creators.com opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
Linda Chavez
Linda Chavez
29 Aug 2014
An Honest Conversation on Race

After weeks of national angst generated when a white police officer shot an unarmed black man on the streets … Read More.

22 Aug 2014
Fanning the Flames of Racial Tension

Words matter — and never more so than when race is involved. For more than a week, we have been … Read More.

8 Aug 2014
Medicare Solution

Next week I'm scheduled for a cervical spinal fusion that costs upward of $100,000, but I won't be paying for it.… Read More.

Unions Calling in Their Chits

Comment

"That's not the change America voted for." The implied criticism of President Obama comes not from Rush Limbaugh or Fox News but from the AFL-CIO in a newspaper ad this week letting the president and congressional Dems know unions' "bottom line for health care reform." The unions are calling in their chits. If health care legislation doesn't include a public option, they won't support it. And if it does include a tax on so-called gold-plated plans, they'll oppose it.

No wonder White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has been meeting behind closed doors with Democrats trying to craft a final bill. He's more afraid of a few union bosses than he is the thousands of voters who have flocked to town hall meetings to oppose health care reform. Without the unions and their money, no Democrat can win the White House and Democratic control of the House and Senate might slip away.

The irony is that unions helped create the health care mess in the first place. Ever wonder why most Americans receive their health insurance through work? After all, we don't get our home or car insurance through our employers. Nor do most employers pay directly for other essentials like housing or food.

Our current employer-provided health insurance dates back to World War II, when FDR's National War Labor Board tried to impose wage and price controls to stem inflation during the war boom years. But the board found it easier to impose price controls than effective wage controls since it was possible to simply shift pay increases from cash into employer-provided benefits like health insurance. Such benefits were exempt from the board's control and weren't subject to taxes, making employer-provided health insurance even more attractive.

As a result, unions began demanding generous health care benefits as part of their bargaining strategy, which is why so many of the Cadillac health care plans cover unionized workers — literally since the kind of plan envisioned is exactly what General Motors provided its workers.

But what was bad for America was bad for General Motors, to turn an old adage on its head. GM's estimated $54 billion in health care obligations for its retired unionized workers helped drive the company into bankruptcy, from which it was only able to emerge by giving away 17.5 percent of the company's stock to the United Autoworkers' health trust fund.

But having employers buy health insurance for their employees never made good sense. For one thing, it made it difficult for an employee to change jobs without risking losing health care coverage. It also made it harder for individuals to choose the kind of care they wanted — or to know what they were actually paying for when they went to the doctor's office. Lack of choice means that many people will pay for benefits they don't want or will never use. And third-party payment means doctors and their patients rarely have discussions about the costs of fees or tests — driving up health care spending.

So now the unions want to have their cake and eat it, too. They want to make sure that those generous health care plans they demanded at the bargaining table still receive the same tax break all others do, while insisting that the government pick up the tab for those who can't afford the costs of health care they helped drive up. Of course the only way to pay for the latter — without forcing the country ever further into debt — is to tax the former.

The unions are no fools either. They know that the proposed 40 percent excise tax on insurance companies in the Senate Finance Committee-passed bill will be paid for by policy holders one way or another. Insurance companies will pass the costs on to employers, who, in turn, will either take it out of employees' pay or shift to lower-cost plans.

Democrats — including the president — can try to appease unions by passing a health care reform bill that can't possibly pay for itself. But following the unions' advice will be a bad bargain. Just look what caving into the unions did to GM: first the company went bankrupt, then it ended up owned by the unions. Is America next?

Linda Chavez is the author of "An Unlikely Conservative: The Transformation of an Ex-Liberal." To find out more about Linda Chavez, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS.COM



Comments

1 Comments | Post Comment
Linda is a sycophant since Ronald Reagan created her. According to her no corporation has ever done anything wrong. Fact of the matter GM opposed plans to rid itself of the health insurance burden. Until the 1960's their was a industrial socialism made possible by the fact that American was the only country in the world that didn't have it's means of production destroyed during WW2. Truman, Nixon, Clinton, Johnson all tried to create a health care industry instead of the current health insurance industry and Republicans and business all opposed it. In true fashion they raised the "socialism" mantra on behalf of the insurance industry, never disclosing this as their reason for opposing health care. Linda is the same shill she's been for over 30 years never contributing just being a paid for whiner by the corporations.
Comment: #1
Posted by: kien lusk
Sat Oct 24, 2009 6:39 AM
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right:  
Creators.com comments policy
More
Linda Chavez
Aug. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
27 28 29 30 31 1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Authorís Podcast
Walter Williams
Walter E. WilliamsUpdated 3 Sep 2014
Thomas Sowell
Thomas SowellUpdated 2 Sep 2014
Froma Harrop
Froma HarropUpdated 2 Sep 2014

25 Sep 2009 Immigrant Values

11 Nov 2011 Arizona Bids Adios to Illegal Immigrant Basher

9 Jul 2010 Expand Educational Opportunity, Don't Restrict It