Why The Excise Tax Is Political Poison


Labor groups are furious with the Democrats they helped put in office — and are threatening to stay home this fall when Democratic incumbents will need their help fending off Republican challengers. [. . .] John Gage, the national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 600,000 workers[, said] "It's really frustrating for labor, and a lot of union people are thinking: We put out big time in money and volunteers and support. And it seems like the little things that could have been aren't being done."

[. . .] Union leaders warn that the Democrats' lackluster performance in power is sapping the morale of activists going into the midterm elections. "Right now if we don’t get positive changes to the agenda, we’re going to have a hard time getting members out to work," said United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard, in an interview. “There’s no use pretending any longer.”

Rahmbo's approach has failed and House Dems will not cross the unions. It's every person for himself now. The excise tax in the Senate bill must be fixed or there will be no health bill. Period.

Speaking for me only

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    "There's no use pretending any longer." (none / 0) (#1)
    by SeeEmDee on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 08:49:06 AM EST
    Yes, pretending. Pretending that the Investor Class was going to allow for a real challenge to their power?

    Perhaps that's why Obama met with them on June 6-8 2008 in Chantilly, Virginia? To ensure no such challenge?

    Get it straight. He's not 'yours' and he never was. He's theirs.

    I keep thinking (none / 0) (#2)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 09:17:52 AM EST
    Obama and this congress is going to wake up.
    it would not surprise me if the only thing they accomplish between now and next january is getting rid of the 60 vote threshold so republicans can turn the country into a bananna republic police state.

    I kept thinking that too (none / 0) (#6)
    by kmblue on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 09:32:13 AM EST
    through the Mass election, Obama's remarks about the banksters yesterday, the polls regarding health care, and so on.  I've given up.

    The Republicans have a base too that (none / 0) (#7)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 09:32:39 AM EST
    they abandoned.  It was a base that John McCain used to serve.  That base will not condone a banana republic, but that part of the base I think has gone mostly independent now with the Evangelical takeover of the party and now all the ensuing crazy.  We are seeing this happen to the Democrat base now too. I don't fear Banana Republic, the new Indies from both bases won't have it and you have to have them to get elected.

    Im not so sure. (none / 0) (#9)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 09:37:48 AM EST
    there are a few indies who are real libertarians but I think most of them would be fine with a banana republic as long as they had theirs.
    most tea baggers call themselves independents because the republicans are to liberal for them.

    our country is f**ked.


    I won't argue with you that most tea (none / 0) (#18)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 09:55:58 AM EST
    baggers are Coo Coo for CoCoa Puffs, that sort of fanaticism has always been out there and it is very knee jerk and they'll just show up to a "meeting".  They are the fringe though.  What isn't so swell is that nobody likes what is happening so in an attempt to figure out what to do the tea baggers will and are getting air time.  They have no solutions though either....they are nothing more than blah blah blah talking points that crazy grandpas taught them all to repeat.  God forbid if grandpa ever turned out to be wrong, their whole world would shatter.  It is the quiet among the Republican party that pisses me off almost as much as the quiet of the Democratic party does during times like these.  They know what needs to be done, they know what needs to happen, but all the crazies are throwing tantrums and vandalizing cars and sane people just don't choose to debate the crazies.  I think we have come to the point though that we are all going to have to debate the noisy freaking out wild eyed crazies.

    I am afraid I think those days (none / 0) (#22)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:05:44 AM EST
    are long gone.  when  John Danforth or his like would stand up and tell the truth to the nutso base.
    far from setting them straight they are embracing them.  and will continue to do so.  just look at the completely idiotic statements about how the titanic snowpocalypse on the east coast is the final nail in the coffin of "global warming".  no less than three prominent republicans were out pushing this meme in the last day or two.
    they know its bull.  it is a total sop to the crazies.  they are playing to them and will continue to.  and they have no shame whatsoever.
    Granpa proven wrong?! forget it.  he is proven wrong 10 times a day.  it doesnt matter.  they have their own reality created by world net daily and foxnews and anything that contradicts that is a librul plot.

    Global warming means that (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:19:32 AM EST
    we all have to change and we have to change a lot.  I can do it.  I think change is healthy, beating back that alzheimers.  There is probably about 50% of the human population though that will not change unless they must.  God the military is full of them.  People who need a provided framework to function in are automatically drawn to the military because everything is all neatly drawn out what to do and what not to do......change upsets a lot of them A LOT but they will tough it out because that was neatly written into the framework too.  Change is just terrifying to some people.  I'm glad to change, particularly if there is a long term bonus of any kind that comes with changing. Others are so scared of change they will look for every possible way to avoid going there and make the most ridiculous arguments.  The South itself is all about tradition.  Tradition is built up around here like something finer than gold.  Change down here has been beaten into all the children's heads as your identity being taken from you.  I think tradition is little more than something done repeatedly for more than three times but them's fightin words down here :)

    they say "tradition" (none / 0) (#27)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:24:53 AM EST
    I say laziness and inertia.  and sometimes bigotry.



    Lots of bigotry honey (none / 0) (#32)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:37:10 AM EST
    That itself is a tradition :)  I think there is hope though in the naming and serving of one microbrew beer at time though down here.  

    Excuse me? (none / 0) (#40)
    by cawaltz on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 12:35:41 PM EST
    Everyone functions with framework. Our government calls them laws. Regular workspaces call them rules. Opining that the military is structurally filled with people who want someone to tell them what to do is way off. Most people in the military are there to perform a function. They consider that function important. Why they are there has little to do with wanting a framework that frankly really is not that much different then the framework most of us must operate in is besides the point.

    I would agree though that tradition often does stand in the way of change. People have to be convinced that change is in their better interest to turn away from a traditional approach. Why? There is fear when you are not certain of results. That would go for any group though, not just military folk.

    One thing I have learned from life though id change is inevitable whether we fight it or move with it things are going to change around us. It's just the nature of things.


    I'm not saying that their function (none / 0) (#43)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 01:11:26 PM EST
    isn't important, I'm the last person to say that. I had this talk with our friend who is a military psychologist though and he says that personalitywise it is so, people who have a need to be told when to get up, when to eat, when to sleep, etc....are very attracted to the military.  The way that you express yourself on a blog though, there is no way you fit that description...nor do I.  We know what we think and how we want to live our lives.  My husband on the other hand receives great comfort from the structure that the military provides.  And now that he is approaching retirement with all of these other soldiers.....well, many soldiers have to attend a sort of transitional counseling with a therapist because it terrifies them to wake up one morning and do whatever they want to do that day.  They have no idea how to do that and it scares them to death and in many cases it probably always has.

    I think anyone who has done something they enjoy (none / 0) (#47)
    by cawaltz on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 02:56:37 PM EST
    (or maybe even something they don't necessarily enjoy) for 30 years is going to have difficulty adjusting at first. The stories of retired men driving their wives batty because they don't know what to do with themselves is far from restricted to the military ranks.

    Pat him on the hand MT and tell him he'll still be able to get up at 5:30 and go to bed at 10:00 pm if that is what he wishes. There is still plenty of structure in the outside sector. Lots of forms to fill out when you go to offices for care and a wait at the offices to boot. Heck, he may even find as I did that the military actually has LESS parameters placed upon it then the civilian sector because they can't and don't fire/hire at will and they don't have the liability issues that the private sector has. In the military I practically was functioning as a Pharmacist on many occasions, in the civilian sector just to funcion as a technician I have requirements I need to meet. Telling a boss in the military I felt he was wrong was waaaaaaaaay easier knowing it wouldn't cost me my job. In the civilian sector it's a crap shoot. As far as actual participation in process, perhaps I am an anomoly, but I felt I had way more input in midlevel management in the military then I did at a business like Walmart or even at Montgomery Regional.

    I guess different services may not be the same. Other than the time commitment the military requires(logging in a 60 hour work week is pretty much the norm and that is tame as compared to deploying away from home for months)I didn't find the military stucturally confining at all. If it weren't for the family aspect I probably would have done 30 years. I did seem to have extraordinary luck though in the military with getting extremely good commands with decent bosses who saw me as capable and set me loose.


    When you are a soldier you don't (none / 0) (#48)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 06:01:44 PM EST
    get to quit your job if you don't like it and you aren't allowed to disagree with your boss unless what you are being told to do is illegal and if and when you do that you had better be fully prepared to take a very very hard hit if other authority figures don't agree that it was illegal.  You had better be prepared to go to jail for that.  You dress identically the same as everyone else.  To observe the exact same social protocol as everyone else.  Failure to observe protocol is subject to punishment unseen in the civilian world.  In basic training people yell in your face and you just stand there and take it and you do not wipe the spit off.  You know that you may be stripped from your family for any length of time without any sort of notice just because you are ordered to by the authority figures that frame the structure you live by.  Sorry, but it isn't like any sort of civilian job out there.  Not everyone can even attempt to live this way, and some people thrive in this environment because the rules are clearly and deeply outlines every single day come rain or shine.

    Tradition! (none / 0) (#49)
    by Molly Pitcher on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 08:11:45 PM EST
    MT, tradition has not had a total hold on the south.  There do exist those danged idjits from Appalachia--the 'southron hillbillies' who took up arms against each other in the 'late unpleasantness' so that brother killed brother and father killed son.  We've learned to live a bit more peaceably since then, but if 'authority' says 'do it this way,' we do it 'that way.'  If the rest of the state votes one way, we vote another--even if we are called 'racist' for not getting in line behind someone we don't trust.

    Tis true (none / 0) (#50)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:19:17 PM EST
    I come across a rebel of the rebels now and again.  I like Birmingham and Atlanta because I can find lots of those kinds of rebels.  I tend to live in a sort Southern bubble where I am, but I get out every chance I can even though it is only mostly two lane roads to escape on.

    of course there are pockets (none / 0) (#51)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 09:58:23 AM EST
    and contrarians.  but there is a reason the new republican party is based in the south.
    and I am from the south.

    republicans and the south (none / 0) (#52)
    by Molly Pitcher on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 03:13:10 PM EST
    The republicans have always had a southern base--the mountain folk (Lincoln called them 'my people') stood pretty strongly for the union and were still voting republican for state and local offices in my lifetime.  Those bigots who resisted integration are simply johnny-come-latelies.

    Obama and Congress are wide awake... (none / 0) (#44)
    by kdog on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 01:14:24 PM EST
    it is the citizenry that is sleeping...so deep in sleep you could call it a coma.

    for some reason (none / 0) (#46)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 01:37:04 PM EST
    I flashed Monty Python

    "they are not dead.  they are sleeping."


    The union carve-out (none / 0) (#3)
    by BTAL on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 09:23:04 AM EST
    is in direct violation of the 10th Amendment.  The excise tax in and of itself is not.

    Not having an excise tax (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 09:54:52 AM EST
    violates nothing.

    I honetsly think (none / 0) (#24)
    by Salo on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:18:59 AM EST
    there's a fifth column of suicide "progressives".

    "We are crack suicide squad of the People's Front of Organizing for America! Suicide squad--draw your excise tax."

    "oh you silly Bastards..."


    Correct (none / 0) (#28)
    by BTAL on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:26:25 AM EST
    That is a valid and defendable argument.

    and the (none / 0) (#4)
    by BTAL on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 09:24:24 AM EST
    14th Amendment of equal protection.

    For the record (none / 0) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 09:56:03 AM EST
    These are silly arguments with no legal basis.

    It may be bad politics, but it is certainly legal and constitutional.

    But the reality is if they can't do union carve outs, then they will need to take the excise tax out.


    The Equal Protection clause (none / 0) (#23)
    by BTAL on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:15:11 AM EST
    is the basis to protect citizen's rights based on race, gender, etc.  Why the blind eye based upon employment?  Demanding that two people in the exact same economic situation be taxed differently solely because one is a member of a union blatantly violates the spirit, intent and rule of the 14th Amendment.

    There's a breach of contract (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Salo on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:21:00 AM EST
    with those who put him in the white house. They will happily abandon the guy as he abandoned them to keep in the good graces of Bloomberg and the gang.

    Whether you agree with the blind eye or not (none / 0) (#29)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:27:58 AM EST
    the EPC does not cover employment status as a classification.

    SCOTUS has (none / 0) (#34)
    by BTAL on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:44:57 AM EST
    consistently ruled on the legality of different taxation based on different CLASSES that can be reasonably identified.  Membership vs non-membership in a union (especially when said membership may be forced upon the individual) is not a valid designation a CLASS.

    Well (none / 0) (#36)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:48:38 AM EST
    Good luck with your case on that one.

    You'll lose.


    Someone, anyone....please (none / 0) (#5)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 09:28:34 AM EST
    explain to me how the House has some Democrats in it who have the party platform at heart and how Senate Democrats are nothing more than a bunch of whores.  Is there less pressure on a Senator to actually serve the constituency or something, do they think they will suffer fewer consequences?  Are they all just arrogant idiots in the Senate?  I mean, I watched the Republican ones blow up their party and base, but now I'm watching the Dems do it too?

    the senate is the place where one person (none / 0) (#8)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 09:34:11 AM EST
    can usually stop anything.  so that is where the money goes.  they are bought and paid for before they even get elected.  and the same people own both parties.

    if they would just do something about campaign financing it would go such a long way to fixing what is wrong with the government.
    they could still be bought once they are in office of course but at least they would start out with a bit of independence.


    Thank you for explaining to me (none / 0) (#11)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 09:46:55 AM EST
    from where a Senator's rock solid dictatorlike ignorant arrogance can come from.

    The union carve-out (none / 0) (#10)
    by richj25 on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 09:40:44 AM EST
    is a horrible idea. The Dems may as well put a gun
    to their heads because the Republicans will beat on
    that like a cheap drum for years. There's no prin-
    cipled reason why the unions shouldn't pay, they
    just don't want to. Its understandable, nobody likes
    paying taxes but most of us don't have the leverage
    to force congress to make a special exception just
    for us.

    The excise tax will have to go then (none / 0) (#16)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 09:54:16 AM EST
    You can't pass the bill without union support.

    Not quite right (none / 0) (#37)
    by richj25 on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 11:29:53 AM EST
    They can pass the bill without union support, they
    just can't get re-elected without union support.
    They need the union money for their campaigns and
    they need union people to knock on door and man
    the phone banks. Carving out a special tax exemption
    for union people is dangerously close to being a
    blatant payoff.

    As opposed to what (none / 0) (#41)
    by cawaltz on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 12:40:12 PM EST
    The blatant payoff of tax write offs for the top 1% that are enjoyed under Republican rule.

    I personally can not wait to see the Republicans beat that drum.

    They want a class war with the working class when 80% of the collective is on the bottom, I say bring it on.


    I don't see your point (none / 0) (#45)
    by richj25 on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 01:33:31 PM EST
    I've been getting screwed by rich people so I should
    look at getting screwed by unions as what? A nice
    change of pace? Is that all the last election was
    about? An exchange of one set of narrow special
    interests for another? Its not exactly the change
    I was hoping for.

    Obama certainly didn't go in with much union (none / 0) (#13)
    by Salo on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 09:50:21 AM EST
    support when he ran. So he probably reckons he doesn't need them NOW and may even see them as a threat to his own power.  Indeed the expectations generated by having the House and Senate in Democratic hands may be seen as a threat to his re-election bid.

    what? (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 09:51:48 AM EST

    What the hell happened (none / 0) (#21)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 09:58:13 AM EST
    in Nevada and how can someone just completely miss all that?  When I think about that, Reid is fried!  He doesn't even seem to care either.

    Yes, please (none / 0) (#15)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 09:53:12 AM EST
    get the union carve out out of the way so we can go back to talking about how mandates without REAL cost controls are political poison. Anthem just announced an (up to) 39% premium rate increase.  Do you think they and Regence and the others will suddenly stop increasing rates like that when people are FORCED to buy insurance? Yeah, I know there will be more youth in the pool then...just means the rate increases will rake in more dough.

    I suspect mandates with no cost control will destroy the Democratic Party more than anything.  And of course, the Republicans will scream and blame Democrats all the while doing nothing to roll the horrors back.


    How about eliminating the excise tax? (none / 0) (#20)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 09:56:47 AM EST
    The excise tax on "Cadillac" (none / 0) (#30)
    by KeysDan on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:28:36 AM EST
    plans is, in my view, wrong from just about every perspective. Beyond its spurious linchpin of reducing health costs,  the excise tax equates to a means test.  Health insurance plans would be taxed  for the "richness" of its benefits--a plan that may have been previously negotiated  in lieu of salary. The tax rate is to be flat and the heath benefits are to be leveled.   Any means test for health care moves it from a right for citizens to a special privilege bringing along with it  all the political vulnerability of dependence upon Congress for the next dole of government cheese.

    not just "may have been". (none / 0) (#31)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:32:03 AM EST
    WAS.  and in lieu of many other benefits over the years that the unions have had to give up to corporate power.  the one thing they have been able to reliably provide to their membership is good health care.  and now they are going to TAX that.
    it is outrageous bordering on criminal.  and I totally back the unions for saying get rid of it or you are on your own.

    Unions in the US did betray... (none / 0) (#33)
    by Salo on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:41:53 AM EST
    ...the wider interests of the working class, so it's a bit of a dilemma. They do protect ordinary workers to a degree in isolated pockets, but in effect forgot their social charter while doing so.

    It's a crying shame.

    Given that, the Excise Tax does nothing to fix this blind alley unions went down many many moons ago.


    no argument (none / 0) (#35)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:45:08 AM EST
    the unions made a lot of their own problems but mostly that is pretty ancient history.
    more recently they have not had enough power to be corrupt.

    "House Dems will not cross the unions" (none / 0) (#38)
    by diogenes on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 11:47:21 AM EST
    That will be the Republican response in November to those who claim that there was no health reform bill due to Republican obstructionism.  Kowtowing to unions who represent a small minority of lucky, highly insured workers is political poison in a general election.

    let the class war begin, I say. (none / 0) (#39)
    by Salo on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 11:56:04 AM EST
    Aux Barricades!

    Oh really (none / 0) (#42)
    by cawaltz on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 12:44:21 PM EST
    I live in a conservative state. There isn't a single person who isn't aware that big bankers kept their bonuses while union members had their contracts renegotiated. There also isn't a person unaware that the unions asked for the complete elimination of the tax in its entirety(not just for their members).

    I say bring on the class war. I feel fairly confident with decreasing wages, increasing health costs and everything else while CEOs collect 17 million dollar "bonuses" that my side will win.