The Union Position On "Pass the Bill"

Steve Benen writes:

The pundits want the House to pass the Senate bill. Leading reform advocates want the House to pass the Senate bill. Major union leaders want the House to pass the Senate bill. [ . . .]

Either Benen did not read the link he provides or thinks people will not click the link. The title says it all:

Labor Coalesces: Pass Senate Health Care Bill, But Only If It's Fixed Quickly

The most influential labor organizations in the country have arrived at a common solution to the Democrats' health care conundrum: Move forward, pass the Senate bill through the House, but only if a separate, filibuster proof bill codifying a crucial changes is passed post haste.

But this is all silly nonsense anyway. The unions are perfectly capable of communicating their views to the Congress. Benen is wasting his time as an "activist" because he fails to mention the necessary companion fix via reconciliation. The House is well aware of labor's actual position.

The House will NEVER "pass the bill" until that fix is agreed to by the Senate. No matter how many times people write "Pass the Bill." Pretending that is not the case helps no one.

Speaking for me only

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    It's amazing... (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by pmj6 on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 02:41:15 PM EST
    ...that, given there's a stand-off between the House and the Senate in that neither wants to pass the other chamber's bill/modifications, the elite access prog-blogger opinion (in no particular order, Yglesias, Klein, Drum, Krugman, Bowers, Silver, others I couldn't think of) has unanimously opted for the worse of the two options (the Senate bill). What's the deal? On the one hand the rational is that evidently you can't pressure senators to support what the House produces, but when it comes to the House the same assumption no longer applies? Are they, like, paid to do this? Or is this all simply groupthink? Is Yglesias, for example, going to lose his nice salary if the Senate HCR bill fails? His recent tantrums suggest he's quite invested in that one particular outcome.

    because of the filibuster (none / 0) (#24)
    by RickTaylor on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 04:09:10 PM EST
    It's because of the bizarre situation in the senate, where 41 senators can kill any bill if the members stick together. Since there are 41 Republicans all seemingly to determined to kill any bill, if anyone's going to pass anything, it's going to be the House where all you need is a majority, and the majority are Democrats.

    Having said that, I don't understand why there isn't emphasis on pressuring the senate to improve the bill using reconciliation, as well as on the house to pass it. Both seem to be necessary. The House isn't about to pass the Senate bill based on promises to fix it later, or at least I don't think so. Progressives perhaps can be convinced to compromise in return for promises, but surely unions are going to demand something more concrete. At least that's my understanding at this point.


    Jeez - here we go with the (5.00 / 0) (#15)
    by Anne on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 02:58:34 PM EST
    "luminaries" again...has anyone reporting on these fabulous experts done any independent research on them?  I mean, some of these people have a vested interest in seeing the legislation pass; others are popular with the media for their commentary, some write for HuffPo, some have their own blogs, and so on.  

    But I guess all one has to do is attach the word "luminaries" to something and all of a sudden we're reaching for our sunglasses so as not to be blinded by the utter brilliance that emanates from it.  This wholesale parroting of nicely packaged talking points should be giving most people a distinct sense of déjà vu - seeing as how it's how we ended up in a needless war.  Oh, yay!  The Echo Chamber lives!  It's just so sloppy, disingenuous and self-serving, that it's making me ill.

    Good thing I have health insurance, huh?  

    It sure is a sad commentary on our elected representatives that we have to be talking about fixing something that not only hasn't been signed into law, but won't go into effect for years.  Sure, let's dig a terrible foundation, build a Dr. Seussian contraption on it, realize after a year of using substandard materials and poor design that it might collapse, and decide that all we can do now is sell it - with a cross-our-hearts-we'll-fix-it promise.  Yeah, that sounds like a great deal.

    We are being failed as we have never been failed before, and there are no signs that there will be any improvement; what has to happen for this to change?  What will it take?


    Btw, there are not a lot of economists (none / 0) (#26)
    by Cream City on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 04:50:53 PM EST
    on that list, as Anne no doubt knows, but in case others are interested.  I recognize the names of several whom I know whose areas of study, at least, would not suggest expertise on issues of the economy, health care, etc.

    Yes, vested interests in play in several cases, (none / 0) (#27)
    by KeysDan on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 05:53:00 PM EST
    it seems, particularly career advancement.  Health economists have been considered somewhat useful, but the legislation will stimulate their field for years to come.

    From TPM (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by jbindc on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 03:29:25 PM EST
    They are mocking Obama on healthcare.

    Oh my.

    Uh Oh (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by cawaltz on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 04:07:41 PM EST
    Another pom poms bit the dust.

    Someone pass the smelling salts over to Booman.


    Josh Marshall (none / 0) (#21)
    by BDB on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 03:55:45 PM EST
    PUMA.  Heh.

    The more you know this bill, (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by KeysDan on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 06:04:54 PM EST
    the less you love it, it seems.  The best thing going for it is that it is complex, difficult to understand and left unexplained.   As soon as some area of concern is pointed out and studied further,  such as the excise tax on "Cadillac" plans, it stumbles.

    The House will NEVER "pass the bill" (none / 0) (#1)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 02:15:17 PM EST
    good for the house.
    I am glad to hear you say this.  I was worried.
    someone somewhere needs to show some spine

    Query: (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 02:21:35 PM EST
    why they don't like it (none / 0) (#4)
    by CST on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 02:30:18 PM EST
    union members know non-union members, and while the leaders look out for thier own, the members are usually concerned about all working people.  If you think about it, when general wages/benefits go up for non-union members, union-members have a stronger foot to stand on when bargaining for themselves.

    And it could turn the public against unions as well, kind of like the Nebraska compromise from people who think it isn't fair.  So it would be harder for politicians to support unions in the future on other issues.


    My former bargaining unit never demoed (none / 0) (#7)
    by oculus on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 02:35:09 PM EST
    such altruism.  

    in their own self interest (none / 0) (#11)
    by CST on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 02:40:45 PM EST
    as well.  They need politicians on their side, and to get politicians, they need the public on their side.

    Please tell the unions (none / 0) (#13)
    by Cream City on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 02:48:27 PM EST
    in my workplace so.  I'm in the only group banned by law from collective bargaining.  We often have been hurt by our union co-workers as much as by our employer.  Happened again just a few months ago.

    But my group just now got rid of the law that banned us from bargaining rights.  So we soon will have the vote on whether to form a union, too.  

    I hope so -- but I tell you, it will be interesting to see what will happen then, if the other unions need us.  There may be a lot of sentiment for payback.


    Found out that just 7.4 million (none / 0) (#29)
    by Politalkix on Sat Jan 23, 2010 at 12:27:57 AM EST
    unionized workers remain in the private sector, i.e. 7.2% of the private sector workforce. link. HCR is supposed to provide coverage to over 30 million people who do not have health insurance now.  

    And (none / 0) (#32)
    by jbindc on Sat Jan 23, 2010 at 09:05:00 AM EST
    7.9 million are in the government sector.  Union membership is down to about 12.1% of the total working population and falling.

    A separate bill whose main purpose is to fix the (none / 0) (#3)
    by steviez314 on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 02:27:19 PM EST
    excise tax is SO not going to go over well with the independent voters.

    If anyhting happens, I think it's going to be in the back room with winks.  Otherwise, nada.

    why do you think indies love (none / 0) (#5)
    by observed on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 02:32:27 PM EST
    the excise tax?

    No one reason. After all (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Cream City on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 02:49:52 PM EST
    if Indies wanted to be part of groupthink, they'd join one of those political groups called parties.

    They just don't love any special deals--look (none / 0) (#6)
    by steviez314 on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 02:33:22 PM EST
    how upset they are about the Nebraska payoff.

    The excise tax is not (5.00 / 3) (#16)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 03:00:56 PM EST
    a "special deal," it will affect more and more middle class people.  The excise tax is one of the things the indies have been most po'd about.

    I think Steve (none / 0) (#17)
    by CST on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 03:26:13 PM EST
    is talking about the "special deal" which would have exempted unions and federal employees from the excise tax, while keeping it in place for everyone else.

    The deal the unions negotiated (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by esmense on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 03:47:15 PM EST
    raised the threshold at which the excise tax kicks in (for everyone, not just their members) and made adjustments to the formula based on age and gender (older women, union or not, especially those with pre-existing or chronic conditions, are a group especially likely hit by the excise tax). So they weren't negotiating exclusively in their members interest.

    Agreed (none / 0) (#20)
    by CST on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 03:49:11 PM EST
    but the provision exempting unions comes off as a special deal, regardless of what else they bargained for.

    And the decision to finance reform (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by esmense on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 04:09:33 PM EST
    with an excise tax aimed at working people, in order to avoid taxing the affluent, doesn't strike anyone as a special deal?

    Another question: Anything done under (none / 0) (#8)
    by steviez314 on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 02:37:05 PM EST
    reconciliation has to be renewed in 5 years anyway.  The excise tax doesn't kick in for 3 years.

    So this whole argument revolves around 2 years-2013 and 2014.

    The excise tax might even come back in 2015 or 2016 if the Republicans are in charge.

    And in the meantime, they could pass a jobs bill (none / 0) (#9)
    by steviez314 on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 02:38:16 PM EST
    which cuts the payroll tax, and raises taxes on the wealthy.

    Good grief (none / 0) (#10)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 02:38:35 PM EST
    I don't think I've ever seen so many people on a suicide mission at one time. Did these pundits all of a sudden become possessed by the spirit of dead Kamikaze pilots or what?

    I think we have a new acronym: PTDB (pass the d*amn bill) so the pundits/toddlers scream.

    You've been a trooper on this BTD... (none / 0) (#22)
    by kindness on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 04:03:01 PM EST
    I think you are wise to lay off commenting over at Balloon Juice lately.  They've taken this just a tad far.

    The really sad part about the HCR thing is that it seems like the same mess that progressives got into during the Hillary/Barack primary wars.

    Balloon Juice (none / 0) (#30)
    by Mr Furious on Sat Jan 23, 2010 at 08:45:25 AM EST
    What exactly is "Taking this a tad too far?"

    Calling Congress and asking House members to pass the Senate bill and calling Senate members to commit to a reconciliation fix?

    Since the alternative is scrapping the whole thing and getting nothing, I'd call that the more sensible course.

    I HATE the Senate bill, and I blame the Senate for the situation we're in more than any other player involved--though there is plenty to go around (I'm looking at you on the sidelines--still, Obama). But we're now left with a choice of crappy reform or no reform.


    PAss the Bill (none / 0) (#31)
    by Mr Furious on Sat Jan 23, 2010 at 08:48:05 AM EST
    BTD, I'm not sure where the dissonance in Benen's post is. Every party he cites is advocating the same thing--pass the Senate bill and fix in reconciliation.

    Your point hangs on the fact that the union wants it "post haste?" Everyone does.