In the immediate aftermath of the passage of health care legislation, several companies have announced nine and ten figure charges against earnings due to the effects of the legislation. This sent many Congressmen into a rage, most notably Henry Waxman and Bart Stupak, who have summoned the CEOs of the companies to testify about their decisions.
Let me see if I get this. In Waxman-Stupak land:
- Corporations are greedy profit maximizers who often lie on their financial statements to exaggerate their performance;
- The health care law will reduce corporate health care costs, thereby increasing profits, but;
- Corporations oppose the health care law because they are greedy, and are lying in order to torpedo it.
Huh? If these corporations really wanted to torpedo the law, they would have been much more outspoken BEFORE it was passed. Now the horse has pretty much left the barn, you know?
More importantly, if the law truly will reduce costs, what possible motive would companies have to oppose it, and lie to make it look like a bad deal? Under this hypothetical, wouldn’t this be against their own interests, the interests which Waxman, Stupak, et al believe companies will do anything fair or foul to advance? Wouldn’t they be praising it to the heavens, and showering campaign contributions and travel junkets on those responsible for its passage to demonstrate their gratitude at being liberated from exploding health care costs?
Even on the Waxman-Stupak Scale*, this is cosmically stupid. No, the true crime of these companies is to (a) follow the law requiring them to make public disclosures about events that will have a material impact on reported financial results, and (b) in so doing, make it clear that the health care legislation will have seriously detrimental effects on large swathes of the public. Yes, the public, not just the corporations; because the announced charges relate to retiree benefits, which will almost certainly prove to be unsupportably expensive going forward. And these announcements are just the harbingers of future unpleasant surprises to come.
Again: no man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session. Especially with this lot.
* The Waxman-Stupak Stupidity Scale is analogous to the Kelvin temperature scale, with zero indicating absolute lack of any mental activity.