The following is a letter to the editor, written by Carolyn Schaeffer, chair of the Yates County Democratic Commitee. It has been submitted to some district newspapers.
Once again we see that Tom Reed’s actions do not match his rhetoric. For months he has taken issue with the employer contribution that members of Congress and their staffs receive under the Affordable Care Act –a contribution to help cover health care costs that is similar to what most major companies offer their employees. He even sponsored a bill to eliminate this “special treatment” (a very unpopular bill with the underpaid congressional staffers on both sides of the aisle). Now, not surprisingly, Tom Reed is taking the very benefit he spent weeks fighting. His reason, according to a spokesperson: “Obamacare is the law……Tom Reed is complying with it as written.”
Is it possible that Tom Reed doesn’t understand that he is not mandated to apply for a benefit? Social Security is a law, but I don’t have to apply for the benefit. Medicare is the law, but I don’t have to apply for the benefit. STAR tax abatement is the law, but I don’t have to apply for the benefit. The Affordable Care Act is the law, but Tom Reed doesn’t have to take the employee benefit.
However, the problem is not in taking the benefit—the problem is in railing against it as “special treatment,” in misleading voters about its purpose, and in sponsoring legislation to eliminate it. And then—after all is said and done—cagily enjoying what he would deny others.
Is there anything that Tom Reed believes deeply enough to withstand the pull of his wallet? Ethical behavior requires consistency between how we treat ourselves and how we treat others; that means, extending to everyone the same respect and consideration that we claim for ourselves.
If Tom Reed doesn’t have the conviction of his own beliefs, I suggest he would be best served by silence in the future.