Thursday, December 15, 2011

Would You Like Some Chablis with That Bailout…?

As we reported on Friday, Obamacare’s early retiree reinsurance program has run out of its $5 billion allotment – thus prompting the program to be shut at the end of the year, two years ahead of schedule.  Now staff on the Energy and Commerce Committee have released updated data regarding the program – and have revealed that the top 20 recipients of program funding have received nearly half the total spent.  The top five recipients represent a good cross section of participants in the program as a whole – unions (led by the United Auto Workers, with $387.2 million received), public employee retirement systems (Ohio state retiree plan, $180.1 million, and CalPERS, $131.4 million), and union-heavy employers (AT&T, $213.8 million, and Verizon, $163 million).  All these recipients have received what amount to nine-figure bailouts from federal taxpayers for retiree health obligations they can no longer afford – and, some would argue, commitments they never should have made to begin with.

It’s also interesting to note some of the other recipients of early retiree reinsurance funding to date:

Hollywood Actors:  The Screen Actors Guild health plan received $3,049,896.15;

Big Banks:  Citigroup received $8,025,097.27, Bank of America received $4,610,027.20, Wells Fargo received $5,509,779.81, and JPMorganChase received $8,568,059.48;

Wine Makers:  The E&J Gallo Winery received $331,527.85;

Insurance Companies:  Aetna received $3,131,538.39, while Cigna received $1,346,231.13; and

Collaborators with Hostile Foreign Regimes:  Citgo received $3,390,900.84.  Citgo is wholly owned by Venezuela’s state oil company, and has in the minds of many become a political tool for Hugo Chavez’ regime.

Given that the federal government is running trillion-dollar deficits, many would argue that it was inappropriate to use taxpayer funds to bail out big banks (again), Hollywood actors, or California wineries.  Claims of the Administration aside, this kind of spending money is driving America bankrupt – one of many things wrong about Obamacare.