Obamacare

Deal to Pass Health Care Reform Gives Union Members Preferential Treatment

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What happens when union leaders threaten to derail a major piece of Democratic legislation over a tax that would hit union health benefits hard? Obviously, Democrats will reject special interest politics and stand firm in defense of what they believe to be sound policy cut a deal giving union members special treatment. As hinted early in the week, the key part of the deal is an exemption for union members' collectively bargained health care plans. The Washington Post has the details:

A deal with the unions to tax high-cost plans would represent a major step forward, however. According to a labor source familiar with the talks, the agreement calls for a 40 percent tax surtax on policies that cost more than $24,000 for family coverage and $8,900 for individuals, a slight increase over the levels in a bill approved by the Senate on Christmas Eve. Dental and vision benefits would be exempt, and the threshold for taxation would be raised by at least $3,000 in high-cost states, for high-cost professions and for workers whose policies cost more because of their age or their gender.

Health plans negotiated on behalf of state and local workers, or as part of collective-bargaining agreements, would be exempt for five years after the 2013 effective date.

Phil Klein offers some perspective:

[What this means is that] there could be two Americans receiving the exact same benefits, but one American may be taxed and one wouldn't, and the only difference would be one of them being a member of a union. This is unseemly and unfair, even by the standards of Obamacare. It has nothing to do with policy-making. It's simply an outright bribe to a constituency that has contributed handily to Democratic campaigns.

And that bribe will most likely come at a direct cost to others. Exempting unions is expected to reduce the $150 billion in revenue the tax was supposed to raise by about $60 billion. So in order to make up for the lost revenue, it's entirely possible that Democrats will expand the Medicare payroll tax to cover investment income.

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  1. Why don’t they just create a list of who is going to get taxed? It would be more honest… If you vote republican, you are going to be taxed; If you support Obama, then hey, we’ll throw you a giant kickback at the expense of others!

  2. Maybe they will just delay the benefits even longer after they start collecting the taxes on the rest of us?

    1. Only us non-union people have to wait for our health care (while paying taxes for it).

      1. Good Morning reason!

      2. You’re right, but I am not able to sit in closed-door reconciliation meetings with people who are beholden to self-absorbed collectives. good head | blow job tutorial

  3. There’s no news here other than each compromise makes it easier to challenge this piece of shit in the courts. I fully plan to object to any tax or IRS fine related to Obama’s class project, and don’t think I’ll have a difficult time finding a lawyer who can put a stick of dynamite under any number of the bill’s provisions that create unequal treatment.

    1. Good. Luck.

      Have you seen the hideous pieces of shit disguised as legislation that the courts have deemed constitutional lately?

      1. We always have to try. I’d rather die trying than smother having failed to object.

        1. Perhaps. You seem a bit too optimistic about that course of action though.

          If this is going to be stopped, it has to be strangled in the crib right now.

          1. Strangled in the crib, what an exquisite metaphor. You’re right, but I am not able to sit in closed-door reconciliation meetings with people who are beholden to self-absorbed collectives. If this horrid Rosemary’s Baby can’t be strangled, isn’t the court system an individual’s only recourse? Even if failure outweighs the possibility of success?

            1. strangled in the crib > ruled after the fact

              The biggest downside to the second is that the courts will likely only rule small piecemeal portions of the whole steaming crapload null and void.

          2. Ordinarily I’d 100% agree that it must be stopped now, but the fact that the benefits/subsidies don’t start for four years actually gives a tiny, tiny chance to repeal it. So I only 95% agree.

  4. Democrats = crooks.

    And yes this includes every single zombie who voted for Obama.

  5. How many people said – things couldn’t possibly get worse then the previous 8 yrs under Bush.

    Yes and so much worse. We are no better then an Afican Kleptocracy.

    1. Reminds me of Mrs. Cook, the morbidly obese, borderline retarded history teacher I had in 7th grade (yes it was public school), who pronounced Africa “Affica”. She also would get winded by walking 5 steps or even talking and patted her forehead with a yellow-stained hanky.

      1. Somehow, history teachers in public schools are all short winded and out of breath all the time. Between jr and sr high I had three like that.

        I guess they find the subject of history sooooo exciting.

      2. I too had a morbidly obese history teacher in 7th (and again in 8th) grade. Her name rhymed with “whale-y” and she was on pregnancy leave for part of my two years with her. You couldn’t tell she was pregnant; afterwards, she looked the same as before. She was caught (but not fired) for looking at porn on her work computer.

        Jesus fuck I hate public schools.

    2. I actually voted for Bush both times — not because he was anything but a jerk, but because it sure looked to me like the alternatives were worse.

      Iraq and Afghanistan will eventually end, and the bills will be paid.

      ObamaCare and CarbonTaxInc are forever.

      1. it sure looked to me like the alternatives were worse.

        Saint Albert and the Gigolo? Worse than Bush?

        Damn, that’s a tough call.

        -jcr

        1. Saint Albert and the Gigolo? Worse than Bush?

          Damn, that’s a tough call.

          Not even close. I would have taken politician Al Gore (which is much different than celebrity Al Gore, but even then…) over Bush any day.

          And that’s before you take into account the fact that 8 years of Bush is WHY we have Obama and filibuster-proof Democratic Senate.

          Thanks for all this, Ebeneezer.

          1. Bush/Gore didn’t see much difference. Gore would have attacked Iraq (likely pulled out sooner). Didn’t vote for either.

            Kerry was a retard. Worse than Bush. Still didn’t vote for either.

            McCain was/is annoying and stupid. Obama’s lies were obvious after a few weeks and he came across as a very hard-core leftist/socialist. Voted against the fucker by pulling lever for McCain’s ticket. I pictured punching every Obama zombie in the head as a I did it.

            1. Gore would have attacked Iraq (likely pulled out sooner).

              I seriously don’t get how anyone could believe that. What would Gore’s motivation to abandon the search for bin Laden and go into Iraq be? His father had no unresolved issues with Saddam as far as I know.

              Kerry was a retard. Worse than Bush. Still didn’t vote for either.

              I just don’t see how he could have been any worse. If you told me in 2004 that if you voted for Kerry that he would expend hundreds of billions of dollars nationalizing banks, I would have said that there’s no way that not even the looniest socialist of a President would be able to pull that off.

              Voted against the fucker by pulling lever for McCain’s ticket. I pictured punching every Obama zombie in the head as a I did it.

              Very effective. Heck of a job, Brownie. You basically tallied an extra vote that people wanted Palin a heartbeat away from the button as much as anything.

              1. You basically tallied an extra vote that people wanted Palin a heartbeat away from the button as much as anything.

                In the same sense as Obama’s election was really just a groundswell of support for international sex symbol Joe Biden.

      2. Ya know, you don’t have to vote.

        1. I threw my vote away on the libertarians…

    3. Well, I voted for Barr, but I remember thinking and telling others that it wouldn’t really matter whether Obama or McCain won, since both were statists of different varieties but equal intensity.

      If I knew then what I know now, I would not only have voted for McCain but campaigned door to door for him until my toenails bled.

      1. Tulpa, I hate to say it, but Obama has nothing that isn’t 100% predictable before the election. He has governed (if that’s the word) exactly as you would expect a lefty academic with no administrative experience and a narrow circle of hard-left friends and advisers to govern.

      2. but I remember thinking and telling others that it wouldn’t really matter whether Obama or McCain won, since both were statists of different varieties but equal intensity.

        And I remember disagreeing with you and others here, but, hey, bygones.

  6. I know – I am obviously a racist.

  7. How could this shit possibly survive a court challenge?

    1. Well, if Obama really wants to be like his ideological sugar daddy, FDR, he’ll threaten to increase the size of the Supreme Court to get the results he wants. Now, that would be some seriously entertaining constitutional-crisis theater.

      (Citation: Robert P. Murphy, The PIG to The Great Depression and the New Deal, pages 11-12)

      1. Do you need a citation for “a switch in time, saves nine”?

      2. That’s racist.

      3. Actually FDR got quite a bit of blowback from Congress and the public over that scheme.

        1. Yes, but history is never a lesson to those who just love repeating it.

      4. I don’t think he would be allowed to do that. Not from the Whitehouse at least. It would be under siege.

    2. How could this shit possibly survive a court challenge?

      If the asset forefeiture laws can withstand 4th amendment challenges, ANYTHING can withstand a court challenge.

      Bend over suckers!

  8. “Christmas Evel”? Is that a Freudian slip?

    1. RC’s Law.

        1. Joe’s Law. Damn him where ever he is!

          1. RC’s Law is that typos are funnier than the original, or something like that.

            Joez law is that anytime you attempt to correct someones spelling or grammar, you will misspell something or make a grammatical error.

            1. Whereas Jude Law is an actor.

              1. Whereas Saint Jude is the patron saint of libertarians and hopeless causes.

            2. Just so, robc.

  9. This is bullshit! While most of my income is hidden, my insurance sure as hell isn’t! Fuck!

    1. Maybe you can get your customers to give you office visit vouchers instead of tips?

      1. Fuck that. I’ll just drop the insurance and start dating nurses.

        1. Considering how much nurses make, that should have been plan A.

        2. Considering how controlling most nurses are (occupational hazard), I would call it more of a last resort.

        3. The ex-Mrs. JW was in school to become a nurse when we ex-ed. I was really convinced that the state’s mercy killing rate was going to rise precipitously.

          The good news is that I now fear nurses more than I do clowns.

    2. Now it is all so clear. Obama is punishing all of us to get at your undeclared income.

      Thanks Naga!

  10. Go give money to Brown – it is the only chance at this point.

    1. Fuck Brown. No more big government Republicans. If that means a Democrat indistinguishable from the Republican in every way gets into office, then so be it.

      All that electing Brown will do is affirm to the Republican National Committee that they need not bother putting small government candidates on the ballot, because they’ll get the libertarian vote anyway.

      1. You don’t think standing against Obamacare, and possibly being the deciding vote against it, counts as being on the side of small government? Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

        1. Perfect? I don’t demand perfect. Hell, I would be happy with the totemic avatar of mediocrity. But Brown is Romney-lite, and that ain’t a good at all. Perhaps I should rephrase your saying as “don’t let the deplorable be the enemy of the detestable”.

          As for Obamacare, last I checked the Republican party was not a single-issue party. Besides, I’m not too sure Brown won’t vote for a Democrat healthcare bill. Not this one, but this one is dead anyway. It’s the resurrected bill that comes next that scares me.

          But it looks like Brown will win, so say hello to more big bloated buggering government. The GOP learned absolutely NOTHING during the Bush terms. I can’t believe how stupid I was quitting the Libertarians to be a Republican.

          1. Not this one, but this one is dead anyway.

            You’re delusional.

            1. They have to reconcile it, and it sounds doubtful they can do it. I think a lot of Dems are eager to tell their liberal constituency they voted for it without it actually passing and being implemented.

              1. They have to reconcile it, and it sounds doubtful they can do it.

                Really? It sounds doubtful to you? It seems to me like they’re making any deal possible to get the thing passed.

                This is as “doubtful” as TARP was, and that one actually failed a House vote before getting rammed through.

          2. Granted, all elections call for a cartoon-sized clothespin on the nose as you enter the voting booth, but if you don’t think Brown, even as a “Romney-lite,” would be friendlier to libertarian concerns than a Democrat party-liner like Coakley, I don’t think you’ve looked at them very closely.

            1. It still comes down to a douchebag versus a turd sandwich. I ain’t voting for a douchebag no matter how much he pretends to be a teabagger.

              If we can’t even keep our morality intact this early in the year, we’re all fucked come November.

              1. If we can’t even keep our morality intact this early in the year, we’re all fucked come November.

                And if we don’t hang together, we’ll all hang separately. Cliches out of the way, now?

                Refusing to vote for the lesser evil will also make us all fucked come November, just as it did November 2008.

                The problem is ultimately that not enough people agree with you (or me.) Especially not in Massachusetts. All these pipe dreams about the polity “really” being libertarian are bullshit. Look at how Tom Campbell got crushed in CA when he ran statewide.

          3. For the People’s Republic of Massholes, Brown is an extreme anti-government zealot.

          4. Brandybuck, one more Republican Senator can do nothing to pass any Republican bill that you might object to, but he can block damn near everything the Dems want to do.

            A vote of Brown is a vote for gridlock. [Warning: drink rule violation coming] Any libertarian who doesn’t vote for gridlock isn’t much of a libertarian.

      2. Can the ideal small government Republican win in Massachusetts? You do have to run a candidate who has an actual shot at appealing to the electorate.

  11. Now, that would be some seriously entertaining constitutional-crisis theater.

    Could we possibly see some seriously entertaining executive-order theater?

  12. Why don’t we just form a bloc of persons whose last names start with letters in the 1st quarter of the alphabet, and demand a deal?

    1. Because the rest of us would scream “disenfranchisement” and the Democrats would come to our rescue. Ew. No, thanks.

    2. I was just gonna post something similar. Me and the guy in the cube across from me should collectively bargain for our current deal.

      Hell, we could take a small pay cut in our bargaining and still come out way ahead.

      1. Let’s make a deal!

  13. Favor the Unions and stick it to the old people!

    What an astounding plan of action, I wonder why the Democrats didn’t run on this in 2008?

    1. Because, by next election cycle the majority of us in the US are going to be in unions, and the unions are going to vote for their sugar daddy.

      I suggest you all give serious consideration to becoming World Class Union Electricians. Or Painters. Or Carpenters. Or hell, even Bus Drivers.

      1. What does it take to become an officially recognized union, anyway? Can I form my own union, with one member and zero dues and enjoy special tax (and other) preferences for years to come? Liberals are idiots, of course, but I assume they must have seen and closed this loophole already…

        1. Missed the fine print:

          *union must be AFL-CIO, UAW, or government related to count.

          See, it even cuts down on how much it reduces the tax gains.

          1. [sigh]

            Somehow, I’m just never in the right group.

            1. Collectivism is kicking you in the balls, eh?

  14. there could be two Americans receiving the exact same benefits, but one American may be taxed and one wouldn’t, and the only difference would be one of them being a member of a union. This is unseemly and unfair

    If by “unfair”, you mean “blatantly illegal under the equal protection clause”, you’d be correct.

    -jcr

    1. Yeah, but not illegal under pretzel law.

    2. It’s not illegal under the EPC. Any citizen has the opportunity to join a union or work for the government.

      Mind you, I really hate this bill in general and this compromise in particular, but you guys can’t throw the Equal Protection Clause at everything you don’t like.

      1. And it’s not a “tax exemption for union members.” That might have more legal problems. It’s a tax exemption for collectively bargained benefits, which will pass muster.

        1. Actually, I think Equal Protection Clause applies here, because the tax treatment of the same item–health benefits–varies from individual to individual. No other directly applied tax–capital gains, ordinary income, payroll withholding, etc.–differs in application.

          1. because the tax treatment of the same item–health benefits–varies from individual to individual. No other directly applied tax–capital gains, ordinary income, payroll withholding, etc.–differs in application.

            Have you seen how railroad worker benefits are treated specially by the IRS? If you consider the massive list of specialized deductions that are out there, this really isn’t that unusual. You’re fooling yourself if you think that the courts would do anything.

            Sure, perhaps under one reading of the Equal Protection Clause all special deductions and tax treatment should be eliminated. But this new one is only one more brick in an already constructed edifice.

            1. You have a point, but I am saying the leftists are committing crony capitalism by considering the exception to the tax as a solution to the union’s objections. good head

  15. “Politicians who think that working people have it too good … are inviting a repeat of 1994,” when Republicans took control of the House after decades in the minority, said AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka.

    It would be a shame if something were to happen to your majority, Mr. President.

  16. And this is a perfect example of crony capitalism and why it occurs. This carving out exceptions to an onerous law would not be happening if the Democrat did think they could abuse the government’s authority to impose such a tax in the first place.

    It’s also important to remember that, unless they are in direct conflict, a union’s interests are aligned with their host corporation.

    1. It also is evidence of wrong-headed and outright contradictory and stupid the Democrat’s class-warfare politics are. The Senate went after “Cadillac” plans as an acceptable target. Rich plans are for rich people, right? Without caring that the rich people are their primary working class constituency. This crap would be funny if it was not coming down on the heads of the rest of us.

    2. “Crony capitalism” is a contradiction in terms. If it’s crony, it isn’t capitalism. The term itself is most often used by leftists to disparage capitalism, not defend it. Whatever the odious relationship is between big labor and Congress, what it isn’t is capitalism.

      1. You have a point, but I am saying the leftists are committing crony capitalism by considering the exception to the tax as a solution to the union’s objections. They are what they claim to despise.

    3. The unions are correct to be squawking about their health care plans being in the crosshairs, where they are being complete dicks is that they would be satisfied with throwing everbody else with such a plan to the wolves.

  17. Just givin’ back to those who hold the strings.

  18. This is wrong on so many levels.

  19. In a sense, I’m satisfied. It fully exposes the hypocrisy of the Democratic Party. How can they possibly justify this BS to the average non-union voter? The only problem being that they will be replaced by an unrepentant Republican party come election time.

  20. I realize that there are many reasons to doubt that our SCOTUS will actually defend the Constitution in any particular instance. But in this case, the equal protection issues are pretty massive.

    If they can do this, there’s nothing stopping them from passing a new tax but exempting anyone who can prove they are a registered Democrat.

    Even our corrupt and befuddled SCOTUS has to be able to see that. There are limits to how much tortured logic they can apply to deny that they see it.

    And with regard to the Brown/Coakley race – I don’t like Brown that much, and I’m sure that if he wins he’ll turn out to be a big government Republican, and I’m sure he’s really, really bad on civil liberties and war on terror issues, but all the same I wish Joe from Lowell was still here so that I could drink his tears next Tuesday. Bush was so bad that he destroyed a majority political movement – but Obama is so bad he managed to lose TEDDY KENNEDY’S SEAT.

    1. If they can do this, there’s nothing stopping them from passing a new tax but exempting anyone who can prove they are a registered Democrat.

      That’s not even remotely the same thing. The exemption is for the plan, not for the beneficiary. ie, anyone has the opportunity to have a plan through a CBA or a government organ, so there aren’t EPC issues.

      Of course, the going view of the EPC around these parts seems to be expansive enough that you can sue a state-funded hospital if they don’t give you as much ice cream as other patients after your tonsilectomy, so perhaps I’m guilty of not catering to my audience.

      1. Anyone would have the opportunity to be a registered Democrat.

        Generally with taxation, the tax follows the income. It can rise or fall based on the type of income, or based on the overall income of the person receiving the income. In this case, even if the income-equivalent benefit is the same, and even if the income of the person receiving the benefit is the same, the tax would be different based on the identity of the person receiving the benefit. And if you think that can make it by equal protection, there’s no reason my example can’t either.

        1. It can rise or fall based on the type of income, or based on the overall income of the person receiving the income. In this case, even if the income-equivalent benefit is the same, and even if the income of the person receiving the benefit is the same, the tax would be different based on the identity of the person receiving the benefit.

          What they’re going to argue is that the types of income are not the same. One is the result of a collective bargaining agreement, one is not.

          You may not think that’s significant, but it’s not all that different from deductions for only employer-paid health insurance, or exemptions from various other laws for deals following CBAs.

          Don’t like it, but it will be viewed as Constitutional.

      2. By the way:

        There should not be state-funded hospitals. So it doesn’t matter to me if their operation would be problematic under a strictly-applied notion of equal protection.

        “Gee, Fluffy, if we really applied equal protection strictly, it would make a lot of our existing institutions impossible or unwieldly!”

        Um, good.

    2. Even our corrupt and befuddled SCOTUS has to be able to see that. There are limits to how much tortured logic they can apply to deny that they see it.

      (snicker) You’re not actually keeping a straight face while you type that, are you? 😉

  21. it’s certainly an interesting theory. if a tax exemption for union members is constitutional, then a special tax on union members only would be constitutional as well and I’m looking at you SEIU.

    1. The tax affects the plans. Plans obtained through a collective bargaining agreement are not subject to taxation. It still stinks to high heaven.

  22. Lets tax government workers to balance the budget. If cutting their pensions is unconstitutional (according to MNG), lets just tax the crap out of them.

    Tax hikes are always OK.

    1. Do government employees really pay taxes, or do they just give their employer a rebate on their salaries?

  23. how about challenging this on the grounds that it is clearly not in the government’s police power. All these federal laws and regulations, while being “constitutional” because of the commerce clause and the general welfare clause, still fall under the federal government’s police power, which is the power to regulate behavior of its citizens to promote public welfare, security, health, and safety. A law exempting union workers from a tax clearly does no such thing. Are non-union workers less important somehow? Do they not count as much in the “general welfare”? This exemption is being offered solely as a concession to powerful lobbyists to get the Obama’s healthcare overhaul passed – how the hell can it be for the general welfare?

    It’s as clear as day and yet I still think the supreme court would say that the tax exemption is constitutional

  24. what the country really needs is for just one democratic senator to fall ill, break a hip, take a leave of absence, enter rehab, or get arrested for a serious crime for which he cannot post bail.

    here’s to luck being on our side!

  25. Ballot box.

    Jury box.

    Cartridge box.

    The first two aren’t working.

    Will Americans ever have the guts again to put their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” on the line for freedom? Or was 1776 a one-time only deal?

    Better start thinking about it, and letting them know it just might get to that, otherwise the tyrants will just grow bolder.

    1. I am already stocking up on ammo, food, water and other “tactical” gear and equipment. Viva La Revolution!

  26. Will Americans ever have the guts again to put their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” on the line for freedom? Or was 1776 a one-time only deal?

    You first.

  27. gee – you mean special interest groups sometimes influence legislation? shocking. who would have ever thunk it. the posts here by and large seem to have a problem with reality.
    what y’all should be whining about is that the republicans have done very little to help shape this bill, when they had plenty of opportunity to do so. of course that might require some real ideas…something republicans seem to be lacking. of course it’s always easier to complain when you don’t contribute.

    1. nobody here wants any bill passed period, retard

      and we’re complaining because it’s UNCONSTITUTIONAL – remember, the constitution, that document that lays out the legal foundation for this country? Remember?

    2. the people that have the big problem with reality has to be your hero the Democrates. The American people have been loud and clear that they do not want what they are cooking in Washington 2 to 1. You may also want to consider a reality check as well. The Republicans have been kept out of all negotiations on the healthcare bill. But like all Liberals you have to lie to make your reality.

  28. So form or join a union.Strength in numbers-whats new about that?

  29. Unions only serve to their lowest common denominator. They never reward the people who strive for greatness. they are a drag on society. The are only for average at best. Another words Socialism. Individual rights, Freedom is what makes this the greatest country ever. A union will never make you rich. A union never came up with an original idea. Wake up America before its too late.

  30. It makes sense that union members have tax breaks when it comes to national health insurance; after all they’ve trying for decades to get healthcare for everybody with no success

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  32. Preferential treatment? Outrageous!

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