Posted March 14, 2013 at 9:00 am, in Videos
Posts Tagged ‘Obamacare’
Posted January 17, 2013 at 12:28 pm, in Union Matters
Last week, a Wendy’s franchise in Omaha, Neb., became the latest member of the fast food industry to announce that the costs of complying with the Affordable Care Act were forcing it to slash the hours of hundreds of its employees.
In the meantime, food franchises are making big bucks and paying big bucks to their CEOs. The Wendy’s Co., Papa John’s International, Yum! Brands, which owns Taco Bell, and DineEquity, which owns Applebee’s, are all generating profits that surpass pre-recession levels and all pay their top executives millions, according to a study by the National Employment Law Project.
In addition, a study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that rates of involuntary part-time work throughout the economy began accelerating in 2006, well before the passage of the Affordable Care Act—and even before the worst of the Great Recession.
Food service was one of three industries accounting for much of this growth, and in 2010, half of all fast food employees worked part-time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Fast food restaurant employees are among the lowest paid workers in the country, most making less than $8 an hour. A study by the Economic Policy Institute titled “The Future of Work” found that nearly three-fourths of food service workers received wages at or below the poverty line.
In late November more than 200 New York City workers from McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Wendy’s and other fast food chains walked out, demanding higher pay, better working conditions and recognition of their unionization efforts. Unionized workers are a third more likely to have employer-sponsored health insurance than non-unionized workers. (more…)
Get ready to hear that word many times in the coming weeks, especially if you hang out inside the Washington beltway.
“Disruption” will be the new buzzword in an upcoming advertising campaign aimed at scaring us. The campaign is selling the idea that millions of Americans will face higher premiums and possibly be forced into health plans with skimpier benefits — i.e., disrupted — if Congress doesn’t repeal a provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that raises money to pay for expanding coverage for the uninsured.
The greed of the health insurance industry knows no bounds. Insurance companies will get billions of dollars in new revenue every year as a result of the health act’s requirement that, starting in 2014, we will have to buy coverage from private insurers if we’re not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 32 million uninsured Americans will finally get coverage as a result of the law. While many will be newly eligible for the Medicaid program, millions of others will get subsidies from the federal government to help them buy private insurance. So insurance companies will get new premium revenue not only from individuals and families but also from the government.
To help finance this expanded coverage, the ACA includes a premium fee on insurers and their business customers that provide the highest level of coverage (like the so-called Cadillac plans). The fee, which is estimated to raise $87 billion over 10 years, will go into effect simultaneously with the individual mandate.
Even though insurers will get a huge infusion of cash from us and the government over that period, they are claiming it’s not fair for them have to foot any of the bill. They insist they’ll have no choice but to pass the fee — which they call a tax — on to their policyholders. In other words, they’re not happy enough with the cake the government is giving them. They want to eat every crumb of it, too.
There will be little evidence, of course, that insurance firms are behind this campaign. To obscure their involvement, insurers have enlisted the support of the same allies they have called upon in the past to front for them — including the National Federation of Independent Business, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.
I know this from working with those same groups in another insurance-industry funded front group — the Health Benefits Coalition — that employed the same tactics a decade ago when insurers were trying to kill the Patients’ Bill of Rights. That coalition succeeded by convincing lawmakers that giving patients more rights, especially allowing them to sue insurers for refusing to pay for needed care, would cause premiums to skyrocket. (more…)
Posted November 20, 2012 at 8:00 am, in From the USW International President
Republicans, the party of the nation’s entitled rich, are holding a knife to the throat of America’s frail recovery.
The GOP sore losers have America up against a wall. Republicans don’t care that the majority of the country voted for a candidate who promised to raise taxes on the rich. Republicans don’t care that an even larger majority – 60 percent – told election day pollsters they wanted those taxes raised. Republicans don’t care about majority-rule democracy at all. They’re demanding ransom – extension of tax cuts for the rich. If Americans don’t submit, Republicans will slash the nation’s economy.
“Back away from your Social Security, your Medicare, your Medicaid,” the Republicans are ordering. The GOP insists those crucial social insurance programs be sacrificed to prevent the entitled rich from once again paying the income tax rates that they did during the boom years of Bill Clinton. The party that lost the Presidency, lost seats in the House and lost seats in the Senate is willing to take down the economy, to eviscerate programs like the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Federal Aviation Administration rather than require the entitled rich pull their weight as citizens of the country that enabled them to live lives of unprecedented luxury.
The candidate Republicans chose as their presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, stated the party’s position loud and clear last spring and reiterated it during a phone call last week with his millionaire financiers. Romney told funders in May that he had no intention of “worrying about” 47 percent of Americans who he described as moochers, citizens he slandered with the allegation that they refuse to “take personal responsibility.”
In the phone call last week, Romney claimed that the Americans he referred to as government moochers all voted for President Obama because the Democrat gave them “gifts.” Romney, a quarter-billionaire, described the administration’s plan for partial forgiveness of college loan interest as a “gift” to students. The Republican candidate born into wealth and pampered in private schools characterized as a “gift” the requirement in Obamacare that health insurance companies provide prescription contraceptives without co-payments.
The rich boy said President Obama bought women’s votes for $10 co-pay forgiveness. But for Republicans, it’s never the other way around. Romney and the GOP don’t think they were buying the votes of the rich with their promise to add another 20 percent break on top of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest. (more…)
Posted November 18, 2012 at 8:00 am, in Videos
Mitt Romney refuses to accept responsibility for his election loss.
As we close in on Election Day, the questions about what Mitt Romney would do if elected grow even larger. Rarely before in American history has a candidate for president campaigned on such a blank slate.
Yet, paradoxically, not a day goes by that we don’t hear Romney, or some other exponent of the GOP, claim that businesses aren’t creating more jobs because they’re uncertain about the future. And the source of that uncertainty, they say, is President Obama — especially his Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the Dodd-Frank Act, and uncertainties surrounding Obama’s plan to raise taxes on the wealthy.
For example, Romney says if elected he’ll repeal Obamacare and replace it with something else. He promises he’ll provide health coverage to people with preexisting medical problems but he doesn’t give a hint how he’d manage it.
Insurance companies won’t pay the higher costs of insuring these people unless they have extra funds — which is why Obamacare requires that everyone, including healthy young people, buy insurance. Yet Romney doesn’t say where the extra money to fund insurers would come from. From taxpayers? Businesses?
Talk about uncertainty.
Romney also promises to repeal Dodd-Frank, but here again he’s mum on what he’d replace with. Yet without some sort of new regulation of Wall Street we’re back to where we were before 2008 when Wall Street crashed and brought most of the rest of us down with it.
Romney hasn’t provided a clue how he proposes to oversee the biggest banks absent Dodd-Frank, what kind of capital requirements he’d require of them, and what mechanism he’d use to put them through an orderly bankruptcy that wouldn’t risk the rest of the Street. All we get is a big question mark.
When it comes to how Romney would pay for the giant $5 trillion tax cut he proposes, mostly for the rich, he takes uncertainty to a new level of abject wonderment. “We’ll work with Congress,” is his response.
He says he’ll limit loopholes and deductions that could be used by the wealthy, but refuses to be specific. Several weeks ago Romney said he’d cap total deductions at $17,000 a year. Days later, the figure became $25,000. Now it’s up in the air. “Pick a figure,” he now says.
Make no mistake. Wall Street traders and corporate CEOs are supporting Romney not because of the new level of certainty he promises but because Romney promises to lower their taxes.
Meanwhile, many of Romney’s allies who are attacking Obama for creating uncertainty are themselves responsible for the uncertainty. They’re the ones who have delayed and obfuscated Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, and any semblance of a federal budget.
“Continued uncertainty is the greatest threat to small businesses and our country’s economic recovery,” says Thomas Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has been funneled tens of millions of dollars into ads blaming Obama for the nation’s economic woes.
That’s the same Chamber of Commerce that’s been using every legal tool imaginable to challenge regulations emerging from Obamacare and Dodd-Frank — keeping the future of both laws as uncertain as possible for as long as they can. The Chamber even brought Obamacare to the Supreme Court.
At the same time, congressional Republicans have done everything in their power to scotch any agreement on how to reduce the budget deficit. Because they’ve pledged their fiscal souls to Grover Norquist, they won’t consider raising even a dollar of new taxes. Yet it’s impossible to balance the budget without some combination of spending cuts and tax increases — unless, that is, we do away with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, or the military.
Business executives justifiably worry about January’s so-called “fiscal cliff”, requiring sudden and sharp tax increases and spending cuts. But they have no one to blame but Norquist’s Republican acolytes in Congress, including Paul Ryan, all of whom agreed to the fiscal cliff when they couldn’t agree to anything else. (more…)
Posted October 16, 2012 at 8:00 am, in From the USW International President
Billy Koehler died on March 7, 2009, for lack of health insurance. Mitt Romney said on Oct. 10, 2012, that’s impossible.
The Republican nominee for President told The Columbus Dispatch newspaper last week:
“We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance.”
Technically, that’s true of Billy Koehler. He didn’t die in his apartment. He died in his car. Koehler suffered cardiac arrest and perished slumped over his steering wheel at a stop sign in Pittsburgh because he didn’t have health insurance and didn’t have $60,000 to replace his implanted defibrillator.
Romney, a quarter-billionaire born with a silver foot in his mouth, has shielded himself from the world in which America’s many Billy Koehlers exist. Their paths don’t naturally cross. Billy Koehlers don’t hang out with Romney’s NASCAR owner pals. Billy Koehlers don’t disparage the nation’s elderly and impoverished at fundraisers in the homes of private equity moguls. FDR and JFK made an effort to understand the joys and hardships of the non-rich. But Romney hasn’t. And that’s why he so carelessly called America’s Billy Koehlers a deliberately dependent underclass, albeit one comprising 47 percent of all citizens. Because Romney knows nothing of the lives of the nation’s Billy Koehlers, the Republican nominee can dismiss their medical predicaments as nonexistent and assure wealthy donors he won’t “worry about those people.”
Romney told the Columbus newspaper that no one needs to worry about those lacking health insurance because federal law requires hospitals to treat emergency cases:
“We don’t have a setting across this country where if you don’t have insurance, we say to you, ‘Tough luck, you’re going to die when you have your heart attack.”
“No, you go to the hospital; you get treated; you get care, and it’s paid for, either by charity, the government or by the hospital.”
Logically, then, the solution would be for no one to buy insurance. Why bother? Hospitals must treat and bill someone else, according to Romney.
Posted October 9, 2012 at 8:00 am, in From the USW International President
“I’m gonna float like a butterfly and sting like a bee;
George can’t hit what his hands can’t see;
Now you see me, now you don’t;
He thinks he will, but I know he won’t.” ~ Muhammad Ali
At last week’s presidential debate, Mitt Romney floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee.
He punched and parried, feigning the great Muhammad Ali.
Any likeness between the two is, however, mere illusion. America has seen victory by Muhammad Ali. America worked through disputes with Muhammad Ali. Now America admires Muhammad Ali. And Mitt Romney is no champion. Instead, Romney’s a magic man. He employs sleight of hand. He uses smoke and mirrors to confuse and obscure. Unlike President Obama, Mitt doesn’t do math. He performs tricks, sorta like Muhammad Ali said in his rhyme – Now you see severely conservative Romney, now you don’t. The GOP nominee asks Americans to engage in magical thinking – to believe his hocus-pocus is not just a stage show but will actually painlessly solve problems.
Last week, Romney promoted his magic show during the debate. He promised his performance as president would be fabulous, stupendous, unprecedented! He bragged:
“My plan is not like anything that’s been tried before.”
Specifically, he was talking about his tax plan. Romney has pledged to reinstate the Bush tax cuts should they expire at year’s end as scheduled, then further slash income taxes by 20 percent for everyone. Also, Romney has vowed to eliminate and cut other federal taxes, including the estate tax.
Here’s the part where Romney promises to accomplish something never done before: he says he’ll slash and burn all these taxes but not add a dime to the deficit or to the tax burden of the middle class. When Ronald Reagan made a similar promise, George Bush I called it voodoo economics. George Bush II tried this magic trick and failed. Bush gave everyone, particularly the rich, tax breaks. Then the federal deficit skyrocketed. To quote a bumbling former Republican presidential candidate, “Whoops.”
Romney says that won’t happen when he performs as president. He’s too good. The illusionist swore to the nation Wednesday night:
“My, my number one principal is, there will be no tax cut that adds to the deficit. I want to underline that: no tax cut that adds to the deficit.”
He hasn’t specified how he’d accomplish that because, as you know, magic tricks are proprietary secrets. He’s offered a couple of enticing tidbits, however.
One is that he’d close tax loopholes and deductions to recoup income lost because of all those tax cuts. But he won’t say which ones because, again, those proprietary magic secrets.
The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center (TPC) analyzed Romney’s proposal and concluded it didn’t add up – even when they gave him lots of breaks because his plan is clandestine. To get back $1 from closed loopholes for every $1 in tax cuts, the TPC determined that Romney would have to eliminate breaks favored by the middle class, such the mortgage deduction. And that means Romney’s plan would cost middle class families an additional $2,000 a year on average, the TPC said.
Still, Romney assured the American people last week:
“I will not, under any circumstances, raise taxes on middle-income families. I will lower taxes on middle-income families.”
Posted September 11, 2012 at 8:00 am, in From the USW International President
Damn right America is better off than it was four years ago.
Four years ago was September 2008. George W. Bush was president and Wall Street giant Lehman Brothers was collapsing. It was a time of fear. It was a time of panic about the future. Recalling that anxiety is unsettling. But it’s important for comparison sake.
Lehman filed for bankruptcy this week four years ago – Sept. 15, 2008. Global financial markets spun into a panic. Credit markets froze worldwide. The stock market plunged. GM and Chrysler fell into crisis. Foreclosures were spiking and housing prices plummeting. Main Street shops and factories couldn’t get ordinary loans essential to sustain routine business. Nearly half a million workers lost their jobs that month. It was the ninth consecutive month of massive job losses. The Bush administration had converted a vibrant economy and budget surplus it had inherited from former President Bill Clinton into the Great Recession and massive deficits. America was still mired in two wars, including one Bush started on false pretenses.
Now, in September 2012, global financial markets have stabilized. Credit is available to Main Street. GM and Chrysler are building cars and creating jobs. Unemployment is declining as the private sector has added jobs to the economy every month for the past 30. The value of housing is rising once again, creating wealth for the middle class. Now there’s a financial reform law to prevent another Wall Street bailout. There’s Obamacare to help families retain and secure health insurance. The war in Iraq is over and Osama bin Laden is dead. Is America better off than it was four years ago? Hell, yes it is!
September 2012 can’t be described as boom times. But it’s sure not the dread-filled days of September 2008. As former President Clinton so eloquently said last week in his convention speech, describing the Republican attitude toward President Obama:
“We left him a total mess. He hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough. So fire him and put us back in.”
Republicans want Americans to put them back in charge. Their presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, has promised to “restore” America, to return the country to the days before President Obama.
The Romney plan to “restore” America involves repealing, revoking and rejecting every advance President Obama has achieved, including health insurance reform and Wall Street regulation. As Andy Borowitz suggested, if Romney could, he’d revive Osama bin Laden and kill Detroit. Anything to take America back(wards).
Luckily, Romney wouldn’t be able to undo President Obama’s auto bailout – although he opposed it from day one, urging “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” He wrote:
“If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.”
Well, GM and Chrysler got bailouts, and both are doing fine, thank you, Mr. Romney. In fact, in January GM reclaimed for a few months the title of world’s largest car manufacturer. Both companies are repaying the government loans and 1.45 million people are working as a direct result of the bailout, according to the nonpartisan Center for Automotive Research.
Would America be better off without GM and Chrysler? No, it would not. That according to 1.45 million employed people. (more…)
Posted August 7, 2012 at 8:00 am, in From the USW International President
In the case of fetuses and rich people, Republicans insist on the sanctity of life. But in the case of destitute people, infants who imprudently choose working-poor parents and struggling young adults – basically all riffraff unable to afford health insurance – the GOP says there’s nothing sacred about their stinking lives.
Let ’em die. The uninsured should be left to rot. To the GOP, lack of insurance revokes sanctity of life. A GOP audience at a Republican presidential candidate debate clapped and cheered that morality. More recently, GOP leaders said insuring all Americans should not be the nation’s objective.
Instead, the Republican goal is guaranteeing Americans retain the freedom to forgo health insurance.
To the GOP, “freedom” to be uninsured is more important than public health, which could be endangered by an untreated, uninsured, modern-day Typhoid Mary. To Republicans, the “freedom” to be uninsured is more important than the horror of family members watching helplessly as a loved one who foolishly failed to get insurance slowly dies in agony from untreated bone cancer.
One percenters who are members of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s elite club of quarter billionaires can afford the risk of being uninsured. If they fall off a dancing horse, they can pay the medical bills out of pocket. But the non-rich can’t afford a trip to the emergency room. For them, being uninsured isn’t a freedom. It’s bankruptcy. It’s death.
No sane non-rich American wants the liberty to be uninsured.
Despite that, the GOP has repeatedly declared its intention to force the freedom to be uninsured down the throats of unwilling non-rich Americans. Last month, the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives voted for the 33rd time to repeal or defund ObamaCare. Republicans have tried incessantly in the past two years to kill the law that will soon increase the percentage of Americans covered by health insurance from 84 to 93. If the Republicans could just get Democrats in the Senate to approve that repeal – and President Obama to sign it – 30 million Americans would continue to be “free” to choose being uninsured.
The GOP may get that opportunity early next year. Their presidential nominee Mitt Romney has vowed that his top priority “day one, job one” in the White House will be repealing ObamaCare. No matter that it’s based on RomneyCare, which Romney signed while governor of Massachusetts; no matter that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of ObamaCare; no matter that Republicans have no plan to cover the 30 million Americans who would lose the opportunity to be insured; no matter how many uninsured people would die as a result, repeal is Romney’s top national priority.
Let ’em die, Romney says. Sanctity-Schmanctity. (more…)