Byron York - Democrats threaten companies hit hard by health care bill
Michael Barone - Obama slights our friends, kowtows to our enemies
Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, has summoned some of the nation's top executives to Capitol Hill to defend their assessment that the new national health care reform law will cost their companies hundreds of millions of dollars in health insurance expenses. Waxman is also demanding that the executives give lawmakers internal company documents related to health care finances -- a move one committee Republicans describes as "an attempt to intimidate and silence opponents of the Democrats' flawed health care reform legislation."
On Thursday and Friday, the companies -- so far, they include AT&T, Verizon, Caterpillar, Deere, Valero Energy, AK Steel and 3M -- said a tax provision in the new health care law will make it far more expensive to provide prescription drug coverage to their retired employees.
Now, both retirees and current employees of those companies are wondering whether the new law could mean reduced or canceled benefits for them in the future.
The news is an embarrassment for Democrats. As President Obama and Congressional leaders tout the purported benefits of the new health care law, some of the nation's biggest companies are saying it will mean higher costs and fewer benefits -- not exactly what Democrats want to hear in the days after their historic victory.
So Waxman has ordered the executives to explain themselves at an April 21 hearing before the Energy and Commerce Committee's investigative subcommittee. That subcommittee just happens to be chaired by Rep. Bart Stupak
Waxman's demands for documents are far-reaching. "To assist the Committee with its preparation for the hearing," he wrote to Stephenson, "we request that you provide the following documents from January 1, 2009, through the present:
(1) any analyses related to the projected impact of health care reform on AT&T; and
(2) any documents, including e-mail messages, sent to or prepared or reviewed by senior company officials related to the projected impact of health care reform on AT&T. We also request an explanation of the accounting methods used by AT&T since 2003 to estimate the financial impact on your company of the 28 percent subsidy for retiree drug coverage and its deductibility or nondeductibility, including the accounting methods used in preparing the cost impact statement released by AT&T this week.
Barack Obama's decision to postpone his trip to Indonesia and Australia -- to a democracy with the world's largest Muslim population and to the only nation that has fought alongside us in all the wars of the last century -- is of a piece with his foreign policy generally: Attack America's friends and kowtow to our enemies.
Timothy P. Carney - Why pot growers favor pot prohibition
If California legalizes marijuana, they say, it will drive down the price of their crop and damage not just their livelihoods but the entire economy along the state's rugged northern coast