You'd be hard-pressed to find a bigger cheerleader in media for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, than Ed Schultz.
Hardly a day has passed in three years since the law was enacted that Schultz has not touted its magnificence on his radio show and cable program on MSNBC. Those familiar with Schultz's huff-and-puff shtick know that he's got another soft spot -- for labor unions. (Audio after the jump)
So it didn't come as a total shock to hear Schultz on his radio show yesterday make a jaw-dropper of a suggestion -- that unions are exempted from Obamacare mandates and should instead stick with existing contracts.
Here's Schultz proposing this in response to criticism of Obamacare from GOP senator John Barrasso of Wyoming (audio) --
SCHULTZ: Now this is the union thing. Listen to this --
BARRASSO: Also apologize to the union members who believed the president when he said if you like what you have you can keep it and your insurance rates will come down.
SCHULTZ (parroting Barrasso): Believed the president that you can keep it. You can keep it. And eventually their rates will come down. See, this is dealing with an agree-, the unions are a little, uh, toasty under the collar about Obamacare, not willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater. But they believe that what they negotiated for should not be affected at all, and I go along with that! That's the private sector at work. That's freedom. And I think that there's an easy solution to this as I see it. All the administration has to do is say, OK, if you're in organized labor in this country, you've got your own exchange. Go do your deal. I mean, that's the best way to do it. It's the absolute best way to do it. And right now the benefit, the negotiated benefit in many contracts for union workers in this country is so good, it puts them into an area where they may end up paying a little bit of tax on it. Well, that's not good! But that's fixable. That is very fixable.
Typical of Schultz, he beats around the bush but what he is saying is obvious -- Obamacare should not affect any worker covered by a collective bargaining agreement. Put another way -- unions should be exempt. Of course, describing it this way would require far more candor than Schultz is capable of.
And don't you find it immensely amusing that this chest-thumper of a left-winger briefly contorts himself into an Ayn Rand acolyte -- "That's the private sector. That's freedom" -- in his defense of the indefensible?
Then again, the Obama administration has already piled up so many waivers from Obamacare, what's the harm in adding unions to the mix? Especially when one considers how they were instrumental in getting Obama to the White House, as Schultz likes to remind us. That being the case, it would be decidedly unfair for their members to comply with Obama's otherwise glorious signature achievement.
You may recall a post I wrote back in March 2012 detailing how Schultz was paid nearly $200,000 by unions in fiscal 2011 for various "representational activities," mainly speaking gigs at union conventions. Labor Department records show that unions paid Schultz nearly $150,000 from 2004 to 2010, starting the same year Schultz launched his radio show.
The union swag continued flowing to Schultz in fiscal 2012 -- $222,000 worth -- before dropping to $75,000 in the current year. Which leads to the inevitable question -- is Schultz's proposal that Obamacare not apply to unions little more than a negotiating pitch from him to them?