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Author Topic: Union workers get their exemption
G2
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First it was the Amish, now it's unions:
quote:
Big Labor got some big love from President Obama and congressional Democrats yesterday after they agreed to exempt union workers from the whopping “Cadillac tax” on high-cost health-care plans until 2018.
The sweetheart deal, hammered out behind closed doors, will save union employees at least $60 billion over the years involved, while others won't be as lucky -- they'll have to cough up almost $90 billion.
The 40 percent excise tax on what have come to be called "Cadillac" health-care plans would exempt collective-bargaining contracts covering government employees and other union members until Jan. 1, 2018.


In another major concession to labor, the value of dental and vision plans would be exempt from the tax even after the deal expires in eight years, negotiators said.

Officials said the deal was thrashed out over more than 15 hours of negotiating at the White House that ended after midnight Wednesday.
Powerful unions were well-represented around the bargaining table.
Participants included AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Andy Stern, head of Service Employees International Union; Anna Burger, head of Change to Win; and the leaders of unions representing teachers, government workers, food and commercial workers, and electricians.


Ahh, payback for support and a down payment on support in the future ... all brought to you by the most transparent administration evah! Remember when Obama supporters just knew the era of back room deals was over? God, you guys were played.
quote:
Originally, the Cadillac tax included in the Senate bill was estimated to raise $149 billion through 2019.

But Trumka said the exemption would reduce that amount by $60 billion -- money that negotiators will now have to find elsewhere, or reduce the coverage in the legislation.

OK, once everyone id s done laughing at the ridiculous idea of a reduction in coverage - they're not going to reduce their power through reduced influence - think about where that $60 billion is going to come from.

I wonder who's next to get the under the table special from Obama?

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tonylovern
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quote:
Remember when Obama supporters just knew the era of back room deals was over?
that's pretty transparent. most backroom deals aren't. as soon as you find evidence of something that's not covered in the MSM, let us know. it's not much of a secret cabal otherwise.
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cherrypoptart
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So let me see if I understand this.

We have a lot of people without health insurance, but the union workers we're talking about here aren't among them.

So a good idea is to just force by law the people without health insurance such as real estate agents and independent contractors to buy it and tax their plans on top of everything else but not impose those same taxes on the people with good jobs who already have insurance.

Basically, for the people without insurance we're supposedly concerned about, the government hits them in the gut with the mandate and then as they double over gives them a knee to the face with the extra tax. While those who are already set get a sweetheart deal, a big hug and a kiss. Thanks Obama!

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TomDavidson
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Well, it was apparently either that or socialism, and you guys weren't interested in that. [Wink]
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by cherrypoptart:
So a good idea is to just force by law the people without health insurance such as real estate agents and independent contractors to buy it and tax their plans on top of everything else but not impose those same taxes on the people with good jobs who already have insurance.



No, it's not. The employer tax exclusion should be cut completely, ideally. That's not ready to happen yet, but this is a good first step on the way and it opens the door to phasing it out step by step and moving to a personal, portable coverage model. In the meantime, it creates active motivation to prevent the cost insurance plans from raising above that certain threshold (which only taxes the portion of the plan above that limit, not the whole plan), and is one of the most direct and upfront cost control measures in the bill.

In the ideal case, not a single penny will be collected under it, because insurance companies will lower their plan prices down to stay under the line.

quote:
Basically, for the people without insurance we're supposedly concerned about, the government hits them in the gut with the mandate and then as they double over gives them a knee to the face with the extra tax. While those who are already set get a sweetheart deal, a big hug and a kiss. Thanks Obama!
That's an absurd characterization, given that "being hit in the gut" apparently means "makes them able to get medical coverage at prices much lower than they're paying now."
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Well, it was apparently either that or socialism, and you guys weren't interested in that. [Wink]

They seem to be, since dropping the mandate would be one of the quickest paths to eventually moving everyone into a government sponsored single payer system as the private system crashed and burned because it was only covering the most sick people.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by G2:
OK, once everyone id s done laughing at the ridiculous idea of a reduction in coverage - they're not going to reduce their power through reduced influence - think about where that $60 billion is going to come from.

Doesn't have to come from anywhere, really, just reduce the overall revenue that the bill would generate. But I'd fully favor just folding in the House's 1% tax increase on incomes over $500K/$1M while adopting and even improving on the House's subsidy levels and Medicaid expansion.
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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by tonylovern:
quote:
Remember when Obama supporters just knew the era of back room deals was over?
that's pretty transparent. most backroom deals aren't. as soon as you find evidence of something that's not covered in the MSM, let us know. it's not much of a secret cabal otherwise.
So after "more than 15 hours of negotiating at the White House that ended after midnight Wednesday" you're certain you know the whole deal huh? Yeah, sure you do. Everything that went on there and everything that was agreed to has been reported we can be sure because .. well because ... just because I guess.
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Pyrtolin
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Certain, no. It's certainly not unreasonable to watch for any signs of such in future behavior by the legislators, but that's irrelevant to attempting to paint the negotiation as a backroom deal, when it was official, public knowledge that it was happening, and the results were officially announced.

It's not like the revisions seemed to come out of the blue, then it was later leaked that the union leaders had made a secret phonecall to Reid the night before and hashed out a secret deal.

You are conflating "back room" and "closed door" here when the two are not equivalent at all. One of the most important characteristics of a back room deal is that, short leaks or speculation, no one but the people making the deal actually knew that it was made at all.

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The Drake
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I don't like exemptions. I disagree with this deal.

As far as transparency, however, this is certainly more transparent than say, Cheney's meetings with oil execs. However, since this deal only benefitted the unions, it sort of had to be made public in order to become part of the law - which thankfully is still public.

This is nothing compared to the cloak of secrecy that the Obama administration lovingly placed on the shoulders of Union bosses early last year.

quote:
Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis betrayed rank and file union members by repealing vital reporting regulations that allowed members to see how union bosses were spending their hard-earned dues money.

Solis's repeal weakens one of the chief reporting tools used by the website to collect union financial data, the Form LM-2. The form requires labor organizations whose annual receipts are greater than $250,000 to identify and report all expense above $5,000. This tool allowed the DOL's Office of Labor and Management Standards to obtain $91.5 million dollars in restitution of dues and resulted in over 900 convictions from 2001 to 2008.

Repealing this requirement limits union members' access to needed information about how their dues are being used. Chao's changes gave members more data to examine investments and transactions by their union and ensure they were made at arm's length and without self dealing. The repeal also limits a member's ability to monitor union officer and union employee compensation.

* cue Daruma to remind us that both parties are evil
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whitefire
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Does anyone seriously think that exempting unions from a tax is a good idea? I welcome someone who thinks that the unions do something to deserve this kind of treatment.
Especially when you consider that there are non union companies out there providing these same kinds of plans that would not be exempt.
What happens then those companies drop their insurance to below the threshold? Do those businesses choose to unionize to get their expensive plans back, or just accept the reduction in benefits?
I say get rid of the tax entirely or tax everyone equally.
And if someone can make a reasonable argument for why they deserve special treatment - make it - and getting votes or contributions in the next election shouldn't cut it.

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tonylovern
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i'll give it a try. no promises though, my brain doesnt work as well as it used to.

unions often have insurance benefits above and beyond what they could afford on thier salaries. better benefits than what thier non union counterparts get. depending on the size of the tax, it could possibly be a greater burden on the employees themselves than it would be on a non union employee who has the same benefits because they make more money.

i dont know if that makes sense to anyone but me but thats one reason that may or may not have factored into the decision.

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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by tonylovern:
unions often have insurance benefits above and beyond what they could afford on thier salaries. better benefits than what thier non union counterparts get. depending on the size of the tax, it could possibly be a greater burden on the employees themselves than it would be on a non union employee who has the same benefits because they make more money.

That would be valid if they had made the rules universal, but they didn't. A non-union employee, making exactly the same salary with exactly the same health care benefits would be subject to the tax. A Union employee will not pay until 2018.

Aside, would this be subject to a "bill of attainder" law suit?

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
That would be valid if they had made the rules universal, but they didn't. A non-union employee, making exactly the same salary with exactly the same health care benefits would be subject to the tax. A Union employee will not pay until 2018.



Careful- a person having a plan that costs the same, not necessarily one that offers the same benefits. In that regard, the union folks may actually be the ones losing out here, because the nonunion people will have a bit more leverage to convince the insurance companies to keep the rates lower, while they can offer the same plans to union folks at higher rates.

quote:
Aside, would this be subject to a "bill of attainder" law suit?
It's not a law that singles anyone out for any kind of punitive measure, so, no.
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cherrypoptart
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> Pyrtolin

> It's certainly not unreasonable to watch for any signs of such in future behavior by the legislators, but that's irrelevant to attempting to paint the negotiation as a backroom deal, when it was official, public knowledge that it was happening, and the results were officially announced.

We were promised the negotiations televised on C-Span. C-Span made it clear they were perfectly eager to accomodate.

How is this not a broken promise? Were notes taken? Transcriptions? Recordings? A certain death awates anyone holding their breath waiting for anything like that to be made public.

> The Drake

> As far as transparency, however, this is certainly more transparent than say, Cheney's meetings with oil execs.

Anyone saying this is better than what Dick Cheney did may be forgetting that Dick Cheney never promised any negotiations would be televised on C-Span.

> whitefire

> I welcome someone who thinks that the unions do something to deserve this kind of treatment.


They voted for Obama. I'm sure they promised him their support. It looks like that's all it takes to get as much of our tax money as you Obama can get his hands on. There is also the little matter of transparency in union money matters getting nixed so now the unions can get away with all kinds of shenanigans. Thanks Obama! (cp)

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by cherrypoptart:
We were promised the negotiations televised on C-Span. C-Span made it clear they were perfectly eager to accomodate.

How is this not a broken promise? Were notes taken? Transcriptions? Recordings? A certain death awates anyone holding their breath waiting for anything like that to be made public.

Indeed they did. And do you believe that if we let them put cameras in anywhere, we would have seen any of the actual negotiations, or just the parties basically reading from prearranged scripts, because they handled the negotiations ahead of time and completely out of sight. (Much like has already begun to happen more in the House and the Senate since cameras were put in their chambers full time. We get to see them perform for us, while most of their actual business is carried out before it ever hits the floor)

It is absolutely a broken promise. No one is contesting that point, but it's a good thing it was broken, because it would have lead to much, much more back room dealing in preparation for The Heathcare Reality Show. Allowing closed door meetings means that we at least know who is cutting deals with who, and where to watch for undue influence.

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
It is absolutely a broken promise. No one is contesting that point, but it's a good thing it was broken, because it would have lead to much, much more back room dealing in preparation for The Heathcare Reality Show. Allowing closed door meetings means that we at least know who is cutting deals with who, and where to watch for undue influence.

Wow, going with secret meetings where we don't know who was there and what was discussed is a good thing because it let's us know who was there and what was discussed. Perhaps the most Orwellian comment ever on this forum...
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whitefire
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"unions often have insurance benefits above and beyond what they could afford on their salaries. better benefits than what their non union counterparts get. depending on the size of the tax, it could possibly be a greater burden on the employees themselves than it would be on a non union employee who has the same benefits because they make more money."
I don't even think you have to compare union to non union to make this argument. You need only say that this tax is based on the assumption that these kinds of plans are used by folks that can afford them. If that assumption is wrong, IE the union members couldn't afford the premium and therefore the tax on it would be an undue burden, then either a. the tax ought not to exist or b. folks below a certain income level or for whom their insurance premium exceeds a certain percentage of their annual income ought to be exempt. Exempting a block of people who meet these standards without exempting others is unequal treatment under the law.

The fact that (some) union members get better than what everyone else gets and better than what they can afford is part of the problem.
and Pyr gets at that point, however indirectly when he says
"In that regard, the union folks may actually be the ones losing out here, because the nonunion people will have a bit more leverage to convince the insurance companies to keep the rates lower, while they can offer the same plans to union folks at higher rates."
Seems to me (and please correct me if I am wrong) that these plans exist to a. placate the membership, but mostly b. to pad the bottom line of the insurers. As long as union members demand the best possible coverage, there is no incentive to lower the cost of these plans, and/or actually work to create more useful plans.

If these are the best arguments that can be made behalf of the unions getting this exemption, let me say I think you could make similar arguments to exempt almost anyone.
Further -
Taxes, and really most government regulation always have unintended (or apparently unintended)consequences. Legislators need to take more time thinking about what they are doing before they do it. We'd have a lot fewer closed door or back room deals. It might take more time to address some problems in our society than many would like, but the alternative is that we become a society of children.
Many times children can see right through the BS to the truth, but just as often they throw a tantrum to get candy for dinner. If they are indulged, especially right away, candy is all they ever eat.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by G2:
quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
It is absolutely a broken promise. No one is contesting that point, but it's a good thing it was broken, because it would have lead to much, much more back room dealing in preparation for The Heathcare Reality Show. Allowing closed door meetings means that we at least know who is cutting deals with who, and where to watch for undue influence.

Wow, going with secret meetings where we don't know who was there and what was discussed is a good thing because it let's us know who was there and what was discussed. Perhaps the most Orwellian comment ever on this forum...
You continue to improperly conflate "closed door" and "back room". My contention is that being able to know who was there is far more transparent than not knowing that there even was a meeting.
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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Originally posted by G2:
quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
It is absolutely a broken promise. No one is contesting that point, but it's a good thing it was broken, because it would have lead to much, much more back room dealing in preparation for The Heathcare Reality Show. Allowing closed door meetings means that we at least know who is cutting deals with who, and where to watch for undue influence.

Wow, going with secret meetings where we don't know who was there and what was discussed is a good thing because it let's us know who was there and what was discussed. Perhaps the most Orwellian comment ever on this forum...
You continue to improperly conflate "closed door" and "back room". My contention is that being able to know who was there is far more transparent than not knowing that there even was a meeting.
You continue to improperly conflate "closed door" and "openness". My contention is that being closed door you cannot know who was there, you can only know who they tell you was there.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by G2:
You continue to improperly conflate "closed door" and "openness".

I'm dong no such thing. There is no implication in anything I've said that such are open, only that we actually know that they're happening, when they're happening, and who is involved. It's not open, but it's about as close as it's practically possible to get, short of keeping a camera pointed at each person 24/7 or sequestering them as if they were on a jury.

quote:
My contention is that being closed door you cannot know who was there, you can only know who they tell you was there.
What, they smuggle them in and out through secret tunnels? Hide them in the lunch carts?

In the meetings with labor leaders, for example, who do you think they might have been sneaking in? Who might have been the surprise guests that they maneuvered past the reporters lined up at the doors to the Democratic conference chambers when they were hammering out the final modifications to the Senate's healthcare bill?

Why would they even bother with that when they could have even more easily just made a few calls in private the night before and settled matters ahead of time?

Can you even coherently assert what putting a camera in any of those rooms would have done except ensure that more of the real negotiations took place somewhere else that wasn't on camera?

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Originally posted by G2:
You continue to improperly conflate "closed door" and "openness".

I'm dong no such thing. There is no implication in anything I've said that such are open, only that we actually know that they're happening, when they're happening, and who is involved. It's not open, but it's about as close as it's practically possible to get, short of keeping a camera pointed at each person 24/7 or sequestering them as if they were on a jury.

Yeah, you are. Tell you what, I got a meeting later today with 2 people (call them Bob and Sam for grins) to discuss a product strategy. So you think you know what's happening and when and just who will be there. How do you know? Why, because I told you! I appreciate your blind and total trust but really, do you know with 100% certainty that's who was there and what we discussed? Of course not, that'd be silly wouldn't it? It's no different at this meeting where you seem to think you know these things.
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Pyrtolin
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I'll be sure to have my cameraman standing outside your conference room then, watching you as you go in and a reporter to push you for questions as you walk out.

If we want to make that scenario even slightly comparable.

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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
What, they smuggle them in and out through secret tunnels?

Actually, they do have restricted access tunnels. Or more correctly the Congress has a restricted access subway underneath the capitol.

quote:
The systems are open to public insofar as members of the public must be escorted by a staff member with proper identification. However, during votes, the House subway is restricted for Congressional members-only. The Russell subway is restricted to members and staff-only during times when the Senate is voting.
US Capitol
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Pyrtolin
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That's generally reasonable- it makes a decent amount of sense to have those available.

The assertion that they're sneaking people into publicized meetings, though, still doesn't hold much water when they could just as easily have the meetings privately and not worry about extra layers of skulduggery.

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