Why BaucusCare Should Worry Democrats

Labor Day presented a good opportunity for President Obama to talk to one of the Democrats' more important -- and most ticked off -- constituents: Labor. It was, by all accounts, a fiery speech to the AFL-CIO union about the necessity of health care reform and the nasty special interests that were blocking its essential passage. What do the unions want from health care reform? Tim Fernholz has the goods:

The AFL-CIO will only support legislation that has an employer mandate, no taxes on health-care benefits, and a public insurance option, with Trumka calling the conditions "absolute musts."

But today Sen. Max Baucus, ring-leader of the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Six" on health care reform, released his long-awaited $900 health reform plan. Let's check for "absolute musts." Employer mandate? Nope. No taxes on health-care benefits? Sorry! Public insurance option? Not exactly.

Uh oh.

As Megan McArdle points out, the bill will likely raise the price of employer provided insurance (taxes of expensive plans will likely be passed along to employers in the form of higher rates) and yet it won't require employers to provide coverage, or pay for a public option to pick up employees if they are kicked off their employers' insurance plans if the price becomes unaffordable. It doesn't require much imagination to see that the Senate plan -- and this is just the framework proposed by the Gang's leading Democrat -- will rile unions far past Obama's power to placate them with holiday promises. Happy September, White House.