Subsidies

Longshoremen union splits from AFL-CIO, ObamaCare among cited reasons

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which represents some 40,000 workers in the Northwest and Hawaii, has split from the AFL-CIO over attacks it has been under from other members of the prominent national labor union:

The West Coast longshore union is pulling out of the national AFL-CIO, citing “attacks” in which the umbrella organization’s members blatantly cross picket lines at Northwest grain terminals.

Robert “Big Bob” McEllrath, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, broke the news in a letter obtained by The Oregonian Friday. In the three-page letter sent Thursday, McEllrath told AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka the ILWU would sever its 25-year affiliation with the federation, cutting formal ties because organization members sabotaged dock workers.
[…]
McEllrath sent the letter a day after a federal administrative law judge issued a withering decision directing the San Francisco-based longshore union to stop disrupting Port of Portland operations and to quit seeking work that the judge said belonged to another AFL-CIO affiliate, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. McEllrath didn’t mention the decision, but he cited numerous other perceived offenses as well as disenchantment with the AFL-CIO on policy issues ranging from taxes to immigration.

“We will not let other affiliates jeopardize our survival and block our future as the primary waterfront workforce,” McEllrath wrote.

While the main issue may be attacks and sabotage from other labor organizations, there were other reasons cited in the letter McEllrath sent to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. Among the problems cited was ObamaCare.

Study shows ObamaCare makes insurance coverage more expensive

The White House is beginning yet another push to sell ObamaCare to a skeptical American public, Politico reported on Friday, in an effort to try to get the uninsured to take part in the state health insurance exchanges, which are expected to open on October 1st.

Participation in ObamaCare’s state insurance exchanges, especially from young Americans, will be a measure of “success” for the administration amid implementation problems, delays of key provisions, and rising premiums that have been attributed to the law. Polls continue to show that Americans disapprove of the law and want it repealed

The White House is so desperate for good news with ObamaCare that they’re literally trying to put some very odd spin on news stories about the law. The Weekly Standard points to one very odd recent example:

David Simas, a White House staffer, tweets (and the White House retweets) a link to an article and adds, “More good ACA [Obamacare] news. 21% savings on premiums for Ohioans who buy their own health insurance because of the ACA.”

Obama Administration delays finalizing agreements with health insurers

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced yet another ObamaCare delay. Reuters reported this morning that the department overseeing implementation of the 2010 healthcare law announced that they’ve pushed back the deadline to finalize agreements with health insurers:

The Obama administration has delayed a step crucial to the launch of the new healthcare law, the signing of final agreements with insurance plans to be sold on federal health insurance exchanges starting October 1.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) notified insurance companies on Tuesday that it would not sign final agreements with the plans between September 5 and 9, as originally anticipated, but would wait until mid-September instead, according to insurance industry sources.

Nevertheless, Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for HHS, said the department remains “on track to open” the marketplaces on time on October 1.

The reason for the hold-up was unclear. Sources attributed it to technology problems involving the display of insurance products within the federal information technology system.

This is the latest delay in implementation of ObamaCare, though not as significant as previous setbacks.

Obama’s hometown paper slams ObamaCare implementation

The Chicago Tribune, President Barack Obama’s hometown paper, slammed the administration’s efforts to implement ObamaCare in an editorial on Sunday and called for a delay and rewrite of the law.

Noting the recent delays of various provisions of the law — including the employer mandate, subsidy verification requirements, and consumer-cost caps — the Chicago Tribune explains that the Obama Administration had tacitly admitted that ObamaCare can’t work as currently written and that it has left both businesses and the American people reeling.

“The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, is a hugely complex law that sets up online health insurance marketplaces, requires people to have coverage or pay penalties, and doles out subsidies and incentives to nearly everyone in health care,” wrote the paper’s editorial board. “Doctors, hospitals and insurers have spent large sums to gear up for its requirements. Employers are mulling: Hire? Fire? Cut workers’ hours?”

“Millions of Americans, that is, stand to gain or lose from how this law is enforced — with the Obama administration bending that enforcement in ways that test, and arguably exceed, the boundaries of lawful conduct,” the paper explained, adding that each delay of a provision has a “massive ripple effect” on other parts of the law.

Group family insurance coverage could be the next ObamaCare casualty

Congress may have received an ObamaCare exemption to keep their out of pocket health insurance costs from going up, but hardworking families with coverage through small businesses may not be so lucky.

The Associated Press reports that small business owners facing hefty premium increases because of ObamaCare may end paid group family health insurance coverage for employees, leaving workers with less take home pay:

Insurance companies have already warned small business customers that premiums could rise 20 percent or more in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act. That’s making some owners consider not paying for coverage for workers’ families, even though insurance is a benefit that helps companies attract and retain top talent. If more small business owners decide to stop paying for family coverage, it will accelerate a trend that started as the cost of health insurance soared in recent years.

Under the law, companies with 50 or more employees are required to provide affordable coverage for their workers. They also must offer health insurance to employees’ dependents, but don’t have to pay for it. And they aren’t required to offer insurance at all to employees’ spouses.

Jay Leno takes a jab at ObamaCare exemption for Congress

Jay Leno

During his monologue on Friday, Jay Leno, host of NBC’s The Tonight Show, took a jab at the exemption that members of Congress and their aides will get from ObamaCare.

“[I]t was reported today that the White House just approved an exemption in ObamaCare coverage for Congress and members of their staff,” said Leno to a chorus of boos from the crowd.

“Yeah, well, members complained that the Affordable Care Act will cost them thousands extra a year in premiums. Wait, it’s their bill. If it’s too expensive, why did they name it the Affordable Care Act? You see?” he asked rhetorically. “Why don’t they call it what it really is - the ‘Do As We Say, Not As We Do Act?’ That is what the name of, that’s the name of the bill.”

Here’s video of Leno’s comments via the Media Research Center:

Members of Congress and congressional staffers will still receive nearly 75% contribution from the federal government to help pay for their health insurance coverage. That was at risk due to a provision of ObamaCare. But a new rule brokered last week by President Barack Obama and the White House allowed the contribution to remain in place.

They will have to go through ObamaCare’s health insurance exchanges to purchase coverage. However, they will not be eligible for the subsidies provided under the law, which would have increased their out of pocket costs for health insurance.

Outrageous proposal brings huge subsidies to luxury beach houses

No matter their stated ideologies, overwhelming majorities of Americans would agree in principle that the government should try to help the vulnerable and poor before it lifts a finger to help the well off In forwarding a new proposal that she has tucked into a spending bill, Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee Chair Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has egregiously crashed this nigh-universal principle. In particular, Landrieu proposes charging almost four and a half million Americans more to take part in the National Flood Insurance Program so that people who can afford second homes will pay less. Her proposal is so outrageous, indeed, that it deserves universal scorn from every one of her colleagues in Congress.

Unions continue to revolt over ObamaCare

Not only is the White House on defense over the delay of ObamaCare’s employer mandate and near constant stories about rising health insurance premiums, they now has to contend with increasing opposition to the law from labor unions.

The Wall Street Journal noted yesterday that the leaders of three prominent labor unions have sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, asking that they “fix” the law that they previously supported.

In the letter, the labor leaders — James Hoffa of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Joseph Hansen of the UFCW, and D. Taylor of UNITE-HERE — told Reid and Pelosi that the employer mandate has caused employer to scale back hours to avoid having to offer health insurance to employees.

“When you and the President sought our support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you pledged that if we liked the health plans we have now, we could keep them. Sadly, that promise is under threat,” wrote the labor leaders. “Right now, unless you and the Obama Administration enact an equitable fix, the [Affordable Care Act] will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”

The labor leaders noted they support the “all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care” and reminded Reid and Pelosi that they’ve supported Democratic Party candidates through raising money and providing volunteers for campaigns “to secure this vision.”

“Now, this vision has come back to haunt us,” continued the labor leaders.

Top 7 farm amendments House won’t be allowed to vote on

News broke earlier today that the House will proceed with consideration of a “farm only” Farm Bill this week after deciding to split the agriculture and nutrition portions. The combined package failed on the House floor last month after several key crop insurance reforms were narrowly defeated and additional food stamp cuts were added.

While conservatives long have supported bifurcating the bill in this manner, the early word is that the farm portion was going to be considered under a closed rule, meaning no amendments whatsoever would be considered. That’s why we at R Street spearheaded a coalition letter of more than 20 conservative and libertarian organizations and thought leaders urging the House to pursue an open process for the bill.

The entire point of splitting the bills in the first place was to secure more serious reforms than were possible in combined legislation, due to the unique rural-urban coalition that existed for the broad package. Splitting the bills and then immediately closing off any avenues to reform just defeats the purpose.

If the House pursues this method, here’s the top seven amendments that would improve policy substantially that they’ll never even get a chance to weigh in on. Most of these were simply stonewalled by the House Rules Committee; a few were withdrawn; and others were combined into a larger package that made it impossible to deal with them individually. What they all have in common is that they never received votes the last time around and never will if a farm-only bill truly proceeds under a closed rule.

House Republicans to drop food stamps from Farm Bill

After an embarrassing defeat last month, House Republican leaders have decided to separate food stamp funding from the Farm Bill in hopes that they can appease special interest groups lobbying for more taxpayer money:

House Republican leaders have decided to drop food stamps from the farm bill and are whipping the farm-only portion of the bill for a vote that will likely come this week, according to a GOP leadership aide.

The nutrition portion of the bill would be dealt with later.
[…]
House Agriculture Chairman Frank D. Lucas said Tuesday morning that he would support splitting the farm bill — as long as it can pass the House.

“I’m willing to do what it takes to get a farm bill done,” Lucas said as he exited a Republican Conference meeting Tuesday morning. “If that means doing it unconventionally, maybe we got to give it a try.”

Republican leadership has tried to blame everybody themselves, including Democrats and fiscal conservatives in the House, for the Farm Bill’s failure. Big spending, rank-and-file Republicans have also lashed out at fiscal conservatives for not voting for the bill.


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