August 19th, 2009
12:22 PM ET
5 years ago

Incoming AFL-CIO pres again draws the line on a public option

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has issued a statement about health care reform and the public health insurance option.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has issued a statement about health care reform and the public health insurance option.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Just a few days after warning Democratic lawmakers that failure to support a public option might cost them union support, AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer and incoming President Richard Trumka released a statement repeating the threat and promising to keep the heat on Congress and the Obama administration to support a government-run insurance option in the final version of the health care bill.

"We will be looking at every one of their votes and whether they are holding to their campaign promises," said Trumka Wednesday. "If they are against the public option and other key issues to working families such as the Employee Free Choice Act it is going to be tough for them to get support from working people."

Undecided Democratic members of Congress have faced ads and grassroots pressure from both the left and right this summer. Much of the liberal pressure has come from the Health Care for America Now coalition, which includes the AFL-CIO, and Organizing for America, President Obama's campaign arm at the Democratic National Committee.

Earlier this week, former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean said Democratic members of Congress who opposed a public option could expect primary challenges next year.

(Full statement after the jump)

STATEMENT BY AFL-CIO SECRETARY TREASURER RICHARD TRUMKA ON PUBLIC HEALTH INSURANCE OPTION IN HEALTH CARE REFORM

A quality public health insurance option is a crucial part of health care reform to keep private insurance companies honest, hold down costs and ensure that everybody has a health care choice available. Key to holding down costs for families, for businesses, and for the federal budget is forcing insurance companies to compete. And the only way to force real competition on the insurance companies is a strong public plan option.

Unfortunately, the usual suspects opposed to reform are trying to hijack the reform process and attacking the public health insurance plan option because they are afraid of competition and they want to keep gouging working families. But unless we take decisive steps to stop the crippling rise of health costs, we will have squandered this moment of opportunity.

We will continue to relay that message forcefully to Congress and the White House.

We will be looking at every one of their votes and whether they are holding to their campaign promises. If they are against the public option and other key issues to working families such as the Employee Free Choice Act it is going to be tough for them to get support from working people.


Filed under: AFL-CIO • Health care
soundoff (131 Responses)
  1. Corwin7

    I have to laugh at all the idiots out there that think the UNIONS are the ones causing problems with our country. I wonder what it would be like to be so stupid as not to be able to realize that the unions have just survived a holocaust waged on them by the GOP for the last 8 years. You morons really believe that the UNIONS are the reason that everything you own and buy is made by China now? If so you probably still think Saddam was behind 9/11 and that the justice department firings were for "poor performance". Face it! The GOP just attempted to hijack the entire country and run it entirely based on how thier corporate masters told them too. THANK GOD THEY FAILED!!!! It would be funny if it wasn't so devastating to our country to watch you "simple" people being manipulated by rumor and your knee jerk reactions.

    August 19, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  2. Kevin in Ohio

    One more example of Unions having too much power and being a root cause of most of this country's problems. If democrats were actually intelligent, they might stop cow-towing to these mafia goons.

    August 19, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  3. Belle Perimetre

    Why bother with all this health are change now? Don't you realize that when the repubicans are back in power end of next year that they will have to rip it out with much misery..the current national scene all over again, in reverse.

    August 19, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  4. Belle Perimetre

    Why bother with all this health care change now? Don't you realize that when the republicans are back in power end of next year that they will have to rip it out with much misery..the current national scene all over again, in reverse.

    August 19, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  5. michaela

    A. Unions are NOT out dated. If employers acted responsibly, there would be no need for them.
    B. It's about time our party shows some back bone and stand up for what we believe in and what we voted for......no caving! Ram it down their throats! No more trying to play nice.....bi-partisanship..not working!
    C. No support on what we voted for? Throw the Blue Dogs out and elect representatives that will represent We the People.
    D. Republicans???? Irrelevant! No more playing nice. Ram it down their throats!
    E. Tea Parties? Yeah, let's revert back to 1773.........that's always good!
    Your 15 minutes of fame are up!

    August 19, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  6. Bob in Pa

    Unions need to be thrown out of the political arena. Their function is between the Employee they represent and the company that employees them. They have run too many companies out of the US and now they are looking to us to bail them out as well by taking the weight of some health benefits off their wallet.

    August 19, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  7. Jilli

    Good move. A public option is the only way to provide coverage and contain costs.

    Republicans have obviously forgotten who they were sent to DC to represent.

    August 19, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. Jenn, Philadelphia

    So, all the kool-aid drinkers get their shorts in a knot claiming Republicans get their marching orders from the insurance industry and now we know where the Democrats get their's.

    August 19, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  9. a progressive liberal and proud of it

    Those of you who a ranting about how bad Unions are . . . go back and learn some history!! If not for Unions, the working people of this country would still be working in sweat shops without ANY benefits at all for pennies on the dollar! Ignorance of history is no excuse for irrational statements. Please educate yourselves . . . for the good of your country, PLEASE educate yourselves.

    August 19, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  10. Connie, Indiana

    For anyone who thinks unions are outdated and there is no place for them. The next time you take a vacation, take sick leave, etc, look at your paycheck, and remember that the unions helped to bring all these things to you, not by the goodness of your employers..

    August 19, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  11. Dave

    This is great I was watching a show the other morning and a young Congressman from New York made a great point he said "what does the insurance companies do for health care". The Host never answer the question he wen all around it but never answer it. the only thing they do is push paper and deny coverage and add 30% to the cost of health care.

    August 19, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  12. Suju, NE

    President Obama inherited a $2.2 trillion deficit from Bush—$700 billion (Wall Street bailout), $900 billion (Prescription Drug Bill) and $600 billion (Iraq War). President Clinton left office with a $759 billion surplus.
    What happened? According to the CBO, the public option will cost $100 billion per year. Per year, ending Medicare subsidies to insurance companies will save $30 billion, cutting subsidies to pharmaceutical companies will save $20 billion, repelling the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent will save $30 billion, and scaling back the Iraq War will save $20 billion. According to ten year CBO projections, the Bush/Cheney War will cost $3.8 trillion.
    What would you rather do – Spend money on reforming health care which will benefit you or give to large corporations so they can maintain their 200% PROFIT?

    August 19, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  13. Connie, Indiana

    Remember it was saint "Reagan" who tried to break unions, that's the republican mantra, keep them poor and ignorant, works for them...

    August 19, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  14. doug

    If the union's are for it, that means it must not be a good thing for the American people! Unions have been reduced to nothing more than common thieves. They are a large part of the reason we are in this mess when the dems took over in '06.

    August 19, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  15. I give up

    cement shoes for anyone who does not support the public option. – typical union mentality.

    August 19, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  16. joe m.

    some would call this 'blackmail'.

    August 19, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  17. Stuffit

    This is quite simply solved. An a la carte IRS Form 1040.

    If you want health care by the govt, check a box and add 10%
    If you want social security, check a box, add 10%
    If you want food stamps, check a box, add 5%
    Cash for clunkers, check a box add $4500.00

    Those filling these out are sent an ID that has their list of "rights" on it that must be presented at the point of service.

    For the rest, a 12% flat tax. If the gov't spends more than that, they can take sick days, cut services, and have layoffs like the rest of us.

    That way, everyone gets what they pay for. For the indigent or those physically unable to work, 2% of the 12% flat rate can be used to address their needs.

    August 19, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  18. JB - NYC

    Oh .. if the union is behind the government option.. then it must be a good deal (/sarcasm)

    August 19, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  19. Matthew in Oregon

    At least some one has a spine (maybe).

    August 19, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  20. Retired IAM

    Richard Trumka is absolutely correct!!! Thank you to him for standing tall and firm.

    August 19, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  21. Pepou

    Good. These stupid conservative democrats who don't have the guts to support their party and their President will pay at the poll. Public option is supported by more than 76% of Americans.

    August 19, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  22. A.B.

    We, the voters, need to keep the heat on the President and the Democrats and constantly remind them of the fact that we put them in office with a mandate to reform the U.S. healthcare system and if they fail to execute that mandate, they will lose our support in 2012 and thereafter. The public option is the single most important component of any sensible healthcare legislation proposal and is therefore necessary and not negotiable. Without it, there is no true healthcare reform and our leaders will pay a political price.

    August 19, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  23. Hammer

    Obama owes the Unions, but the taxpayers owe them nothing, tell Trumka to take a flying leap.

    August 19, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  24. Doug, New Jersey

    Democrats lose union support? You mean their thugs wont be out at the polling places in 2010 threatening the old people? What's libby to do then?

    August 19, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  25. alvino

    In other news, the Health Care Industry is in bed with congressional republicans and Fox entertainment.

    August 19, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
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