AFL-CIO (Finally) Endorses Health Care Reform. Will It Matter?

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The AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation, decided to officially endorse the final health care bill today, giving the Democrats another ally in their final scramble for votes. The group had been divided over whether to endorse the final bill due to deep-seated concerns about the excise tax—particularly a last-minute provision that increased the rate of the tax’s increase in 2020.

What finally convinced the group to come on board? The AFL-CIO had successfully lobbied for a delay in implementing the excise bill for non-unionized, as well as unionized workers—which also bought them time to push for further changes. “We have 10 years to change something,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said on a conference call this afternoon. “We intend to go out and say to our members, this is what we’ve accomplished this is what the bill does, this is not the end of health care reform—we still have room to move and we’ll continue to fight.” The group also won a commitment from the White House to pass a separate provision that would require construction contractors with more than five workers to provide insurance, which building trade unions have been pushing for.

The AFL-CIO has now joined the group of labor heavyweights who’ve thrown their weight behind lobbying for the bill, including the SEIU and AFSCME. Trumka confirmed that the AFL-CIO would “move immediately” to urge its members to lobby every undecided member of Congress to vote for the bill—“making visits, making house calls, letters” across the country to ramp up the pressure.

Trumka held off, however, from saying whether the group would explicitly use primary challenges to sway House votes on the bill—or to punish Democrats who end up voting against it. “We’re not prepared to make any threats right now,” he said, though adding that “nothing is off the table.”

Despite the full endorsement from the group’s national leadership, the AFL-CIO will still have to work to rally some of its resistant member unions behind the bill—not to mention the union households who’ve voted down the Democratic agenda in places like Massachusetts. And one wonders whether the AFL-CIO’s last-minute endorsement will have much of an effect on a vote that’s scheduled to happen as soon as this weekend.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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