Will Deal With Labor Enable Health Care to Progress?
President Obama is rallying House Democrats to support a deal with organized labor on the excise tax. President Obama has convinced labor to support the deal after days of meetings and union threats to oppose health care reform.
The deal is that instead of family health insurance plans worth more than $23,000 be taxed 40%, the threshold will rise to $24,000.
But will it be enough to convince 218 House Democrats to support the new bill?
The excise tax was a crucial issue simply because of the deadly combination of unions and elections. If Democrats upset the unions, their 2010 political destiny would suffer. For Democrats, the unions are top organizers, campaign contributors and election day participants. More so than any other single group.
But, Democrats have other constituencies as well, including liberals.
Some House Democrats are fighting more than the excise tax. They want to maintain subsidies for low- and mid-income people, an expansion of Medicaid for the poor, an end to the health insurance anti-trust exemption, mandates that employers provide insurance, and the public option. All of these are in the House version of the bill, not the Senate.
Attention has been placed on the excise tax because of the power of the unions. But no word if House Democrats will receive anything from their laundry list of liberal demands listed above. The next couple of days will reveal if liberal Democrats will accept the excise tax as the great compromise and decide to support for the bill, or if they will push for more.