Thursday, October 8, 2009

More in my continuing series featuring liberals who are uncomfortable with interest groups


Tim Fernholz observes that the Senate version of health reform has a big problem with Big Labor:

But there is a broader political problem: The single largest source of revenue to fund health care reform — $215 billion — is an excise tax on insurers for health-care plans that cost more than $8,000 for individuals or $21,000 for families, which is in turn linked to inflation...

One thing is for certain: Labor is serious about stopping the excise tax — so much so that new AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has made leaving it out a necessary condition for his coalition to support the bill.

Matt of course tut-tuts labor,

I understand why some unions see this stance as serving the interests of their members. But the reality of the matter is that Trumka is just wrong on the policy merits here.

Look, this really isn't that complicated. Unions are an interest group. Unions exist to serve the interests of their members.

Why this behavior is so befuddling to Yglesias and Ezra is really beyond me.

You don’t have to agree with the unions on this but you shouldn’t act surprised or put out when they act in the interests of their members. That’s what they’re supposed to do.

The labor movement, particularly the UAW, fought for decades for universal healthcare and it got them nowhere. You can forgive them for being a little gun shy about the excise tax proposal which, by design or by accident, targets the hard fought benefits of their members. Given the over-whelming mediocrity of the healthcare “reform” being debated right now I can’t say that I blame them. Put together a better plan and maybe the won’t try so hard to hold on to what they have.

It's not labor's fault that Washington Democrats are bad legislators and not very good at politics.

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