US health care debate: Labor rifts go public

3 posts / 0 new
Last post
US health care debate: Labor rifts go public

From the "don't take us for granted file"...

AFSCME's Gerry McEntee Takes on White House

The president of one of America's largest labor unions, Gerry McEntee, has emerged as a major obstacle to the White House's efforts to maintain a unified front in the health care debate...
The veteran president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) has crossed lines that few labor leaders - even those who quietly agree with him - would go near.
McEntee led workers in chanting a barnyard epithet to describe Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus's health care bill, which would levy a new tax on expensive health care plans. He published an op-ed in U.S.A. Today warning, in terms that could be used against Democrats in the midterms, that the plan could tax the middle class and cost workers their health care. And he blew off a plea from White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and published an open letter promising to "oppose" legislation that contained the tax - published over the objections, several labor officials said, of other union presidents whose names appeared on the letter...

From labor to civil libertarians to anti-war activists, progressive organizers have had to choose between biting their tongues and losing the access and power that comes with friends in the White House. McEntee is among the most prominent leaders who has been willing to challenge the administration.




McEntee's editorial sounds pretty reasonable:

Taxing high-cost insurance plans to fund health care reform is a bad idea. In fact, it could threaten the medical insurance plans of middle-class workers who obtain coverage from their employers. For many of them, especially those in states with high medical costs, there is nothing "gold-plated" about their health coverage.  In the end, while claiming to target gold-plated or Cadillac plans, this tax-raising scheme essentially is asking the middle class to pay for the health care for those who are currently uninsured. In an era of rising wealth inequality and stagnant middle-class wages, this tax would make health care less affordable for working families and ultimately inhibit economic growth while giving the wealthy a virtual free ride.


Instead of increasing the burden on working men and women by labeling their medical insurance "gold-plated," why not finance health care reform by looking at those who really have gold-plated plans?

Or, why not place a small surtax on the wealthy, whose taxes were cut so significantly under President George W. Bush? Why not apply the Medicare tax to unearned income that the very wealthy collect in interest and dividends on their investments? Why not limit deductions for itemized expenses or eliminate the subsidies we give to the insurance industry?

The wealthiest nation in the world should be able to provide high quality, affordable health care for all without adding to the burden on working families.

He also points out that more expensive health care plans are sometimes that way because the risk pool is older; e.g., public sector workers.

Considering the virulent, vicious opposition Obama has been facing, he may has well have bitten the bullet and pursued the much more equitable single payer plan.  His half-measures only perpetuate the inequities in American health care.


Unfortunately labour sometimes has its sellouts. They usually end up in the Canadian Senate or something like that, don't they. Tongue out