Monday, September 21, 2009

Baucus Spells Doom to Democratic Party; and All of Us

by Phil E. Benjamin

Baucus [Senate Finance] Bill Rips Workers and their Unions;
Makes Mockery of the Congress

Back in 1980, there was a labor and peoples' movement to cover the uninsured. David Stockman was Ronald Reagan's Secretary of Finance. Stockman cynically proposed that to cover the unemployed and uninsured with health insurance, union health benefits should be taxed. He said there was just enough money to cover it.

As was said then, that would have constituted a double tax, since workers had already
sacrificed higher wages, in their contract negotiations, to get better health benefits
and pensions. The proposal, even in that heady Reagan period, was soundly defeated.

But, the taxing of union health benefits has been a dream of the right wing and the Republican Party ever since.

Well 30 years later, Max Baucus, the Democratic Senator from Montana, is now proposing that very same tax. In fact, it is one of centerpieces of his totally unsupportable health legislation.

Taxing of union benefits will jack up the cost of existing health benefit plans, to very
high numbers, and at the same time, provide the incentive to reduce benefits.

This is NOT what labor voted for. Workers and their unions were assured on more than one occasion that they would do NO WORSE than what they already have. Well, that won't be the case if Baucus wins. It will be quite the opposite.

It is common knowledge that Baucus receives millions of dollars from the insurance
industry that is known about. His arrogance at committee hearings is also well


No wonder, the Jay Rockefeller, the U.S. Senator from West Virginia, is in a Senatorial
fit in opposition the Baucus proposal.

True, some of his anger is that, as the ranking leader of the health committee of the
Senate Finance Committee, Baucus did NOT include him as part of the "Gang of 6"
who supposedly wrote his bill? Supposedly, because there is mounting evidence that the insurance industry, itself, wrote the actual language. There were three Republicans and three Democrats. The other Democrat is Kent Conrad from North Dakota.

But, Rockefeller is also angry that there not be any form of "public option" in
the Senate Health Committee proposal. He may be quiet on the financing aspect.

Rockefeller must be supported in his attempt to derail his own Committee's bill.

But, given the way the U.S. Senate works, the movement to dump the Baucus bill cannot be just around Jay Rockefeller.

The AFL-CIO and all of its affiliated unions and those with Change to Win are opposing
this Baucus proposal, but they will need rank and file, grass roots, support to defeat it

What if Baucus Wins?

If Baucus Wins; WE All Lose.

Here are some clear things to think about.

This bill is total incomprehensible. Attending small meetings with those who are trying
to understand it and then explain it to people who are fairly familiar with the issues,
is one thing. Even for both of these groups, the bill is very confusing.

But, to go out to the general popular and talk about "subsidies" and "health insurance exchanges" is tailor made for the Republican Media Machine to attack it as more D.C. craziness. And, the whole idea of co-ops in health care would take hours to explain.

And, now that this bill is so anti-working class and anti-union, the right wing and the
Republican Party can say with a large degree of authenticity, that this bill hates
workers; and, therefore the Democratic Party are anti-worker.

In fact, the Baucus bill makes the Hillary Clinton Bill of the early 1990s, a cakewalk
to understand.

Did the think tank of Republicans and insurance carriers, with Baucus, deliberately
construct this bill to receive the ridicule of the same Republican Party? Who knows?
Sure looks like it.

This is especially so given the fact that not ONE, NOT ONE, Republican Senator supports the proposal. Only Olympia Snow seems a little interested.

Senate Health Committee

There is no word from the Senate Health Committee with its new Chair Iowa Senator Tom Harken. Taking over from Ted Kennedy. Its silence doesn't sound good for any of us.

3 House Bills

The three house bills are a lot more progressive than Baucus, but the power of the House
against the Senate Finance Committee is not good.

Jay Rockefeller said it quite clearly, that in the joint House and Senate Committee that
will ultimately get both the Senate and House Bills, the Senate Finance Committee has
most of the real power.

Time For Action

The time for action is NOW. Every Senator must be told: NO BAUCUS BILL. Every House Representative must be told, NO BUAUCUS Bill.

And, it is NOT JUST the Public Option. The whole bill it totally flawed and must be discarded.

If It Passes

If this Baucus bill becomes law, even with some minor tinkering, the future of the Democratic Party and its standard bearer is in deep trouble.

What is worse than no health legislation coming out of the Congress for the President to sign; is a law that is anti-worker and anti-union.

PS Insurance Carriers Stocks Skyrocket with Baucus

The Baucus bill is certainly good news for the insurance industry. Following the President's speech to Congress and the announcement of the Baucus bill, the major carriers saw huge increases in their shares:

United Health Group Rose 1%; Well Point Rose2%;

Aetna Inc. Rose 2% and Cigna stocks rose an incredible 4%.

Was the health reform movement meant to help those who don't have any insurance or limited insurance; or was is made to help the insurance industry?

The Answer to that question is an easy one.

Knocking the Baucus plan off the table will send insurance carriers stock tumbling, but it is a tumbling that will give hope to the 50 million people without any health insurance; and, another 60 million will lousy coverage.

By over playing their greedy and inhumane hands, the insurance carriers just might be handing themselves their walking cards.