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February 04, 2013

Unions Wake Up, Smell Coffee


John Wilhelm was one of the millions of Americans who took President Obama at his word when the then-candidate talked about health care during the 2008 presidential race. He recalled the president's words during a Nevada rally that year.

"I heard him say, 'If you like your health plan, you can keep it,' " Wilhelm recently told the Wall Street Journal. "If I'm wrong, and the president does not intend to keep his word, I would have severe second thoughts about the law."

That is a significant issue for Wilhelm, who is the chairman of UNITE HERE Health, the insurance plan for 260,000 service-sector union workers. It is beginning to look like more and more employers will either cut back coverage or drop it altogether as the administration's new health care mandates make those private insurance plans uneconomical.

That leaves the unions -- which, remember, were Obama' allies in the getting the bill passed in the first place -- in a bad situation. Negotiating with employers over health care coverage is one of the main benefits they provide their members. As one union official told the Journal: "If we're not offering our members insurance and pension, why would you want to be union?" Quite so.

Big Labor's solution to this is to pressure the administration to extend subsidies to the type of health care plans jointly managed by unions and employers. In other words, the unions want the administration literally to pay off unionized companies not to drop their coverage.

The administration is resisting. Those subsidies would cause the cost of Obamacare to balloon at the very moment officials are trying to keep already skyrocketing costs under control. They already threw Big Labor a big bone by exempting union-run health insurance plans from a high-end "Cadillac tax" until 2018. For everyone else, the tax kicks in this year.

Moreover, if the administration gives in to Big Labor on the subsidies, it's going to have to explain to other employers why they cannot get the same break.

Posted by Cassandra at February 4, 2013 07:55 AM

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'Nother day, 'nother revelation for the dopes. Since the election I've adopted a watchers's attitude - really sort of helpless complacency - that demands nothing of me but to stand by and watch the light bulbs flicker on one at a time.

Posted by: spd rdr at February 4, 2013 09:51 AM

There's a lot to be said for the power of the object lesson :p

Sometimes I think it's the only thing that has any power against the near-universal "my team/your team" defensive huddle we seem mired in these days.

Posted by: Cass at February 4, 2013 10:08 AM

Gored by the horns of the Minotaur they esteemed. Nemesis is fully booked for the foreseeable future.

Posted by: George Pal at February 4, 2013 10:29 AM

Pray I do not further alter this deal !

Posted by: Darth Hussein Obama Vader at February 4, 2013 12:12 PM

Since the election I've adopted a watchers's attitude - really sort of helpless complacency - that demands nothing of me but to stand by and watch the light bulbs flicker on one at a time.

"Helpless complacency" is perfectly put - and I love the flickering imagery. I think about sending articles like this to my liberal friends then don't. If I send the article, my friends will resist, argue, come up with reasons why it's not really the way it looks. I figure if I just sit back and let the reality become apparent, they'll eventually figure it out. Especially if the reality becomes apparent by jumping up and biting them rather than the guy down the street who has to suffer for the greater good.

Posted by: Elise at February 4, 2013 06:13 PM

I'm hoping that people eventually see the light, rather than just throw around blame at everyone but themselves and lash out at favorite enemies (no matter how irrationally) when everything comes crashing down, but I'm not sure I expect it anymore. The drunk at rock bottom doesn't always have an epiphany in the gutter; sometimes he merely dies there. Hopefully they don't take the rest of us with them.

Posted by: Matt at February 4, 2013 06:25 PM

It's funny, Matt. Both my oldest friend and my husbands are lifelong Democrats, and lately we agree on a LOT of things.

But they still vote Dem. And we still vote Rethug. I'm not quite sure what to make of that, really. A Dem friend at work told me he wasn't sure he could vote for Obama this time around.

I have never had the guts to ask him how he did vote, but then that's probably inappropriate in the workplace anyway :p

Posted by: Cass at February 4, 2013 06:28 PM

I laughed when I read this:

Both my oldest friend and my husbands...

Polyandry right here at VC! And, worse yet, with lifelong Democrats. One Democratic husband is bad enough, but multiples? :+)

I wonder if the "agree on a lot but vote for different parties" is about:

- some people think there's no difference between the parties.

- Dems don't know what the Repubs are all about (or perhaps vice versa :+)

- the Republican brand is irretrievably damaged.

I think the last possibility is one I see in my liberal friends. The idea of voting Republican is simply unthinkable.

Posted by: Elise at February 4, 2013 07:30 PM

Polyandry right here at VC!

Well Cass HAS stated on multiple occasions that she loves men. I guess we just didn't take it literally enough.

Posted by: MikeD at February 5, 2013 08:45 AM

For want of an apostrophe, the thread was lost...


Posted by: CAPT Mongo at February 5, 2013 10:02 AM