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Cadillac Flip Flop: Obama Was Against Health Plan Tax Before He Was For It

In a video that rings so true it hurts, Lee Stranahan–a former Obama supporter–gives us the aspiring president’s own speech.  Only a month before the 2008 election, Obama makes it plain just how bad an idea the “Cadillac” excise tax on health benefits actually is:

John McCain calls these plans “Cadillac plans.”  Now in some cases, it may be that a corporate CEO is getting too good a deal. But what if you’re a line worker making a good American car like the Cadillac?  What if you’re one of the steelworkers who are working right here in Newport News,  and you’ve given up wage increases in exchange for a better health care?

Well, Senator McCain believes you should pay higher taxes too.  The bottom line: the better your health care plan – the harder you’ve fought for your good benefits – the higher the taxes you’ll pay.


You see, Senator McCain would pay for his plan, in part, by taxing your health care benefits for the first time in history.

This plan, as Stranahan (and Obama) make clear, is a new tax on the middle class. It’s the kind of tax that could potentially ruin the health insurance that many Americans struggled to get through the collective bargaining process.

Alas, some in organized labor have only sought to get exemptions or cutouts for themselves rather than oppose this regressive tax outright.

The House version of the legislation contained a better idea for funding health care reform—a small tax increase on the very highest incomes in the tradition of the progressive federal income tax that has worked to build this country’s best programs for nearly a century. But rather than stick to their better idea, House leadership has signaled that they will roll over for today’s President Obama, and accept the tax on health benefits, but request a temporarily higher threshold. Not smart, not small or large “D” democratic, not what Obama promised back in 2008.

“This entire health care plan is a huge sellout to the insurance industry,” says Stranahan, “There are side effects to mandating that every person be forced to buy private insurance. . . Obama “didn’t run on mandates, he ran against mandates.”

“We have been given a watered down, corporate-friendly health care bill”—this is not what Lee voted for, this not what any of us voted for.

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Gregg Levine

Gregg Levine