ObamaCare's outrageous crony bailouts

Via Byron York at the Washington Examiner, and El Rushbo, who mentioned this on his program yesterday:

Investigators for the House Energy and Commerce Committee have
discovered that a little-known provision in the national health care law
has allowed the federal government to pay nearly $2 billion to unions,
state public employee systems, and big corporations to subsidize health
coverage costs for early retirees.  At the current rate of payment, the
$5 billion appropriated for the program could be exhausted well before
it is set to expire.

… The program began making payouts on June 1, 2010.  Between that date
and the end of 2010, it paid out about $535 million dollars.  But
according to the new report, the rate of spending has since increased
dramatically, to about $1.3 billion just for the first two and a half
months of this year. At that rate, it could burn through the entire $5
billion appropriation as early as 2012.

Where is the money going?  According to the new report, the biggest
single recipient of an early-retiree bailout is the United Auto Workers,
which has so far received $206,798,086.  Other big recipients include
AT&T, which received $140,022,949, and Verizon, which received
$91,702,538.  General Electric, in the news recently for not paying any
U.S. taxes last year, received $36,607,818.  General Motors, recipient
of a massive government bailout, received $19,002,669.

The program also paid large sums of money to state governments.  The
Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio received $70,557,764; the
Teacher Retirement System of Texas received $68,074,118; the California
Public Employees Retirement System, or CalPERS, received $57,834,267;
the Georgia Department of Community Health received $57,936,127; and the
state of New York received $47,869,044.  Other states received lesser
but still substantial sums.

But payments to individual states were dwarfed by the payout to the
auto workers union, which received more than the states of New York,
California, and Texas combined.  Other unions also received government
funds, including the United Food and Commercial Workers, the United Mine
Workers, and the Teamsters.

Thanks to our current recession and the strain that it has caused on state budgets, state governments have been offering generous early retirement packages  – and older workers are leaving en masse.  Now we have some idea of how the states are able to afford the costs associated with those early retirements.  This probably also explains why spending on this program has accelerated appreciably in the last few months.  (As if no one expected a rush on “free money.”)

And of course this also comes on top of the hundreds of ObamaCare waivers already given to Big Business and Big Labor.

Naturally all of this begs the obvious question: If ObamaCare is such a great program, if it is going to reduce the overall cost of health care for employers (thereby freeing up more money that can be used to hire more workers), then why do businesses and unions need billions in bailout money and waivers from coverage requirements, in order to be able to afford it?

Republicans have noted that the early retirement bailout program is a perfect example of why the ObamaCare bill was pushed through Congress without proper oversight or debate.  This whole thing reeks with the undeniable stench of Big Government/Big Business/Big Labor cronyism, where elected officials who receive millions in campaign contributions and goodies from corporate lobbyists, in turn line the pockets of their patrons with subsidies, tax breaks, and exemptions from costly regulations. 

And as usual, small to medium-sized businesses and average taxpayers, who can’t afford to buy favors from Washington DC, get stuck with the bill.

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