffers.” You can click the links and see for yourself -you don’t have to inform yourself, but I did put them there for a reason.
      And please, tell me how you feel about two alleged Republicans whining for special subsidies for themselves and their employees under Obamacare.

  3. fromtheivorytower says:

    I just want to put two things on the record, and folks can take from them what they want.

    For some reason, many folks have this perception of a congressional staffer as a 40 year old bureaucrat making six figures and trying to destroy America from Nancy Pelosi’s office. In reality, when you hear about Congressmen lamenting about their “poor staff,” they’re not talking about the Energy and Commerce attorneys and health lobbyists and chiefs of staff who wrote Obamacare and actually DO make six figures and well over in some cases…they’re talking about the fresh-faced, idealistic 22 year olds that graduated from college last spring and were studying for a mid term (or even the SAT) when Obamacare was being debated in Congress. That type of individual, which makes up the bulk of congressional staff, work 80 hour weeks for those members for $24,000 a year, and many members rightly feel loyalty to them and some responsibility for their well-being.

    My only other “for the record” point is that it’s worth considering the only “special” Obamacare treatment that deviates from longstanding federal healthcare policy is that many congressional staffers–the 22 year old staff assistants, NOT the 40 year old attorneys responsible for the bill–are being summarily ripped away from their current plan and forced on the exchanges, where they WILL in all likelihood be paying substantially more even with the employer subsidy.

    I have absolutely no problem, and in fact agree with the idea, that congressional staff and especially members should live under the laws they pass. And maybe we should revisit the longstanding 75 percent subsidy federal employees get with their healthcare in the first place–let’s talk about that–but that 75 percent subsidy has nothing to do with Obamacare and has everything to do with what’s been happening under our noses for years. So let’s have real conversations, and not just parrot the talking points from political groups trying to raise money off of us, politicians who are trying to run for higher office, or radio hosts trying to grab more ratings.

    For the record.

    • Excellent comment. As I mentioned also above, the real “make them live it” change that would be consistent with the law would be to have Congress contract a company to create or join an existing large business private exchange, as Darden and others announced they will be doing.

    • Stefan says:

      Thanks for pointing this out. When I saw the 33k number Gingrey referenced, I thought that was two pay levels up from the bottom. I recall 22k being entry point, and when I was offered LD it was at 36k. In DC, this is not a lot of money. That place is expensive. For a job that requires a suit every day, it can be tough.

  4. Jon Lester says:

    Others of us have to make do with what we can, at various points in our lives, so Washington staffers can do the same. They don’t have to make all of the same lifestyle choices as their peers.

  5. achap39 says:

    Typical Teapublican. Get called out on something you fabricate and spin, then try to change the subject of your argument when you have nothing of substance to back up an argument.

      • TheEiger says:

        Like you saying “bite me” and deleting my posts? Thanks with helping with the free exchange of ideas and vigorous debate.

      • achap39 says:

        Actually, not a Dem. Unlike some people :cough:, I actually look at voting records and what a candidate has done rather than the letter behind their name.

        I’ve voted for W, Obama, Kay Hagan (D-NC), Dick DeVos (R-MI), Rick Scott (R-FL), and Bill Nelson (D-FL) over the years.

        Something tells me your voting records has slightly less party diversity.

        As to the ‘indulging in name calling,’ I do believe you told a previous poster to ‘bite me.’ Kettle, meet pot. You are doing nothing to encourage a ‘free exchange of ideas and…debate.’ You are engaging in the typical ‘if I keep regurgitating talking points and yelling, that means I’m right’ rhetoric.

        • Be careful – if you’ve voted in that many states they will definitely think you’re a Democrat committing multiple counts of voter fraud. In fact you sound like the example they’ve all been waiting for to actually exist for years.

  6. bobspolitics says:

    Some more context – Read the entire article. Why would a Congressman engaged in an effort to eliminate special treatment for members and staff complain about how much $ he makes? The comment was clearly sarcastic and it really just highlights how out of touch DC is.

    Gingrey clearly hit a nerve taking on staffers and other members who want to be exempt from ObamaCare.

  7. Native Gwinnettian says:


    It’s not true that Congressional staff is the only group who gets the subsidy. Every employee of the federal government gets the subsidy, it just goes through a different route. The money is the same. Federal employees participate in FEHBP and get a portion of their health care paid for. The OPM rule created for Congress is in response to an amendment by Chuck Grassley which only applied to Congress and no other federal employees. The OPM rule was created specifically for Congress, because Grassley’s amendment put Congress in the exchanges and OPM didn’t have the regulatory authority to pay the existing subsidy into the exchanges without changing a rule.

    Furthermore, the only Congressional staffers whose health care is changing is personal offices. Leadership offices and committee staff ( those who work for Boehner, Cantor, Lucas!!!) get to stay on the old plan.

    Let me describe to you the kind of low-level to mid-level staffer who is going to work on Capitol Hill after you take away their health insurance. Right now, the pay sucks but it’s enough to get by, but people are well qualified and do a pretty good job. They make between 28K and 40K and live in one of the most expensive cities in America. They’ve likely already taken a 3-5% pay cut this year when the sequester kicked in. They tend to live off of cheese plates and cheap wine at random receptions, save for the occasional cheap wing night at a Capitol Hill dive bar.

    If you take away 4-6K in health benefits, you’re going to be left with kids who either come from money whose parents will pay for them to have a post-college vacation in DC, or kids who are working bartending jobs until 2:00 AM every night to make up the difference. If that is what you want, then just be honest about it and say that you’re OK with Congressional staff being made up of trust-funders and drunks. We already have enough of those in Congress, I’d prefer not to have the staff be made up of them as well.

  8. BravesFan22 says:

    I was redirected to this post from another site and I was compelled to respond. Y’all are nuts if you think Phil Gingrey was somehow serious with his “only” comment. I met the good doctor at a campaign event a while back (full disclosure: he is my current Congressman and I have repeatedly voted for him) and I had a chance to talk to him a little about where he stands with Obamacare. I trust his opinion on the matter because he’s a doctor, he’s done far more research on the bill than any of us have and he has been staunchly against it since the day it was introduced. He told me he thinks this may be the worst written piece of legislation every introduced in Congress and that was appalled to learn that the very people who had written it had actually written themselves partially out of it. If you recall, Congressional committee and leadership do not have to give up their current health care, but other staff do. Dr. Gingrey emphasized how truly unfair it is for the authors of the bill to foist this behemoth on the rest of us while they quietly slipped out the proverbial back door, untouched.

    More to the point of the argument here though, the man was a successful doctor before he became a United States Representative. Say what you will about wealthy people running for Congress, but it doesn’t seem to me at least that Dr. Gingrey needs this job. He’s already made his money. He’s there because he feels like he can do some good. That’s certainly more than most of the people posting on this site can say. But on top of not needing the job, he has also introduced legislation that would actually cost him thousands of dollars more for his health care. It would force everyone in Congress – you know, the people who wrote this God awful mess – to pay for their health care like every other American, myself included. He did it because he’s a man of principle and he believes that if we cannot get rid of this monstrosity (which, let’s be honest, we can’t until it’s namesake is out of the White House and has been replaced by someone who actually has a thimble’s worth of sense), everyone should be treated equally under it – himself included.

    So how can you reconcile the “only” comment then? It seems only logical that someone who has actually introduced a bill to raise the cost of his very own health care must have been joking. More importantly though, let’s stop nitpicking about what exactly Dr. Gingrey said or how he said it, and start going after the real problem: President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s steadfast refusal to acknowledge that Obamacare is an unworkable, hugely expensive nightmare that a majority of Americans want to see repealed. Seems to me that’s the slightly more pressing elephant in the room.

    That’s just my two cents. Like I said, I felt compelled to comment. I’m sure y’all will rip me apart, but I think my logic here is sound.

    • Most college educated employees who work in some sort of legal environment (a close proxy for what a Congressional job is) have their employer paying for most of their healthcare. The kind of person who is working in Congress wasn’t like McDonalds or Congress, well I guess I’ll pick Congress. They were like Congress or King&Spalding/Goldman Sachs/Facebook/Google, I think I’ll take a huge pay cut for the experience I’ll get working in Congress. They’d probably have an even higher percentage of their healthcare costs paid for by their employer if they weren’t working in Congress. When you consider the kind of value that Congress gets from having employees like this choose to sacrifice short term earning potential to work there, paying what is in the grand scheme of things a small amount for their healthcare makes a lot of sense. The exchanges are for people who can’t get healthcare through their job. People who work in Congress were a) already getting health care through their job and b) would be getting healthcare through their job if they weren’t working for Congress.

      No one is being “forced” to use the exchange. You can still get healthcare from work, and they’ll still sell plans off the exchange. The only people in America being forced to use the exchange are employees of Congress! Oh btw – if you don’t have health insurance and still don’t want to buy it on the exchange, you’re getting a great deal with the mandate. For a maximum 2% of your income, you can go without health insurance and then get it once you get sick. Think of it as a high deductible catastrophic lifetime plan. This stuff isn’t that complicated people.

  9. John Konop says:

    I know and like Phil, but I do support Karen. With that said, it is rather obvious he was being sarcastic especially if you know him. If Mike wants to debate the issue of his staff healthcare……that is fine in my opinion…..I can really see both sides……But the attack on Phil via the statement is another example what is wrong with politics, 24 hour news cycle………This gotcha out of context BS….over focusing on real issues is why I am very hesitant to ever run again…..Why not focus on real issues instead?

  10. griftdrift says:

    The salient point from the article I linked.

    Republicans added an amendment to the Affordable Care Act to force members of Congress and their aides off of the federal government’s employee health plan and onto the newly created health insurance exchanges. The exchanges weren’t designed for this, and the unusual situation meant lawmakers might lose the subsidies they use to help pay for their premiums. Fortunately for denizens of Capitol Hill, the Office of Personnel Management (sort of the government’s human resources department) ruled that the government could continue to provide the subsidy. Case closed?

    Not exactly. The ruling prompted conservative groups like FreedomWorks to claim that Congress was giving itself an exemption from Obamacare

  11. Herb says:

    Not much perspective really needs to be placed upon his remarks. It’s pretty clear to me what he’s saying. Working for us doesn’t pay enough for spoiled, entitled brats like him! If he wants a pay raise, then he should do what his colleagues Richard Baker, Jimmy DeMint, Denny Hastert, and Trent Lott did: Resign and join a lobbying firm! Or he could simply do what most supporters of the Repudiated Party are doing right now, and collect a weekly welfare check.

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