Labor unions continue falling out of love with ObamaCare. Today’s dash of heartbreak comes from no less than James P. Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, in a dour letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, both Democrats. (What, you couldn’t even cc: House Speaker John Boehner on this thing, Mr. Hoffa? He is Harry Reid’s opposite number in the House, not Pelosi. I guess the unions have a keen sense of which politicians they own.)
Hoffa’s letter is cosigned by the presidents of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and UNITE-HERE (which includes hotel and casino employees, and might therefore expect Nevada’s Harry Reid to pay attention when it clears its throat.) As with every single union complaint I’ve seen, this one kicks off with a pointed reminder of Barack Obama’s long-ago promise that we could all keep our health care plans if we liked them. Unions are generally quite fond of their health-care plans.
When you and the President sought our support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you pledged that if we liked the health plans we have now, we could keep them. Sadly, that promise is under threat. Right now, unless you and the Obama Administration enact an equitable fix, the ACA will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.
Like millions of other Americans, our members are front-line workers in the American economy. We have been strong supporters of the notion that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care. We have also been strong supporters of you. In campaign after campaign we have put boots on the ground, gone door-to-door to get out the vote, run phone banks and raised money to secure this vision.
Now this vision has come back to haunt us.
Oh, yes, they know which politicians they own. They kept the receipts.
Since the ACA was enacted, we have been bringing our deep concerns to the Administration, seeking reasonable regulatory interpretations to the statute that would help prevent the destruction of non-profit health plans. As you both know first-hand, our persuasive arguments have been disregarded and met with a stone wall by the White House and the pertinent agencies. This is especially stinging because other stakeholders have repeatedly received successful interpretations for their respective grievances. Most disconcerting of course is last week???s huge accommodation for the employer community???extending the statutorily mandated ???December 31, 2013??? deadline for the employer mandate and penalties.
Time is running out: Congress wrote this law; we voted for you. We have a problem; you need to fix it. The unintended consequences of the ACA are severe. Perverse incentives are already creating nightmare scenarios.
You’ve got to love that gruff union-boss talk. “We have a problem; you need to fix it.” Now I can’t stop thinking about how much I miss James Gandolfini.
Looks like the union bosses noticed that Obama’s new unconstitutional super-power to rewrite legislation was deployed for the benefit of employers, while individuals and organized employees were left to suffer through the ObamaCare train wreck when that fireball comes rolling through the station, right on schedule.
The first of the nightmare scenarios Hoffa and company mention is the one liberals were telling us was a figment of greedy capitalist imaginations just a few months ago. Remember how they sneered and said anyone who cut full-time hours because of ObamaCare was a bumbling tightwad who lacks the business acumen of snotty liberal editorial writers?
First, the law creates an incentive for employers to keep employees??? work hours below 30 hours a week. Numerous employers have begun to cut workers??? hours to avoid this obligation, and many of them are doing so openly. The impact is two-fold: fewer hours means less pay while also losing our current health benefits.
Second, millions of Americans are covered by non-profit health insurance plans like the ones in which most of our members participate. These non-profit plans are governed jointly by unions and companies under the Taft-Hartley Act. Our health plans have been built over decades by working men and women. Under the ACA as interpreted by the Administration, our employees will treated differently and not be eligible for subsidies afforded other citizens. As such, many employees will be relegated to second-class status and shut out of the help the law offers to for-profit insurance plans.
And finally, even though non-profit plans like ours won???t receive the same subsidies as for-profit plans, they???ll be taxed to pay for those subsidies. Taken together, these restrictions will make non-profit plans like ours unsustainable, and will undermine the health-care market of viable alternatives to the big health insurance companies.
The union bosses are still willing to subject the rest of us to ObamaCare, if their complaints can be met. I’d love to see their ideas for reversing the hard-coded ObamaCare incentives for dumping full-time jobs, without repealing the entire misbegotten program, but no such specifics were forthcoming in this particular letter. The conclusion does make it sound like ObamaCare is working on their last nerve:
On behalf of the millions of working men and women we represent and the families they support, we can no longer stand silent in the face of elements of the Affordable Care Act that will destroy the very health and wellbeing of our members along with millions of other hardworking Americans.
We believe that there are common-sense corrections that can be made within the existing statute that will allow our members to continue to keep their current health plans and benefits just as you and the President pledged. Unless changes are made, however, that promise is hollow.
We continue to stand behind real health care reform, but the law as it stands will hurt millions of Americans including the members of our respective unions.
We are looking to you to make sure these changes are made.
Remember, this letter is addressed to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, the power-hungry boobs who rammed ObamaCare through without reading it. Pelosi, who was Speaker of the House at the time, was quite chipper about it. Just yesterday, Reid said he thinks ObamaCare has been “wonderful for America.” This led Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) to wonder why we need all those delays and waivers from such a wonderful law.
Too bad you and your gigantic army of staffers and managerial assistants didn’t read ObamaCare before supporting it, Mr. Hoffa! And really, are you still naive enough to think this collapse of private plans, including union benefits, wasn’t always part of the plan? Obama’s goal is to send as many Americans as possible tumbling into the gutters of the public exchanges, which will overload and detonate under the stress, paving the way for single-payer socialized medicine.
These union bosses are wasting their time appealing to their bought-and-paid-for Democrats. Socialized medicine is the great brass ring of statism. Many Democrats have already paid with their political careers to grab for it. The only hope for saving those nice union health plans lies with the Republican Party and the ObamaCare repeal movement. We need to sweep the debris of President Obama’s hellish mistake aside, and get to work on real reforms. If grumbling about hollow promises and the destruction of American well-being from the Democrats’ richest and most powerful allies puts more wind in the sails of repeal, this angry letter from top union leaders might just do some good. Despite all the money and manpower unions invested in keeping Harry Reid in office, he’s not going to listen to them on ObamaCare… but folks like Ted Cruz and John Boehner will.