Labor leaders are playing hard ball with the President over so called “cadillac” taxes in the health care bill (Senate, not House). Although press was not present, yesterday’s meeting can’t have gone very well. The White House officially deemed the meeting “productive”, which in Washington-speak means it didn’t go well. Labor leaders threatened crushing defeat for Democrats in November. So sad I missed the fireworks.
From the AP:
“A Monday evening meeting at the White House between Obama and about a dozen heads of the country’s biggest labor unions capped a day when two union leaders fired broadsides at Obama and Senate Democrats over their plans to pay for overhauling the nation’s health care system with a tax union leaders fear could hurt their workers. […] Although Obama terms them “Cadillac” plans, union leaders say numerous working-class Americans who’ve negotiated good benefits in exchange for lesser pay would be hurt.
The president of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, warned that Democrats risk catastrophic election defeats similar to 1994 if they fail to come up with a health bill labor likes. A bad bill could have that kind of effect – a place where people sit at home” – as happened in 1994, when Democrats lost 54 House seats and eight in the Senate, costing them control of Congress, Trumka told reporters.
Trumpka, among all his fellow labor leaders, is obviously towing a very hard line. And he’s stating that EFCA will be passed in the first quarter of 2010, or else. According to the Huffington Post:
“I think you will see the Employee Free Choice Act pass in the first quarter of 2010,” said Trumka. […]” The president fully supports the Employee Free Choice Act, the Vice President fully supports the Employee Free Choice Act, a vast majority of the members of the House support the Employee Free Choice Act, a vast majority of the people of the Senate support the Employee Free Choice Act. And I think we are going to have the Employee Free Choice Act despite the determined efforts of the Republican Party…”
Labor leaders, who put so much money heart and soul into backing health reform, will continue to play hard to get, but heaven forbid they actually remove their support of the legislation. But if the White House thinks they are just peeved enough, then perhaps Trumka will get his field of dreams after all– EFCA before April.