EDITORIAL: Trading down to Obamacare

Employers are waking up, trying to smell the missing coffee

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

View results

The public remains deeply skeptical about Obamacare. Several new polls find that most people still think it’s a bad idea, and opinions divide not just between liberals and conservatives, but rankle everybody.

The government health care takeover has forced employers large and small to cut health insurance coverage, if not cancel it, for part-time employees, their spouses and retirees. Two iconic marketplace brands take two dramatically different survival plans, pitting 2 percent chai lattes against Two-Buck Chuck. Starbucks coffee chief Howard Schultz insists it’s “a good thing for the country.” Trader Joe‘s, the specialty grocery-store chain, begs to differ. Joe will no longer provide health care coverage to part-timers. Part-timers in the checkout lines, stocking the shelves and wrangling carts in the parking lot will get a check for $500, printed instructions directing them to the nearest Obamacare insurance exchange, and a wish for good luck. Those exchanges are scheduled to open Oct. 1, ready or not. Most aren’t.

Starbucks, unlike UPS, Time Warner, IBM, Delta Air Lines, Seaworld, the state universities of Virginia and Indiana and others, including Trader Joe‘s, will tough it out. Even as major employers around the country warn of Obamacare’s rising costs and cut coverage or dispense with coverage altogether, the Starbucks CEO recently told CNBC, “I would encourage [employers] to find ways to provide the insurance and not figure out a way to either lower the hours or get around the system.” That may be easier for him to say than for an earnest coffee grinder to get insurance.

Trader Joe’s employees are going on the dole. “We believe that with the $500 from Trader Joe’s and the tax credits available under [Obamacare],” Trader Joe’s CEO Dan Bane wrote in an Aug. 30 memo, “many of you should be able to obtain health care coverage at very little, if any, net cost to you.” Other employers are likely to follow, assigning their health expenses to the public. Sending Americans into the exchanges, where government subsidies for coverage is available, will drive up costs for everyone.

The Trader Joe’s view of Obamacare is in line with that of rival grocery chain Whole Foods. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey once likened Obamacare to a socialistic “government takeover of our health care system.” That was in an op-ed essay in The Wall Street Journal in 2009. By the middle of January this year, he had changed his mind. “It’s more like fascism,” he told NPR News. “In fascism, the government doesn’t own the means of production, but they do control it, and that’s what happening with our health care programs and these reforms.”

Nancy Pelosi once cheerily told one and all about Obamacare that “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,” and it turns out that she was right. Congress passed it, and now we’re finding out what’s in it. President Obama and the Democrats are finding out that almost nobody likes it.

blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks
You Might Also Like
  • Maureen McDonnell looks on as her husband, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, made a statement on Tuesday after the couple was indicted on corruption charges. (associated press)

    PRUDEN: Where have the big-time grifters gone?

  • This photo taken Jan. 9, 2014,  shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gesturing as he answers a question during a news conference  at the Statehouse in Trenton.  Christie will propose extending the public school calendar and lengthening the school day in a speech he hopes will help him rebound from an apparent political payback scheme orchestrated by key aides. The early front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination will make a case Tuesday Jan. 14, 2014, that children who spend more time in school graduate better prepared academically, according to excerpts of his State of the State address obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    BRUCE: Bombastic arrogance or humble determination? Chris Christie’s choice

  • ** FILE ** Secretary of State Hillary Rodham testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

    PRUDEN: The question to haunt the West

  • Get Breaking Alerts