In demanding deep cuts to workers’ health insurance plans, telecommunications giant Verizon has cited President Obama’s 2010 health care “reform” and its tax levies against so-called “Cadillac plans.”
The element of the health care law in question, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), imposes a staggering 40 percent tax on plans with an annual cost exceeding $10,200 for individuals or $27,500 for a family, beginning in 2018. Reportedly all of the workers who struck at Verizon this month would fall under the new tax levy. These workers currently pay no health care premiums. Verizon is demanding that they contribute $1,200 to $3,000 per year, part of the $20,000 per worker pay and benefits cuts the corporation is demanding.
Verizon’s demands reveal the reactionary character of Obama’s health care law. The plan was never about “extending health coverage to all Americans,” as Obama repeatedly asserted. Its intention was to drive down the health care costs for American corporations and the government, while ensuring the profits of the insurance, pharmaceutical, and HMO industries. The punitive taxation of “Cadillac” or “luxury” plans—euphemistic terms for decent health care plans that cover workers and their dependents—is an invitation for corporations to slash health care coverage.
It also illustrates the treacherous role of the trade union executives and their cheerleaders in “left” groupings like the International Socialist Organization (ISO). Obama’s 2010 health care law was enthusiastically backed by the AFL-CIO, including the two unions involved in the Verizon strike, the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). In little more than one year, that reform has been used as the hammer to dismantle the benefits and incomes of 45,000 CWA and IBEW workers.
And don't think, "Those poor Verizon workers." Because that's not good enough. Think, "Us poor workers." This is not going to be limited to Verizon. They were just the first ones to stand up against it.
I called it out repeatedly here before it went through. I've called it out since. It was never, ever about helping the people. It was always gift for big business.
And the ones who can't see that all this time later are people I have no use for.
(I've noted my exceptions.)
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Thursday: