Commentary Magazine


Democrats Try to Smother the Bad News

As I’ve noted during the week, the ObamaCare steamroller is already flattening the bottom lines of a number of large employers. Not content to see billions of losses pile up, the Democrats have now begun to berate employers for accurately accounting for the anticipated losses. The Wall Street Journal editors note:

Henry Waxman and House Democrats announced yesterday that they will haul these companies in for an April 21 hearing because their judgment “appears to conflict with independent analyses, which show that the new law will expand coverage and bring down costs.”

In other words, shoot the messenger. Black-letter financial accounting rules require that corporations immediately restate their earnings to reflect the present value of their long-term health liabilities, including a higher tax burden. Should these companies have played chicken with the Securities and Exchange Commission to avoid this politically inconvenient reality? Democrats don’t like what their bill is doing in the real world, so they now want to intimidate CEOs into keeping quiet.

On top of AT&T’s $1 billion, the writedown wave so far includes Deere & Co., $150 million; Caterpillar, $100 million; AK Steel, $31 million; 3M, $90 million; and Valero Energy, up to $20 million. Verizon has also warned its employees about its new higher health-care costs, and there will be many more in the coming days and weeks.

Well, this is par for the course: a complete disregard for the consequences of their own handiwork, the bullying of private enterprise, and the determination to politicize what were once economic and legal judgments. One can see in the Democrats’ fury the desperate attempt to conceal the implications of their monstrous legislation, to maintain as long as possible the fiction that ObamaCare is a great cost-saver, and boon to employers. It’s going to be hard to keep up the charade, for as the editors note, ObamaCare “was such a shoddy, jerry-rigged piece of work that the damage is coming sooner than even some critics expected.”

In that regard the adverse consequences of ObamaCare will likely be more apparent than those of the ill-conceived stimulus plan, which “merely” added to the ocean of red ink. How will shareholders, small-business owners, employees, and retirees react as they see the damage pile up, and learn that there is more in store if the bill is fully implemented? Well, they might find “Repeal and Replace!” an attractive message.