Now that hapless Senator Ben Nelson has withdrawn his requirement that the “health care reform” legislation exempt Nebraska from paying increased Medicaid costs, we can turn our attention to the latest appalling amendment designed to achieve passage of the bill. Surprise! It’s another effort to curry support by exempting certain segments of the population from the draconian impact of the proposed legislation, which as a result would fall disproportionately on the rest of us.
In this case, the political payoff is to labor unions and state and local government workers. They get a five-year exemption from the tax that will be imposed on so-called “Cadillac” health care plans that provide richer benefits to recipients. Everyone else with such plans will have to pay taxes starting in 2013; identically situated union workers and government employees won’t have to do so until 2018 — if they don’t use their political muscle to negotiate a complete exemption from the tax at some point in the future. The cost of this latest deal has been estimated to be $60 billion.
Is it any wonder that President Obama and the Democratic leadership decided that they didn’t want these “health care reform” negotiations broadcast on C-SPAN? Every bit of information that has leaked about their secret discussions reeks of sweetheart deals cut in smoke-filled rooms and indicates that the Administration and congressional leaders will stop at nothing in their zeal to cobble together a viable coalition of support for the Frankensteinian hodge-podge that is the current “health care reform” legislation. So much for the heartfelt promises of transparency and a change in how business is done in Washington, D.C.