But first the back story: McArdle criticized Henry Waxman, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for doing his job. It seems that AT&T is saying that the removal of a tax subsidy on businesses' health care will cost them a billion dollars.
Dallas-based telecommunications giant AT&T Inc. said Friday the company will record a $1 billion noncash charge in the first quarter of 2010 due to tax changes related to the passage of President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Waxman's committee sent a letter [pdf] to AT&T and others making the same charge.
This new law is designed to expand coverage and bring down costs, so your assertations are a matter of concern. They also appear to conflict with independent analyses. The Congressional Budget Office has reported that companies that insure more than 50 employees would see a decrease of up to 3% in average premium costs per person by 2016. The Business Roundtable,an association of chief executive officers from leading U.S. companies, asserted in November 2009 that health care reform could reduce predicted health insurance cost trends for businesses by more than $3,000 per employee over the next ten years.
The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on April 21, 2010,at 10:00 a.m. in Room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building to examine the impact of the new law on AT&T and other large employers. We request your personal testimony at this hearing.
To assist the Committee with its preparation for the hearing, 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% 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.
We ask that you provide the requested information by April 9, 2010. For purposes of this request, the term "senior company officials" includes all company officials at the level of Vice President and above for the company or any subsidiary. Attachments to this letter provide additional information about responding to Committee document requests and testifying before the Committee.
Just imagine, the chairman of the oversight committee is doing his job and providing oversight, asking companies to prove their claims. The nerve. How dare he do his job? Doesn't he know that the government is supposed to move out of the way so businesses can do whatever they want? Where was he during the Bush years? McArdle is incensed!
Henry Waxman's War on Accounting
The Democrats, however, seem to believe that Generally Accepted Accounting Principles are some sort of conspiracy against Obamacare, and all that is good and right in America.
Obviously, Waxman is incensed because this seems to put the lie to the promise that if you like your current plan, nothing will change. But this was never true. Medicare Advantage beneficiaries are basically going to see their generous benefits slashed, retiree drug benefits suddenly cost more and may now be discontinued, and ultimately, more than a few employers will almost certainly find it cheaper to shut down their plans. If Congress didn't want those things to happen, it should have passed a different law.
If Congress thinks that it made the right tradeoffs--or at least, justiiable choices--then our Congressmen should step up and accept responsibility for what they've done. At the very least, I think we can ask that they refrain from trying to force companies to join them in denying reality by threatening congressional investigation of any company who dares to notify investors that this thing is going to cost them money.
She always supports the banks, no matter what the context. Of all the things to worship--not a god or a philosophy, not art or science or nature or the physical form. Of all the beautiful and soul-expanding experiences to form an attachment to, McArdle and her ilk choose to give their hearts and souls to money, markets and bankers. What do they give in return, the promise of status through wealth? The hope of being lifted and held above the rabble by buying chauffeurs, doormen and head waiters? Why do some people have to believe they are special?