Commentary Magazine


Topic: House’s government

Re: Promises? What Promises?

The confab between Obama and Big Labor bosses didn’t exactly go swimmingly. It seems ObamaCare is not living up to Big Labor’s expectations:

The final bill will not include the House’s government-run insurance plan, or “public option”; it will probably include the Senate’s new tax on high-cost health plans that could affect many union members. …

Three hours earlier, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a hard-edged speech at the National Press Club that discontent with the final bill, when combined with a general perception that Obama and Congress have been insufficiently populist in responding to the recession and financial crisis, could demoralize his members. The risk, he said, was a replay of the Democratic blowout in the 1994 elections, when, after the passage of NAFTA and other disappointments to unions, “there was no way to persuade enough working Americans to go to the polls when they couldn’t tell the difference between the two parties.”

Big Labor’s distaste for the bill is not so strong as to warrant the union bosses’ outright opposition to the bill — though it’s hard to see why they wouldn’t oppose a measure that focuses  taxes on many union members without any obvious benefit. Nevertheless, the warning of unenthusiasm in 2010 is not an empty or insignificant threat. Considering the millions poured into Democratic coffers and the get-out-the-vote efforts on behalf of Obama and congressional candidates in 2008, it’s no small thing for Big Labor to threaten to sit on its collective hands. Democrats in virtually all polls show a lower level of enthusiasm than do Republicans, who are fired up and eager to throw the rascals out.

So once again we return to the colossal political inanity of ObamaCare. It’s the rare piece of legislation that has inflamed and energized the opposition, and depressed and divided its supporters. Republicans are fortunate indeed. Now we’ll see what, if anything, they can make of the opportunity presented by their opponents.

The confab between Obama and Big Labor bosses didn’t exactly go swimmingly. It seems ObamaCare is not living up to Big Labor’s expectations:

The final bill will not include the House’s government-run insurance plan, or “public option”; it will probably include the Senate’s new tax on high-cost health plans that could affect many union members. …

Three hours earlier, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a hard-edged speech at the National Press Club that discontent with the final bill, when combined with a general perception that Obama and Congress have been insufficiently populist in responding to the recession and financial crisis, could demoralize his members. The risk, he said, was a replay of the Democratic blowout in the 1994 elections, when, after the passage of NAFTA and other disappointments to unions, “there was no way to persuade enough working Americans to go to the polls when they couldn’t tell the difference between the two parties.”

Big Labor’s distaste for the bill is not so strong as to warrant the union bosses’ outright opposition to the bill — though it’s hard to see why they wouldn’t oppose a measure that focuses  taxes on many union members without any obvious benefit. Nevertheless, the warning of unenthusiasm in 2010 is not an empty or insignificant threat. Considering the millions poured into Democratic coffers and the get-out-the-vote efforts on behalf of Obama and congressional candidates in 2008, it’s no small thing for Big Labor to threaten to sit on its collective hands. Democrats in virtually all polls show a lower level of enthusiasm than do Republicans, who are fired up and eager to throw the rascals out.

So once again we return to the colossal political inanity of ObamaCare. It’s the rare piece of legislation that has inflamed and energized the opposition, and depressed and divided its supporters. Republicans are fortunate indeed. Now we’ll see what, if anything, they can make of the opportunity presented by their opponents.

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