Dems Navigate Reform Opposition From Unions, Liberals
"Unionized workers have fought to preserve their relatively expensive health plans through contract talks, sometimes at the expense of wage increases," CQ Politics reports. "Now, with some unions airing televised ads targeting senators who support the idea of counting some health benefits as taxable income, pressure is increasing on Capitol Hill to look elsewhere to offset the cost of a health care overhaul."
President Obama campaigned against taxing health benefits during last year's election cycle when his opponent, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., suggested it, a stand that prompted unions to promote his candidacy. "Those workers would feel stung if the plan Obama ends up signing includes such a tax. 'That's a message that resonated with our members, no matter what their ideology was,'" one union executive said. CQ Politics adds: "The issue is particularly tricky for unions representing health care workers, who want to make sure health care legislation expands employment opportunities in their field" (Rubin, 7/7).
As Democrats navigate opposition to changes that could cost taxpayers even from members of their own political sector such as the unions one centrist think-tank, Third Way, is urging the administration to sharpen its appeal by ditching "defensive arguments implying that health care reform will cost middle-class Americans, not help them," Politico reports. A memo circulated Monday said Democrats need to explain more emotionally what workers, who will pay for reform through taxes or spending cuts, will be getting in return. "Simply maintaining that Americans will be allowed to keep their own doctors or their current coverage if they like it is not a meaningful offer," the memo says (Brown, 7/7).
Meanwhile, liberal groups "have unleashed a series of hard-hitting attack ads against Democrats" who don't fully support Obama's health reform proposals, the Washington Times reports. Mary Landrieu, D-La., has not supported the creation of a government-run health insurance plan, for instance, a staple of liberal reform ambitions. Her tacit opposition prompted an ad in her home district, starring one of her own constituents, a breast-cancer survivor, who asks, "Will Landrieu sell out Louisiana?" against a backdrop of abandoned New Orleans homes. A group called Change Congress sponsored the ad (Bellatoni, 7/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.