Policy: Labor

Liberal labor union makes Republican arguments against Obamacare

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Joel Gehrke,Labor unions,Barack Obama,Obamacare,Labor,Bobby Jindal,David Vitter

A new labor union research report offers a scathing indictment of how Obamacare affects middle-class workers. The report features a series of arguments that conservatives have long made about the law, right down to mentioning the language of "unintended consequences."

Jon Ralston has the report. "Ironically, the administration's own signature healthcare victory poses one of the most immediate challenges to redressing inequality," says Unite Here, which is comprised of service workers. "Yes, the Affordable Care Act will help many more Americans gain some health insurance coverage, a significant step forward for equality. At the same time, without smart fixes, the ACA threatens the middle class with higher premiums, loss of hours, and a shift to part-time work and less comprehensive coverage."

It's a criticism that could have been written by any Republican -- in fact, Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La., wrote the same thing in a Politico op-ed last month.

"The president talks a lot about tackling inequality," Jindal wrote. "But his health care law is a recipe for increasing inequality, not decreasing it. Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion doesn’t just discourage work; it also prioritizes coverage for able-bodied adults over the needs of persons with disabilities."

The union and Obama are also at odds on the matter of whether Obamacare will cause businesses to cut their employees' weekly hours below 30 to avoid the law's mandates.

"I would say broadly that if you look at the economic data, the suggestion that the ACA is reducing full-time employment is belied by the facts," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters last year.

The union disagrees. "Close to 400 employers announced plans to cut workers' hours back to less than 30 to stay below the 50-worker full-time threshold, more than a year in advance of the employer mandate," the report says. The law creates that "perverse incentive" because a Health and Human Services regulation defines "full-time" status as 30 hours of work weekly.

The report even complains about the exemption for congressional staffers that Sen. David Vitter, R-La., has tried to eliminate.

"We cannot sit idly by as the politicians carve up our health plans while they carve out exceptions for themselves and every special interest feeding at the trough in Washington," the cover letter to the report says.

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