In the throes of an oftentimes seemingly hopeless debate over the government shutdown and the national debt limit, Beltway insiders have found a bit of levity on Tuesday by going “Full Vitter.”
The term, originally uttered by NBC News congressional correspondent Luke Russert, references a proposal from Sen. David Vitter to limit federal subsidies for health care.
Going "Full Vitter" would prohibit members of Congress, their staff and administration heads from receiving any federal subsidies or employer contributions to pay for their health care plans, and it would force them onto the health insurance exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act.
The proposal has ignited a storm of parody messages on Twitter from both sides of the political aisle. The term has taken on a comical meaning stemming from Vitter's involvement in the “D.C. Madam” scandal, in which it was later revealed that Vitter had engaged in sexual relations with a prostitute.
And while going "Full Vitter" has resulted in a lot of laughs for reporters, Hill staffers and the public at large, it's also managed to ignite some serious debate. The proposal has generated enough attention that it even elicited a response from President Barack Obama, who reportedly told Democratic House members on Tuesday that he would veto any debt ceiling legislation that includes Vitter's proposal.
On the serious side of the debate, some members of the Beltway media have said that implementation of Vitter's proposal would have the net effect of reducing congressional salaries:
Predicting a lot of jobs openings on Capitol Hill if the #FullVitter language passes in these bills.— Anthony Adragna (@aadragna) October 15, 2013
Meanwhile, Cox Radio congressional reporter Jamie Dupree says the Congressional Budget Office estimates that going "Full Vitter" could increase costs to the Affordable Care Act:
CBO has found the Vitter Amendment would increase cost of health exchange subsidies by $530 million over 10 years— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) October 15, 2013
And while that might sound like a painful possibility for government workers across the aisle, Washington Examiner correspondent David M. Drucker said the "Full Vitter" is essentially nothing more than an intellectual exercise at this point:
RT @JoshuaGreen: Rest assured, GOP staffers, Sen. Klobuchar told me "no way" Senate agrees to Vitter Amendment.— David M. Drucker (@DavidMDrucker) October 15, 2013
But “Full Vitter” had led to plenty of humorous takes as well. For example, an account built as an ongoing parody of “The Big Lebowski” character portrayed by actor Jeff Bridges states:
Even some conservatives are having fun with the term, including Red State editor Erick Erickson:
I'm pretty sure Miley Cyrus is planning on doing the full Vitter at her next concert.— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) October 15, 2013
And as for the originator of the “Full Vitter” meme? Luke Russert has a simple message for the masses: “You’re welcome.”