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  • Trumka Talks Tough, But Will Obama Listen?

    Labor union leaders made a trip to the White House yesterday to hear President Obama’s latest pitch for health care legislation. But judging from remarks earlier in the day from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, the meeting wasn’t a typical administration powwow with Big Labor.

    Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, Trumka outlined his strong opposition to the Senate bill’s 40 percent tax on “Cadillac” health insurance packages — the kind union officials negotiate for themselves and their members. After his speech, Trumka was among 10 labor leaders invited to meet with Obama, who supports the tax measure as a way to raise money.

    The tax issue remains one of six key differences between the House and Senate health care bills. It’s clearly a big issue for Big Labor — drawing scorn from the Communications Workers of America and National Education Association as well — but it remains to be seen if their lobbying can change minds.

    Even though Obama criticized Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) during the 2008 campaign for wanting to lift the tax exemption on employer plans, the White House has expressed its openness to the Senate proposal. SEIU President Andy Stern, a frequent White House visitor, acknowledged it would be difficult to sway Obama.

    Trumka stopped short of saying the AFL-CIO would oppose a final bill, but he made clear the union would continue fighting the Senate’s tax provision:

    [T]hanks to the Senate rules, the appalling irresponsibility of the Senate Republicans and the power of the wealthy among some Democrats, the Senate bill instead drives a wedge between the middle class and the poor. The bill rightly seeks to ensure that most Americans have health insurance. But instead of taxing the rich, the Senate bill taxes the middle class by taxing workers’ health plans–not just union members’ health care; most of the 31 million insured employees who would be hit by the excise tax are not union members.

    The tax issue is just one factor that could sour Big Labor’s relationship with the White House. Trumka clearly favors the more liberal House bill, which includes a public plan and employer mandate. But for House and Senate leaders to strike a deal, lawmakers would almost certainly need to make concessions that agitate leaders like Trumka. Other major issues up for negotiation include penalties of an individual mandate, expansion of the Medicaid entitlement and taxpayer funding for abortion.

    With many labor leaders also frustrated by the lack of progress on the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act, the health care negotiations only complicate the White House’s relationship with an important ally. Trumka warned of a scenario that could result in a repeat of the GOP’s 1994 electoral triumph:

    In 1992, workers voted for Democrats who promised action on jobs, who talked about reining in corporate greed and who promised health care reform. Instead, we got NAFTA, an emboldened Wall Street — and not much more. We swallowed our disappointment and worked to preserve a Democratic majority in 1994 because we knew what the alternative was. But there was no way to persuade enough working Americans to go to the polls when they couldn’t tell the difference between the two parties. Politicians who think that working people have it too good – too much health care, too much Social Security and Medicare, too much power on the job — are inviting a repeat of 1994.

    Posted in Scribe [slideshow_deploy]

    14 Responses to Trumka Talks Tough, But Will Obama Listen?

    1. stirling, Pennsylvan says:

      This president is Pro Labor Unions and Anti-Business (If it wasn't so our economy would be rebounding already). So who is to say the president isn't just cutting annother "sweetheart" deal for his Union buddies at the detriment of the rest of us by having this meeting. And btw the healthcare bill is still not consitutional, which would make most of this a non-issue.

    2. Lloyd Scallan - New says:

      Just another ploy by Obama. By this point in time, I sincerely hope everyone

      knows just how devious and down-right dishonest Obama is. The union will

      do whatever Obama tell them. Again, this is just another distraction to devert

      our attention away from the under the table deals that are continuing to be made.

    3. Paul L Balaich, Auro says:

      The same old story – money talks and bull crap walks. Both Obama and ranking union officials talk out of both sides of their mouths. Regardless of what Americans thinks about National Health Care (the majority oppose), the political community will go where the money comes from. Hopefully in 2010 voters across America will exercise term limits through their votes at the voting booth and send the message that politicians work for the people and just not for the people or organizations that have deep pockets.

    4. Forrest Stanaland Te says:

      The unions can not afford to continue funding of the cadilac insurance plans. They know it and Obama knows it. So what we are seeing is simple posturing for a reason to get the government to fund the plans. Unions will blame that irresponsible congress for the heavy tax on the plans, and subsequently admit that the plans can't be funded. The union members will be fourced into a gov. provided plan, causing the rest of America to pick up the tab. The members will still get to pay the dues to the fat cat bosses. The union bosses will go along with this because Obama will work on their behalf to push for card check. Great world isn't it. By the way, none of the factions mentioned, Obama, union bosses, nor congress members have ever held a productive private sector job. Concerns me that America has let these dogs out.

    5. philip hilliker says:

      The unions should not be given pryority over the rest of americans on health care coast if we are going to be taxed their should be no cut deals for the unions just because they support a cadidate of any party with the dues of it members. They should pay the cadilac tax like every one else . No deals for the unions

    6. Lynn Bryant DeSpain says:

      Once again all of the Jackals are fighting over the bones of America. This is why Socialism does not work! Everyone wants everyone else to be equal, but most want to be more eqaul than the rest.

      Politicians and Unions alike, must learn to leave our Republic along with its Stone Foundation, the Constitution, untouched, unchanged, not altered, and left alone.

      We are Americans, and function at our best as such, with the emphasis on 'ican.', not, 'they need to—.'

    7. Pingback: Election Year Meets Health Care Debate – Blog Watch

    8. Drew Page, IL says:

      Of course the unions don't want the tax on cadillac health plans. That's because the unions all have cadillac health plans. It's one of the reasons that the U.S. auto industry is no longer competitive in the world today.

      Those cadillac health plans, and lush pension plans, were taken into retirement by auto workers and American car makers are saddled with this continuing expense today. Because of these retirement expenses, it costs American car makers about $77.00 dollars an hour to continue producing automobiles. Foreign owned car makers with factories in the U.S., hiring American workers, can produce an automobile for about $53.00 an hour precisely because they do not have to meet the burden of these retiree health and pension benefits.

      It was yesterday's UAW members themselves who killed the goose that laid the golden egg. They are the reason that the big three lost market share. So why isn't Michael Moore doing an expose` called the UAW and Me? Wwhy isn't Michael Moore stalking the head of the UAW and badgering him with questions like "Don't you think you owe all of the unemployed auto workers of this country an apology sir?" or, "Can you explain to the unemployed auto workers of today why they shouldn't be upset at UAW tactics over the past 50 years that cost them their jobs today?" Maybe Michael could interview the head of the UAW in his own hometown of Flint, MI.

    9. Earl Visser, Lincoln says:

      Produce something each day. Recondial the pionneering spirit. Develeop a trust in yourself that is based on God/Jesus Christ/the holy spirit.

    10. Earl Visser, Lincoln says:

      Produce a product each day. Redevelop the pioneering spirit. Develop a personal responsiabilty based on a faith in God/Jesus Christ/The Holy Spirit.

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    12. Paullette, Wisconsin says:

      So now I'm reading on recent posts that Pelosi and the unions struck a deal which exempts them from the tax which the rest of us have to pay! NO EQUALITY UNDER THIS UNDERHANDED LAW ! Things get worse instead of better when the crook hole up in the back room and make deals.

    13. Lloyd Welch Valdese, says:

      All these arugements are moot because the monster called Health Care Reform is totally unconstitutional and should be interned in a shallow grave on the White House lawn. We need to return to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as our form of governance. I cannot say it enough. What made this country the envy of the world is our one of a kind in human history Constitution.

    14. Obama Listen to us, says:

      America needs jobs, not healthcare Americans are homless and suffering


      This is not ok OBAMA

      China secures portions of job stimulus package for 3000 workers for green energy project, China got made because US steel used for project.

      India works with large corporations to reduce prices to secure portions of job stimulus package for India’s works.

      This is because there was not safety net preventing corporations from taking these funds over sees to create new jobs over seas the job stimulus package only stated that it create new jobs not that it create new jobs for Americans.

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