Payday for Unions in HR 3200? Yes!


Investor’s Business Daily (Investor’s Business Daily)
-Added on Thursday, August 27, 2009, 09:16 AM

Payday For Unions 523 words Labor: If there’s any question as to why union toughs turned up at recent health care town halls and got violent, consider what they were gooning for: a $10 billion bailout for their mismanaged pensions — at our expense. Buried on page 65 of the 1,017 pages of HR 3200, the House’s health care reform bill, and in a Senate bill as well, stands a $10 billion entitlement to keep pensions for unions like United Auto Workers as shiny and gold-plated as the day Detroit executives signed off on them. Steelworkers, municipal employees, teachers and other union retirees will benefit from what the bills call “Reinsurance Programs for Retirees.” The $10 billion cash infusion is intended to refinance Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Associations (VEBA) insurance to continue coverage for unions’ early retirees in restructurings. It’s nothing but another bailout for union-bankrupted industries that can’t sustain their contracts. In most of the private sector, companies cut back. They pay for what they buy. They scrimp. Unions are different. When things get bad, they want taxpayers to pay. And they demonize corporate profits. When profits are a dirty word, one man’s wealth is another man’s loss, and creating value is no longer recognized as a means of earning money. It’s no surprise that bailouts are the result. But there’s a problem with all this largesse — the poor and middle class who don’t get these fat pensions end up paying for them anyway. Back in February, President Obama praised unions for their “sacrifices” in the auto bailouts. We’ve yet to see taxpayers praised or thanked for their “sacrifices” in bailing out unions. Unions gave $52 million to elect Democrats in the last election. The link between bailouts and campaign cash couldn’t be clearer. Frankly, their “investment” has paid off handsomely. Part of their “return” includes GM and Chrysler shares that rightfully belonged to bondholders. Major provisions in the $787 billion stimulus are little more than union gifts. These include huge public works and infrastructure projects that hire exclusively union labor, and protectionist measures that reward unions at the cost of economic growth, such as Buy American provisions. In other bills they’ve gotten treaty-busting moves to halt Mexican trucks on U.S. roads, triggering $2.6 billion in retaliatory tariffs the rest of us must pay. They’ve also kept 46 million Colombians shut out of a U.S. free-trade treaty, costing us $1 billion in tariffs. Meanwhile, they’ve also won top spots in the Obama administration for union officials. Now they want another $10 billion in money set aside to cover their unfunded health care liabilities. This bailout tells us that their demands are insatiable. Is it any wonder the president’s health care bills are tanking along with the president’s own popularity? And that polls now show the public sees unions as too powerful? Until unions learn to live like the rest of the private sector, they will continue to be seen for what they are: a privileged class. But there are consequences to that. As the outrages grow, they will engender voter ill will that could endanger the Obama administration. The White House would be wise to stop coddling organized labor, one of the least popular institutions in American life.