Monday, March 29, 2010

Free Health Care's Costs and The Class Act

(Bloomberg) -- AT&T Inc. will book $1 billion in first-quarter costs related to the health-care law signed this week by President Barack Obama, the most of any U.S. company so far.
A change in the tax treatment of Medicare subsidies triggered the non-cash expense, and the company will consider changes to the benefits it offers current and retired workers, Dallas-based AT&T said today in a regulatory filing.

From the Wall Street Journal: On top of AT&T's $1 billion, the writedown wave so far includes Deere Co., $150 million; Caterpillar, $100 million; AK Steel, $31 million; 3M, $90 million; and Valero Energy, up to $20 million. Verizon has also warned its employees about its new higher health-care costs, and there will be many more in the coming days and weeks.
As Joe Biden might put it, this is a big, er, deal for shareholders and the economy. The consulting firm Towers Watson estimates that the total hit this year will reach nearly $14 billion, unless corporations cut retiree drug benefits when their labor contracts let them.
[Meanwhile, Henry Waxman and House Democrats announced yesterday that they will haul these companies in for an April 21 hearing because their judgment "appears to conflict with independent analyses, which show that the new law will expand coverage and bring down costs."]
Christian Science Monitor: President Obama’s healthcare reform law is coming under attack by those who claim it violates the separation of church and state. At least two lawsuits have been filed challenging the new healthcare mandate on religious grounds. One was filed by a Michigan-based group, the Thomas More Law Center. The other was filed on behalf of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.
As the American Spectator reports:  "These are Republican CEOs who are trying to embarrass the President and Democrats in general," says a White House legislative affairs staffer. "Where do you hear about this stuff? The Wall Street Journal editorial page and conservative websites. No one else picked up on this but you guys. It's BS."  One Washington office head said that the White House calls were accusatory and "downright rude."
The companies are taking the charges because in 2013 they will lose a tax deduction on tax-free government subsidies they have had when they give retirees a Medicare Part D prescription-drug reimbursement. Many of these companies have more than 100,000 retirees each. AT&T may have more than three-quarters of a million retirees to cover. 
"Most of these people [in the Administration] have never had a real job in their lives. They don't understand a thing about business, and that includes the President," says a senior lobbyist for one of the companies that announced the charge. "My CEO sat with the President over lunch with two other CEOs, and each of them tried to explain to the President what this bill would do to our companies and the economy in general. First the President didn't understand what they were talking about. Then he basically told my boss he was lying. Frankly my boss was embarrassed for him; he clearly had not been briefed and didn't know what was in the bill."
"We had memos on these issues, but none of our people, we think, looked at them," says  a staffer. "When they saw the stories last week about the charges some of the companies were taking, they were genuinely surprised and assumed that the companies were just doing this to embarrass them.  They really believed this bill would immediately lower costs. They just didn't understand what they were voting on." 

Andrew Breitbart, [who does not believe the charge that protesters were screaming the "N" word to Rep. Lewis as he walked to the Capitol to cast his health care vote], has offered to donate $100,000 to charity via Rep. John Lewis, D-GA, if anyone can provide video evidence that racial epiteths were dropped on Congressional Black Caucus members. Breitbart said the allegations were made as a way for the left -- abetted by the mainstream media -- to "marginalize" Tea Party supporters. [Videos of his walk have been posted, with only "Kill The Bill" being yelled.  In my view, this is an effective way to have hate crimes fomented against those who are peacefully disagreeing with their government - and I'm sure Nancy Pelosi would be against that!]


1 comment:

  1. Terrific summary of many current events...great information. All conservative minded Americans must get involved and get out the Vote in November for our lives and the lives of our kids, grandkids. Thanks for keeping the flame alive !