One of Illinois’ newest Congressman – Republican and Tea Party favorite Joe Walsh, who represents the 8th district that consists of Chicago’s far northwest suburbs – has refused to accept the government-sponsored health insurance plan that typically covers lawmakers. “I don’t think congressmen should get pensions or cushy healthcare plans,” he said. Walsh’s wife is not thrilled with her husband’s decision; because she has a pre-existing medical condition, she is now forced to hunt for a pricey individual policy. So far, Representatives Bobby Schilling (R-IL) and Mike Kelly (R-PA) have joined Walsh in turning down congressional healthcare coverage.
Representative Joseph Crowley (D-NY) called the Republicans’ bluff, writing a letter to GOP leaders asking that they refuse their federally subsidized coverage. “If your conference wants to deny millions of Americans affordable care, your members should walk that walk.” Crowley sent his letter to incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Walsh’s stated legislative goals are repealing President Obama’s healthcare legislation and making major changes to Social Security and Medicare. Additionally, Walsh believes that reducing the size, scope and power of government is an end in itself. “An end in itself,” he said. “I think we were sent to D.C. to cut spending and grow the economy. We have to talk about cutting real programs” – as well as agencies — “like the Department of Energy and Department of Education.”