Bear in mind that Big Labor went to bat for ObamaCare in a big way throughout the months-long debate over its passage. When Tea Party activists demonstrated to raise opposition to the legislation, unions like the Teamsters counterprotested, sometimes violently, in an attempt to intimidate conservatives into acquiescence. Unions spent big money in the 2010 election hoping to protect Democrats from the consequences of their votes on ObamaCare, arguing that the bill would help the working class by sticking it to insurers and fat cats.
Now that the law is about to be implemented, though, it suddenly looks awful to union leaders like Teamsters president James Hoffa, UFCW president Joseph Hanson, and UNITE-HERE president D. Taylor. The Wall Street Journal published a letter on Friday that the union leaders sent to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi expressing shock, shock that a massive and expensive government intervention would screw up the labor market:
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.
Well, they’re certainly not alone in that. But what part of “massive government intervention” didn’t they figure out the first time around? The letter explains:
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.
Maybe if they’d listened to Tea Party activists instead of shouting them down, the union leaders might have figured this out in 2009. Opponents of the bill argued all along that the incentives presented by ObamaCare would kill employer-based coverage, either by depressing hiring or by depressing hours. We’ve gotten both since the bill’s passage, just as critics predicted.
Next, the union leaders are shocked, shocked to discover that the tax consequences of so-called “Cadillac plans” apply to Obama’s allies:
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.
Excuse me, but this was even more obvious than the employment consequences. Subsidies are only available to consumers in the individual insurance exchanges. Union health plans are group plans (and partly employer coverage, as the letter points out). They’re no more eligible for subsidies than consumers in employer plans, and they’ll get taxed just like all other “Cadillac” group plans. This is only news to those who manned the barricades rather than reading the fine print, or really any print at all.
The union leaders who signed this letter should all resign in disgrace — not because of the letter itself, but because the letter implicitly admits that they’ve been nothing but shills for the administration’s agenda without any thought of how those policies would impact membership. They spent millions of dollars collected from those workers to make their lives worse.
But the letter does offer one benefit to the trio — it makes them eligible for a Captain Louis Renault Award: