Tuesday, January 12, 2010
The Ghost of Gompers Stalks Obamacare. Or, Why Does A Democratic President Think Working People Have It Too Good?
AFL-CIO chief Rich Trumka put it well, yesterday, as reported by the AP:
"Politicians who think that working people have it too good — too much health care, too much Social Security and Medicare, too much power on the job — are inviting a repeat of 1994," Trumka said.
Trumka didn't say it, but the Obamans are trying to shrink healthcare after grossly expanding Wall Street bailouts--and now wants to keep it all secret. A strange turn of events, no? What strange idol are the current Democrats worshiping, following a weird dogma that has them bailing out billionaires, while raising taxes on working stiffs?
The issue, of course, is the "Cadillac Tax" on healthcare plans--which is to say, a tax increase. The AP's Erica Werner further quotes Harold A. Schaitberger, head of the firefighters:
"The president's support for the excise tax is a huge disappointment and cannot be ignored. If President Obama continues to support it and signs a bill that includes the excise tax on workers, we will hold him accountable."
Trumka and Schaitberger are both protesting the core presumption of Obamacare--that Americans consume too much healthcare, and that the place to start reducing is with the middle class--the working class.
Needless to say, this core presumption is not popular. The polls show that Americans want more healthcare, and polls also show that Americans are increasingly skeptical of Obamacare--latest headline from CBS: "Poll: Obama Health Care Marks Hit New Low."
And yet the Democrats trudge onward, pursuing an ideological vision that pleases ivory tower elites, even as it antagonizes blue collars and soccer moms. So how do the Democrats process this--this attack on their own base? Thought-leading Democrats have turned their likely coming whomping at the polls in 2010 into a kind of prospective badge of honor: to prove how brave they are. But bravery in pursuit of a policy that nobody wants is not bravery--it is folly.
Meanwhile, Trumka, in particular, seems to be channeling the spirit of one of his predecessors, the supremely pragmatic and practical Samuel L. Gompers, who became the first president of the American Federation of Labor, back in 1886. When he was asked what his union members wanted, Gompers answered: "More." And he continued with a rhetorical flourish that we could use right now:
“We do want more, and when it becomes more, we shall still want more. And we shall never cease to demand more until we have received the results of our labor. . . .What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures.”
Indeed. And it all begins with more, not less. And today, Democrats are offering less. And while less may be more in architecture--it is never more in politics.
Posted by James P. Pinkerton at 9:00 AM