By Newt Gingrich
When the news broke that the Obama administration was granting thousands of waivers for Obamacare and that one out of every five waivers was in Speaker Nancy Pelosi's district, I began asking audiences if they had received their waiver from Obamacare.
People knew what I was talking about. They began laughing, but no one raised their hand.
Then I asked if they agreed with this principle: "If a waiver is given to some people, it ought to be available for everyone." Virtually every hand went up in agreement in every meeting.
The Obama administration has been handing out waivers because companies would drop employee health insurance without them. Obamacare doesn't give businesses the flexibility and choice that is central to a free market. Rather, it imposes onerous mandates on what coverage businesses can offer, what services and benefits they cover, what they can charge, and how they can design their benefits.
There is something both unfair and corrupt in the Obamacare waiver system.
Having selective waivers inevitably favors one business against another.
In Pelosi's district, these favored businesses include VegiWorks, which sells "certified organic and pre-cut produce items," The Stinking Rose, a famous restaurant with locations in San Francisco and Beverly Hills, and Tru Spa, where they pamper the "modern spa goer" with "an alternative to body wraps" in their Tropical Rainforest Room. You can see a list of the 38 favored businesses in Pelosi's district here.
Why should one business get a waiver while its competitor across the street is hit by the full force and costs of Obamacare?
Similarly, why should Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's home state of Nevada get a waiver while another state has to bear the full burden of Obamacare?
This kind of favoritism continues the corruption that helped pass Obamacare in the first place. Remember the Cornhusker Kickback? Gator Aid? The Louisiana Purchase? I wrote about how corrupt the vote was on Christmas Eve 2009 when the Senate passed Obamacare in my book, To Save America, where Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi took care of their friends and potential allies while punishing their enemies.
Crony capitalism inevitably gives the government enormous influence and forces companies, states, and individuals to seek favors from politicians. Obamacare is the kind of government concentration of power that our founding fathers would have called corruption.
Yet, they did not limit the meaning of "corruption" to simply mean a bribe.
The founding fathers used corruption to mean any violation of the principle of equal treatment by using government power to help one citizen gain advantage over another. This is a key reason they wrote that "all men are created equal" in the Declaration of Independence.
Equality before the law was precisely what Americans were seeking after having endured favoritism, cronyism, and special privileges for the select few under the British Empire.
President Obama's policies begin to recreate the corruption and special favors against which Americans rebelled in the 1770s.
Fortunately, there is a solution to Obamacare cronyism: grant every American, every business, and every state a waiver so everyone is once again equal before the law.
Congressman Mike Rogers has a bill, The Health Care Waiver Fairness Act of 2011 (H.R. 984), that would grant every American a waiver. Individuals, businesses, hospitals, doctors, and many others should have the ability to obtain a blanket waiver from every rule, regulation, mandate, reimbursement cut, and tax increase.
If you agree that it is unfair for one group of Americans to receive a waiver while others remain trapped in Obamacare, you should call or write your Representative and Senators and ask them to cosponsor the Rogers bill.
The House Republicans should tie the Health Care Waiver Fairness Act into the debt ceiling debate and insist that President Obama allow every American -- not just a select few -- to escape Obamacare through a waiver.
If the compliance for Obamacare is so onerous now that more than 1300 companies need waivers, there is little doubt that when even more substantial restrictions come into place in 2014, a dramatic number of employers will seek relief through waivers -- or drop health insurance coverage and dump their employees into the public system.
If the waivers extend to January 2014, Republicans will have a year to repeal Obamacare once they win control of the White House and Senate in 2012.