Teamsters Cave On Public Option

Teamsters head James Hoffa capitulates on the public option:

Teamsters President James Hoffa said dropping the so-called public option wouldn’t be a “deal killer” for health-care legislation, signaling a split among leaders of unions that are a core constituency of President Barack Obama. “We’ve got to find out what’s doable,” Hoffa, head of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” which airs today. “I think it’s important to get something done this time and declare a victory.”

(Emphasis supplied.) The funny thing is that Hoffa declares card check (EFCA), which is absolutely dead, a deal breaker. The AFL-CIO, through its future head Richard Trumka, has declared a robust public option a must, and its absence a deal breaker with the AFL-CIO and Democrats. The Teamsters are part of the union coalition Change To Win. Hoffa's statement puts pressure on the other unions in the coalition, especially SEIU's Andy Stern (who claims to be a leader in the health care reform fight, see EmptyWheel on Stern's muddled message so far), to make their position on the public option clear.

Speaking for me only

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    Geez (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by cawaltz on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 11:39:05 AM EST
    and I was hoping that they would hold up. Just once it would be nice to see our side hold the line on an argument instead of folding like a cheap umbrella.

    Looks like we need some UUMAs (5.00 / 5) (#9)
    by Cream City on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 11:41:01 AM EST
    aka Union Unity, My A**.  But unions that do not unite are not a good thing -- and if this White House is going to split unions even more than it did in the campaign, that's another blow to the working class.  That would be the class increasingly without work, of course, so it may need a new name, too.

    Pfft (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by Steve M on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 12:40:19 PM EST
    There are two ways you can get to be the head of a major labor union: (1) be a good negotiator, or (2) be named Jimmy Hoffa.  I give this one a big what-evah.

    I never understood why the unions would care. (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by s5 on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 09:36:12 PM EST
    Don't they all have fancy negotiated benefit packages anyway? The public option does zero for them.

    Now, for me, as an independent business owner, I absolutely need the public option. Even if I don't sign up for it, I need it to exist to keep my current individual plan from going through another round of tripling premiums.

    well (none / 0) (#1)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 11:27:25 AM EST
    thats probably the final nail, huh?

    It is certainly a bad sign.

    must be (none / 0) (#12)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 11:42:09 AM EST
    some of those "demands" David Gregory was talking about this morning on Joe.

    Was it cash or a check? (none / 0) (#3)
    by Dadler on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 11:32:30 AM EST

    No idea (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 11:33:46 AM EST
    Hoffa's incentives in saying what he said are not at all apparent to me.

    If he thinks this is going to get him card check, then he is the stupidest man on Earth.


    I am really sorry for saying this. (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by ghost2 on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 02:08:13 PM EST
    And I mean it.  I shouldn't bring the primary battles all the time.

    But it proves to me why Obama was the media, the Beltway establishment (and the stealth corporate) darling.  He could stare his own side to submission.  That was his value to them.

    Sadly, it's being proven everyday.  


    I agree (none / 0) (#14)
    by Dadler on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 11:46:41 AM EST
    Sort of baffling at this point.  

    Sooo (none / 0) (#4)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 11:32:31 AM EST
    cement overshoes for the public option, ehhhh Guido?

    (sorry ;-)

    Daschle (none / 0) (#6)
    by waldenpond on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 11:37:02 AM EST
    isn't Daschle due descend on AFL-CIO and SEIU with 'stakeholders?'  I can't remember where I read it.

    I'm sorry but (none / 0) (#35)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 04:20:31 PM EST
    I have no idea what that sentence means.  There's a typo in there somewhere, but I can't figure out where.

    Could you try that again?


    Wow...just...wow. (none / 0) (#8)
    by Faust on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 11:39:06 AM EST

    What's disgusting is you know (none / 0) (#10)
    by magster on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 11:41:16 AM EST
    Rahm is high-fiving people in the White House after this "victory" of forcing Teamsters to cave.

    BTW: did you see the grim poll #'s on Kos? (none / 0) (#11)
    by magster on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 11:42:07 AM EST

    But the base (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 11:45:46 AM EST
    "has nowhere else to go!"

    Really! (wink)


    True story (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by Faust on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 11:49:35 AM EST
    Here is a fact. When an extremely milquetoast fellow like me is angry enough to consider abandoning the democratic party if they screw this up then you know that a watershed moment has been reached. Yes it's true. I'm so boringly average I'm representative.

    Seriouly: if they screw this up I'm out. I will let this $hit burn down, as it's clear nothing else will serve as a wakeup call.


    It hit me sooner than it did you... (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by oldpro on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 06:38:51 PM EST
    when the party couldn't even hold a rollcall vote at a national convention.  Not my Democratic Party.  Not any more.

    We all have different breaking points but keep in mind that it's not only about a wakeup call...in my experience (55 years!) the party does not answer wakeup calls...it's also about your self respect and autonomy and when you just have to finally say, "No!  No more."


    This is (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by andgarden on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 11:49:54 AM EST
     "nobody could have predicted" territory

    Except some of us (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by cawaltz on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 11:58:57 AM EST
    DID predict......D'oh. Fat lot of good it does us of course. Watching this unfold is painful because some of us are of the opinion that predictable equals preventable.

    At this point I just want the circular firing squad to shoot me and put me out of my misery.


    Well (none / 0) (#28)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 01:08:45 PM EST
    what are they?

    The momentum changes every other day (none / 0) (#17)
    by magster on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 11:52:34 AM EST
    Yesterday was good, with Pelosi, the CPC letter, DeGette and Schankowski making strong statements, the day before sucked, and today is off to a bad start.

    Hopefully the final vote is on an up day.

    LOL (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by cawaltz on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 12:00:12 PM EST
    Do you think they are flipping coins. Heads: get their hopes up Tails: Make em' miserable.

    Another point. (none / 0) (#33)
    by ghost2 on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 02:12:20 PM EST
    Doesn't this remind you again of the primary campain?

    As soon as Hillary had a victory, the Obama team will bring some new endorsement, along with shrill calls for Hillary to concede.

    The parallels are interesting, are they not?  Why would Hoffa make his annoucement just after Pelosi breathes a little hope for the Public Option?


    didn't Trumka just take a line in the sand stand (none / 0) (#18)
    by jeffinalabama on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 11:53:56 AM EST
    for the public option? Or did I hallucinate?

    Dunno but (none / 0) (#37)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 04:22:29 PM EST
    he's supposed to be on Matthews this evening, so maybe we'll find out. There's at least a chance that Hoffa's comments were the musings of a guy on his way out and not an actual change in union policy.

    Liberals should not support this plan (none / 0) (#21)
    by MyLeftMind on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 12:19:32 PM EST
    We should let this so-called health care reform bill fail, then resubmit a more progressive version, as follows:
    1. Make our currently existing single payer health care, Medicaid, available to all public employees across the nation.  We already know exactly what it costs us to insure the nation's teachers, police officers, federal, state, county and other public employees.  Charge about 90% of what public agencies currently pay to insurance companies (which suck away much more than 10% of the current cost).  With the extra funds coming into Medicaid, increase the quality and scope of healthcare by covering things that currently aren't paid for by Medicaid.  
    2. Offer the same program to all businesses with employees:  Charge companies whatever their local public agencies are paying per employee.
    3. Add elected officials to Medicaid, including members of Congress.
    4. Use some of the huge influx of funds into the Medicaid system to cover more of the nation's poor, with additional funds added over time to achieve the goal of universal health care.
    5. Rename this new version of Medicaid to The American Health Care System (TAHCS), or give it some other catchy, positive title.

    With this better plan, our nation's companies and public agencies would see enormous savings, and the additional funds available for production would stimulate the economy.  Insurance companies could still cover business that choose not to utilize TAHCS.  They could compete by lowering their profits, or not.  The beauty of this strategy is that Congress would have incentive to make this system work, since elected members would have the exact same insurance as the rest of us. The current bill creates disincentive because members of Congress want/need to ensure the insurance industry continues to reap huge profits so senators and representatives can keep their high level of health care and payoffs from lobbyists.  This new strategy undermines disincentive in Congress. Best of all, conservatives will recognize that TAHCS actually saves us money, so they won't resist implementation.  Fiscal conservatives are against huge government initiatives that will cost all of us more money.  TAHCS is a plan that both the left and right wing will support.

    There's no point trying to force a public option on top of a poorly designed government boondoggle that simply props up the insurance industry at the expense of the rest of us.  Instead, let's create some real change that all of us can believe in!

    Worth a try, but don't count on (none / 0) (#24)
    by ruffian on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 12:38:35 PM EST


    Best of all, conservatives will recognize that TAHCS actually saves us money, so they won't resist implementation.  Fiscal conservatives are against huge government initiatives that will cost all of us more money.  TAHCS is a plan that both the left and right wing will support.

    The conservatives will not support it no matter how much sense it makes. Not gonna happen.


    Business owners who are fiscally conservative (none / 0) (#26)
    by MyLeftMind on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 12:54:50 PM EST
    will see an immediate decrease in the employee benefits costs.  They'll support this by buying it because it lowers their costs.  

    The key is to keep the Medicaid portion of it (free health care for the poor) separate, so that if it doesn't work, it can be scaled back.  That's actually how it's handled now.  States get a certain amount of money, and when they run out, they have to reduce coverage.

    Most conservatives don't want our government to create a new healthcare/welfare system that encourages intergenerational dependence from people who deliberately stay impoverished. Clearly not all poor people choose to be in that state, but when the government makes it easier to be on the dole than supporting yourself, your family and society in general, more and more people take the easier path. We can still achieve universal healthcare with this plan because over time we reap the benefits of not paying insurance company overhead and investors' profits.

    History has shown us that when the government takes from the middle class and gives to the poor, we end up with a backlash from moderates and the right wing who then elect the likes of Nixon, Reagan and Bush I and II. That is exactly what will happen again if the current plan in Congress is passed, with or without a public option.

    This alternative plan will succeed without supporting obscene insurance industry profits, will stimulate the economy and will further our progressive goal of universal healthcare.


    Hoffa vs. Andy...what else is new? (none / 0) (#22)
    by oldpro on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 12:21:25 PM EST
    Back to union power politics and the He11 with the country.

    Well, happy Labor Day (none / 0) (#23)
    by ruffian on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 12:33:04 PM EST
    to him, too.

    Hope he got something good in return. He is supposed to be a professional negotiator, after all.

    labor unions (none / 0) (#27)
    by Dr Molly on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 01:06:21 PM EST
    have sadly been irrelevant for liberal causes for quite some time now.

    To heck wid' 'em. (none / 0) (#29)
    by magnetics on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 01:24:57 PM EST
    DIdn't they endorse Reagan in 1980?

    I hope that's snark... (none / 0) (#31)
    by jeffinalabama on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 01:58:14 PM EST
    but I can't tell any more.

    It's true (5.00 / 2) (#34)
    by Steve M on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 03:03:00 PM EST
    The Teamsters also endorsed Nixon in 1972, but McGovern had well-documented problems with labor.  The endorsement of Reagan was much more controversial and left the Teamsters standing pretty much alone among their labor brethren.

    Well (none / 0) (#30)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 01:28:55 PM EST
    next expect to start hearing that Pelosi has caved. Then it's be x, y and z has caved. Pretty soon we'll be left with a crappy bill.

    You misunderstand Pelosi (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 04:25:58 PM EST
    She didn't say she personally insists on a public option, she said a bill without it will not pass the House.  She's not declaring intention, she's stating a fact.  If she changes that, it will only be because  of major erosion in the votes she can get for it in the House.

    I'll say it again (none / 0) (#39)
    by cawaltz on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 04:54:08 PM EST
    All hail the progressive caucus the only thing standing between us and health insurance reform that is solely for the benefit of health insurance companies.

    Every night I pray that they don't blink.


    No (none / 0) (#41)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 04:56:47 PM EST
    acutally I did understand what she said. What I meant was that I'm afraid of the domino effect.

    OK, but (none / 0) (#45)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 11:11:35 PM EST
    let's be careful about the "Pelosi caves" thing because that's not what's going on.  I think she's taken a lot of unfair heat on a lot of issues (not all of them, but a lot of them) the Dems have caved on and it's been blamed on her because she's been counting the votes.

    The "trigger" (none / 0) (#36)
    by KeysDan on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 04:22:28 PM EST
    will be the Pelosi escape hatch. The bill in big letters: Public Option Included; small letters, based on a trigger; smaller letters; trigger in seven years, after full implementation date (beyond 2016); very, very small letters, a state-by-state trigger based on insurance industry data.

    Well (none / 0) (#40)
    by catmandu on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 04:55:08 PM EST
    The only reason the Federal employee unions back a public option is because the Pres promised that fed employees would not have to have it.  They get to choose between private insurers.  The unions have a big pull when they provide good health insurance in the contracts.
    I was really getting my hopes up when I heard Obama's speech in Mexico.  He stated that his healthcare options would involve private insurers, and not be like Canada's health plan.
    It would be "uniquely" American and better!
    I love that man's speeches!

    Nobody "has to" have anything (none / 0) (#43)
    by FreakyBeaky on Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 07:29:23 PM EST
    The word is "option."

    My union, part of the AFL-CIO, (none / 0) (#46)
    by Wile ECoyote on Sat Sep 05, 2009 at 06:43:54 PM EST
    has been against the public option the entire time.  Their reasoning- we have spent alot of time negotiating medical benefits our members want and they don't want the members to lose those bennies.