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August 19, 2009
Big Labor's Big Threat
Organized labor is warning Democrats who don't support the public option on national health insurance that they will not have union support come re-election time.
Sam Stein of Huffpo:
One of the country's most prominent union officials is warning that big labor may pull its support from Democrats who don't fight for a government-run insurance plan.
In an interview with the Huffington Post on Saturday, Richard Trumka, the secretary-treasurer and likely next president of the AFL-CIO, said his federation is drawing a line in the sand when it comes to a public option in the health care bill. Lawmakers who don't support the provision, he said, shouldn't take anything for granted.
"We'll look at every one of their votes," Trumka said after his speech at the Netroots Nation convention. "If they're against the Employee Free Choice Act, if they're against health care for that reason, I think it'll be tough for them to get support from working people."
Trumka's remarks were echoed privately by several other labor officials at the convention in Pittsburgh. In particular, the emerging Senate Finance Committee plan - which seems unlikely to contain a public option and could end up taxing pricey health care packages - seems almost guaranteed to incite the unions.
"We'll oppose it," Trumka said, when asked about any bill that ends the tax exemption for employer coverage. "It's actually a stupid concept because if you tax those that have it to pay for those that don't, eventually those that have [benefits] won't. Then who do you ultimately tax?"
And if you followed the logic in that last statement, you win a cookie.
Labor makes frequent threats of this nature - support for card check will be a litmus test as well for the union bosses. However, they rarely follow through. They are realistic enough to realize that a bad Democrat is still better than any Republican - a lesson the GOP refuses to learn and will continue to drag the party down until they do.