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Waxman to question corporate execs...

... who are forced to take measures to counter the effects of ObamaCare:

AT&T Inc. said Friday it will take a $1 billion noncash charge to account for changes brought about by the national health care bill signed into law this week.

Previously, companies could get tax-free subsidies to help pay for prescription drug coverage for retired workers and, on top of that, could deduct those subsidies from their total tax bill.

Under the new law, the original subsidies will still be tax-free, but the companies no longer will be allowed to deduct the subsidy from their total taxes.

"As a result of this legislation, including the additional tax burden, AT&T will be evaluating prospective changes to the active and retiree health care benefits offered by the company," AT&T said in a brief filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company declined to comment beyond the filing.

AT&T reports first-quarter financial results April 21 and will likely face questions from analysts about the charge.

AT&T is the latest in a string of companies to announce charges resulting from the new law, but its charge is by far the biggest. 3M Co., Deere & Co., Caterpillar Inc. and AK Steel Holding Corp. have recently announced charges ranging from $31 million to $150 million.

The company announcements Friday prompted Democrats in Congress to push back.

Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat who co-chairs a subcommittee on oversight and investigations, said he'll convene a hearing next month to question company executives about their moves.

"The new law is designed to expand coverage and bring down costs, so your assertions are a matter of concern," said a letter from Waxman and co-chair Bart Stupak inviting executives such as AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson to testify.

"They also appear to conflict with independent analyses. ... The Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers from leading U.S. companies, asserted in November 2009 that health care reform could reduce predicted health insurance cost trends for businesses by more than $3,000 per employee over the next 10 years," the letter said.

The hearing is scheduled for April 21.

This is what we've come to in the land of the free.

A government imposes a policy, corporations take actions to lessen the impact of those policies on their bottom line, and the government calls them to hearings conducted by the very people responsible for the imposition.

This is America under Obama.

Do you have enough hope and change yet?

Crossposted at Brutally Honest.


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Comments (38)

Perhaps these executives, w... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Perhaps these executives, when called before Waxman's kangaroo court might ask The Wizard if he's every run a company that made a profit. That ever had to meet a payroll by actually producing and selling a product. Hell, they might even ask if he's ever even paid any taxes.
The answers would be interesting.

How dare these CEO's act in... (Below threshold)
jim m:

How dare these CEO's act in a way the reveals the ugly truth about Obamacare! There is but one solution. We need to take these companies over to stop them from negatively effecting the heath insurance of their employees.

Rep. Henry Waxman,... (Below threshold)
iwogisdead:
Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat who co-chairs a subcommittee on oversight and investigations, said he'll convene a hearing next month to question company executives about their moves.

What the hell? What business is it of his? Next he'll be hauling me up to Washington to ask why I buy Canadian Whiskey instead of Scotch.

These CEO's should bring th... (Below threshold)
HughS:

These CEO's should bring their independent auditors with them.

It would be fun watching Waxman pick a fight with the AICPA and the FASB guys.

They should tell Waxman to ... (Below threshold)
Michael:

They should tell Waxman to shove it up his ugly nostrils!

Who is surprised by this? ... (Below threshold)
CDR M:

Who is surprised by this? Waxman is used to spending more than he takes in so he can't understand why a company would be concerned about the bottom line. The Democrats want all businesses to provide maximum benefits and zero profit. Nothing to investors, leadership, management, etc. Funny thing is, the Democrats need companies to be profitable so that they can expand and hire (more taxpayers) and make a profit that enables dividends (which are taxable). Without these, their healthcare bill starves.

This is unlikely to pan out... (Below threshold)
epador:

This is unlikely to pan out well for any involved, but it is entertaining to imagine this all blowing up in the face of Waxman and Stupak. Karma can be a bitch. The CSPAN snippets on UTUBE could be very toxic to them and to the administration. If o figures this out, there could be some interesting phone calls from the White House to Waxman's office in the near future. If the hearings get cancelled or indefinitely delayed, you'll know why.

On the other hand, this certainly had an odor of McCarthyism that could send a paralyzing shiver down the spine of business if the hearings aren't broadcast or are heavily controlled.

Is Maxine Waters on the com... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Is Maxine Waters on the committee? Perhaps she'll weigh in on taking over the businesses. Her previous statement about 'socializing' the oil companies was priceless. She blurted out the "S" word, caught herself, realized there was no way to backtrack so 'put it out in the open'. Wonder what she might say if the government decided to take over her husbands Mercedes dealerships.

Can we convene a committee ... (Below threshold)
914:

Can we convene a committee on why Waxman looks like porky pig?

How about a committee to fi... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

How about a committee to find out if Waxman even has a brain?

Good idea! And while there ... (Below threshold)
914:

Good idea! And while there at it they may as well go the whole nine yards and do brainscans on all of the house, senate and that big eared dunce in the white house as well.

I always thought he looks l... (Below threshold)

I always thought he looks like the orcs in Lord of the Rings.

Perhaps these executives... (Below threshold)
JJ:

Perhaps these executives, when called before Waxman's kangaroo court might ask The Wizard if he's every run a company that made a profit. That ever had to meet a payroll by actually producing and selling a product. Hell, they might even ask if he's ever even paid any taxes.
The answers would be interesting.

If that happens, Waxman spittle will be flying all over the room.

Are you now, or have you ev... (Below threshold)
Dark Eden:

Are you now, or have you ever been a Capitalist?

Is it just me or does anyon... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Is it just me or does anyone else think that Waxman looks like one of the pigs from Animal Farm?

Its straight out of Atlas S... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

Its straight out of Atlas Shrugged...

He sure looks like a pig. W... (Below threshold)
914:

He sure looks like a pig. What farm he lives on I dont know.

I think there should be an ... (Below threshold)
TexBob:

I think there should be an investigation as to how Rat Face Waxman get reelected every time. I mean WTF?

RACISTS! How dare you take ... (Below threshold)
Murgatroyd:

RACISTS! How dare you take potshots at one of our most prominent Porcine-Americans!

Waxman looks like elmer fud... (Below threshold)
Wildman:

Waxman looks like elmer fudd. A man that ugly should not be asking anyone anything.

Send only women and minorit... (Below threshold)

Send only women and minorities to the hearing in place of any white males. Preferably handicapped in any way would add another great touch.

You think waxman's nuts? </... (Below threshold)
Marc:

You think waxman's nuts?

He's got nothing on this asswipe.

The Pennsylvania House Appropriations Chairman is threatening to defund the state attorney generals office because he wants to join the health care lawsuits.

Remind me again isn't Philly, Penn the home of the Liberty Bell?

Wasn't the First Continental Congress and Second Continental Congress held in Philadelphia?

Wasn't the Declaration of Independence signed in Philly?

What the friggin' hell is wrong with these people?!!!!

"I think there should be an... (Below threshold)
jim m:

"I think there should be an investigation as to how Rat Face Waxman get reelected every time. I mean WTF?"

That's easy. By electing him they keep him 2000+ miles away from where they live.

Marc,Yeah, but Phi... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Marc,

Yeah, but Philly is also run by the unions. It is also the place where they wanted to shut down one of their most famous Cheese Steak restaurants because they posted a sign saying that they wanted orders in English.

So while Philly may have been the birthplace of freedom, it has been taken over by unions and libs who all hate freedom.

You won't find any argument... (Below threshold)
Marc:

You won't find any argument coming from me jim m.

Harrisburg is where the Com... (Below threshold)
epador:

Harrisburg is where the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has its State Government.

Philly is where the famous ... (Below threshold)
epador:

Philly is where the famous Democrat (who endorsed Richard Nixon for President) took over a very successful privately owned utility, PGW, and through socialization and patronage reduced it to a rubble.

oops, off by one key, I mea... (Below threshold)
epador:

oops, off by one key, I meant PGE.

Powerline has a copy of the... (Below threshold)
alanstorm:

Powerline has a copy of the letter - go read it if you need a dose of industrial-strength stupid. A sample: Waxman wants the bill to have "no unintended consequences". It is left as an exercise to the student to demonstrate the jaw-dropping ignorance contained in that statement.

They're sending in the big ... (Below threshold)
jd:

They're sending in the big guns - Henry "Nostrils" Waxman, space alien extraordinaire.

"Waxman wants the bill to h... (Below threshold)
jim m:

"Waxman wants the bill to have "no unintended consequences". "

This is the problem with dems. They believe that they can declare outcomes and by declaring them they become true. The problem with that is that even with their co-conspirators in the media, the public isn't buying their propaganda.

Outside of the "Reality Based" community we actually live in reality. We deal with the real world consequences of their crap legislation and regulations. Dems like their "Reality Based" life. It's a lot like TV, where it's based on reality, but everything always comes out according to the narrative.

This is too much:'... (Below threshold)
epador:

This is too much:

'If you have any questions contact Meredith Fuchs..."

Hehe, Directive 10-289 is m... (Below threshold)
Rich K:

Hehe, Directive 10-289 is moving along nicely I see.

THREE BILLION IN PROFIT? </... (Below threshold)
Larry Dickman:

THREE BILLION IN PROFIT?

Claiming a 100% tax deduction when you only contributed 72% of your own money is some shady ass accounting, but legal thanks to the Dubya loophole.

Time to correct that. Getting a tax break on money they received from the government is so repugnant that only politicians who have crawled so far up the ass of corporate America can't see that this is some slimy corporate welfare.

ATT and the like have been overpaying their stockholders and executives on the teat of the employees and, in this case, on the teat of the taxpayer.

Why do you continue to be for corporate welfare, but if someone tosses a bone to the working man, then he must be a socialist?


ATT has continued to cut benefits and pay since 2003 (when this subsidy started), even though they were receiving the subsidy. And they have continued to increase their dividend pay to stockholders and Executives, regardless.

I know SCOTUS says that corporations are people too, but why don't you once come down on the side of the working man?


Larry, I realize you're a l... (Below threshold)
alanstorm:

Larry, I realize you're a liberal, so I'll try to use small words:

1) AT&T and others made a deal with the feds to provide a benefit for their retirees. The feds just changed the rules, unilaterally (sorry, was that too many syllables? Dang it, there I go again!). I'm sure it would be fine with you if, say, your employer (assuming you have one) reduces your pay without notice, or your credit card issuer doubles your rates suddenly, but those of us able to think are against one entity changing the rules in mid-stream. It makes one wonder if maybe that entity is untrustworthy.

2) "Why do you continue to be for corporate welfare, but if someone tosses a bone to the working man, then he must be a socialist?" That's because a socialist will do those kinds of things. An anti-socialist would toss the working man a TOOL, so that he need not be dependent on the tossing of bones. Besides, as has been stated many times, since liberals seem resistant to understanding it, it's not the tossing of the bone that's annoying, it's the fact (fact, mid you, not opinion) that government had to steal that bone from someone else in order to toss it.

3) "ATT has continued to cut benefits and pay since 2003 (when this subsidy started), even though they were receiving the subsidy. And they have continued to increase their dividend pay to stockholders and Executives, regardless." Proof, please. If they were violating the terms of a deal, they should be called on it. So what entity is responsible for the oversight?

4) However it happened, AT&T's tax burden, and thus their cost of doing business, just went up. You expect them to just sit there? You'd tell a rape victim to just lie back and let it happen, wouldn't you?

Sorry alanstorm, your major... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Sorry alanstorm, your major mistake is that you're asking Dickman to THINK. All little Dicky can do is regurgitate DNC talking points.

Well, the hope can be that ... (Below threshold)
Patrick:

Well, the hope can be that the corporate executives will show overwhelming evidence that the provision in the Bill (now Law) was misguided. And maybe, just maybe, in the face of that evidence, the provision will go away.

From the original article: "They also appear to conflict with independent analyses. ... The Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers from leading U.S. companies, asserted in November 2009 that health care reform could reduce predicted health insurance cost trends for businesses by more than $3,000 per employee over the next 10 years,"

So, the executive have to show where this was flawed (and why it doesn't apply to them).

Oh, and one more thing. Here are a few of the members of the Roundtable who said that this wouldn't happen...

"AT&T Inc.
Randall L. Stephenson"
"Caterpillar Inc.
James W. Owens (Jim)"
"AK Steel Corporation
James L. Wainscott (Jim)"
"Deere & Company
Samuel R. Allen (Sam)"
"MetLife, Inc.
C. Robert Henrikson (Rob)"

So, the same companies who said "Oh this won't affect our profits" are now cutting people's health care benefits. I guess I would ask them "Did you outright lie to us, or was it your intention to create a provision that allowed you to dump expenditures off?" Because it looks to ME like those companies figured out a way to eliminate the benefits legally.

So, before you pass judgment on Congress (although yes, SOMEONE in Congress should have noticed the possibility of this (in other words READ THE DAM BILL)), you may want to look at whether or not the "independent research" was really independent or not. Because to me, it looks like it was more slanted in the companies favor now.

Have a great day:)
Patrick.

Some of us pointed out mont... (Below threshold)
wtfo:

Some of us pointed out months ago that the large businesses supporting Obamacare were engaging in rent-seeking - Walmart being the largest example. The idea is not to change their own practices, but to impose those same costly practices on competitors. Obviously this did not work as intended.

The architects of this legislation knew exactly what was going to happen in regards to employer-provided medical benefits. The subject came up repeatedly - and, again, months ago - during discussions of taxing medical benefits. That provision and others are simply a means to coerce employers to cut medical benefits, thus driving demand for a public plan.

There is no requirement that these companies offer these benefits - there is no need for them to find ways to "legally" eliminate them. They can simply toss out some crap plan that costs them hardly anything and call it a day, should they choose.

As a few have already noted, some companies had a deal with the government in regards to benefits, and to pensions in particular - the .gov would give them a tax break and partially subsidize said pensions and benefits, and the companies would take up their portion and continue to offer them. This is a direct result of decades of companies offering pension plans which were never realistic nor solvent in the first place. There is no obligation on the part of these companies to offer any damn thing, and yet they spent money to do so. They could have easily told the pensioners to piss up a rope. Now that these tax breaks are revoked, the cost of continuing these benefits have increased. Unlike the government, these companies need to actually stay solvent.

Meanwhile, on the latest topic of outrage - SEC and government reporting and accounting requirements REQUIRE these companies to disclose financial changes such as those that will occur as a result of this legislation.




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