Unions Threatened by New House Healthcare Provision?

The Democrat leadership of the House of Representatives now wants to pay for H.R.3200 — the House healthcare bill — by charging a tax on the so-called Cadillac healthcare plans. This surtax is something that has been talked about in the Senate and forms an integral part of the Baucus bill, but this is the first time that House leaders have broached this revenue idea for inclusion in H.R.3200.

The idea, a classic class warfare styled policy, would tax what Congress considers high-end healthcare plans, purportedly only hitting “the rich.” But it is highly possible that this “rich man’s” surtax might also apply to millions of union members that have traded pay raises for higher levels of benefits over the last decade.

This surtax idea is one of the reasons that many of the unions had been pushing for the public option. Unions chiefs felt that the surtax would unduly affect their membership and that the public option would give union members a “free” place to go if they had to cut back on benefits or what have you.

Recently the administration has been trying to step back from the public option idea in order to make passage of Obamacare easier because so many Americans have come out against the public option. Consequently, many unions have stopped pushing for the public option in deference to pressure from the White House. One exception, though, has been the AFL-CIO, likely because its membership will really be hit hard by this surtax provision. On Sept. 22, Politico reported that AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka would fight against the surtax policy.

It is hard to imagine why the unions are bending over for this so easily? If this supposed rich man’s surtax is truly instituted and it does end up affecting unions, it really would hurt their membership. Of course, many expect that Congress will put provisions in the bill (and in some cases have already) that excludes unions from this tax. Still, no matter what it is, any provision put in a bill cannot be expected to be the end of the question. What’s in this bill is not in any way binding on any future Congress and cannot prevent a future Congress from taking out the union exclusions and opening that tax right on them regardless of what the unions think will happen. Once Obamacare is passed and it is found to be many times more expensive than it is claimed it will be, Congress will be sorely tempted to take out the union exclusions no matter how much the unions spend on pliant Democrats to prevent it. It is rare, indeed, when anyone can long stand in the way of Congress in search of a tax hike.

This surtax presents the left with a moral dilemma, too. Many on the far left hate “the rich” and want to tax the heck out of them to give everyone else “free” stuff. This has been a long-time sentiment among the far left, we all know. But recently, the far left has also claimed that healthcare is a “civil right.” So here is the problem: how can Congress put a confiscatory tax on a “civil right,” even if it does affect only the so-called rich? If healthcare is a civil right, taxing it for rich people would be little different than, say, requiring rich black people to pay a high tax in order to vote while allow poorer blacks to vote without being taxed at all? A leftist that supports this high tax and thinks that healthcare is a civil right is acting the hypocrite.

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