After taking John McCain to task for suggesting that health benefits may become a taxed, the democrats have changed their mind. Unless you belong to a union. The plans of Senators Baucus and Kennedy both have special exemptions for unions.
Mr. Baucus officially floated his plans for a tax this week, only with a surprising twist: His levy will not apply to union plans, at least for the duration of existing contracts. In other words, Mr. Baucus intends to tax the health-care benefits only of those who didn't spend a fortune electing Democrats to office. Sen. Ted Kennedy, who is circulating his own health-care reform, has also included provisions that will exempt unions from certain provisions.
Of course the President has been back and forth on the issue.
The administration, for its part, is bobbing and weaving. Peter Orszag, Mr. Obama's budget director, said in a recent hearing that a benefits tax "most firmly should remain on the table," a comment immediately followed by White House assurances that, honestly, it hated the idea. Mr. Baucus also recently reported that the president remained open to the idea, a comment again instantly refuted from above. The president may well be attracted to the dollars of a benefit tax, but he's waiting to see if he can blame Congress for dragging him into it.