For once, Rahm Emanuel lost an arm-twisting session. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, browbeaten into agreeing to a meeting with President COS Emanuel, refused to climb down off his white horse. He flat-out told The Enforcer that the public option was the best and most viable of the current (sad) crop of healthcare reform measures. FDL's Jane Hamsher spoke directly with AFL-CIO spokesman Eddie Vale.
I asked if Trumka considered "triggers" to be a public option. He responded:
Trumka is sticking to what he said on triggers all along - which is that we haven't seen any plans that would be as effective as the public option, and he told that to Rahm Emanuel today.
They discussed the Baucus/Pelosi plan to pay for reform by putting an unfair burden on the benefits of many AFL-CIO members. (No doubt it's just a happy coincidence that the one big liberal institution which has pledged to withhold support from any Democrats who won't vote for a public plan is getting specifically hammered.) Trumka reiterated that "working families shouldn't be taxed on their health care benefits, which often have been gotten by foregoing wage increases and other benefits."
It's a good point and one that's often forgotten, even by raging progs like me. The management class used to offer benefit packages, particularly health care, in lieu of wage increases because such packages used to cost less than the pay increases being asked for. They thought it was a good deal for them, and it was until Reagan's deregulation cut the health insurance companies loose and premiums started to rise like Apollo rockets off a launching pad. Even then they could get cheaper coverage for a group (their employees) than any one of those employees could possibly get for him/herself and used the difference to wangle wage concessions and other benefit givebacks. (They used pensions and 401K payments in much the same way.)