With Corporations Already Claiming Pain From Overhaul, Business Lobby Poised To Fight Back
A week after the health overhaul cleared Congress, a business lobby that opposed the plan is now regrouping to shape its implementation and exact political retribution on supporters, The Wall Street Journal reports. "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is planning a broad effort to blunt the health overhaul by trying to shape its regulatory language and spending heavily to unseat vulnerable Democrats who voted for it." The group will be prepared to stall regulators with legal challenges if they "try for end-runs around the lawful rule-making process," and will steer $50 million on political campaigns against supporters of the bill (Adamy, 3/31).
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Of major concern to large firms are the "reform rules that reduce a tax break worth billions to corporations providing prescription drug coverage for former employees." That change caused AT&T to take "a $1 billion charge against first quarter earnings. Deere & Co. said it would take a $150 million charge. Allegheny Technologies Inc., a Downtown-based specialty metals company, said it expects to take an estimated $5 million accounting charge. Alcoa Inc. is expected to take a charge of about $10 million annually" (Napsha, 3/31).
Bloomberg BusinessWeek: Initially Democrats suggested that the firms were overstating the charges in order to tar the overhaul effort, but a senior adviser to President Obama said yesterday that the firms were following the rules. The adviser, Valerie Jarrett, said, "We have a good working relationship with them and they didn't want us to be caught by surprise. Some of the ones who have the highest dollar amount I have spoken to directly, and I appreciated them giving me the heads up" (Adamy, 3/31).
Reuters adds, "Not all big companies are warning of trouble. General Electric Co , for example, says it does not expect a 'significant material impact' on its first-quarter results." Reuters offers a tally of the charges so far. In addition to the companies mentioned above, the tally includes earth-moving equipment-maker Catepillar, which will take a $100 million charge, as will life insurer Prudential; 3M, the maker of Post-It notes will take a $90 million charge; and Valero Energy will take a charge of up to $20 million (Chang and Orr, 3/31).