First, they came for the union retirees....
Well, actually, they did that already, several times. But they're doing it again. Online WSJ:
Blame Is Put on Management, but More Pain Looms for Hourly Workers, Retirees
President Barack Obama's recovery plan for General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC appears to take aim at union retirees, a usually reliable Democratic constituency.
Especially since the state of Michigan went for Obama in the primaries. Oh, wait...
The three Detroit auto makers provide health care for more than one million Americans, including union retirees and their dependents. In 2007, the union agreed to allow GM, Chrysler and Ford Motor Co. to pay billions of dollars into a trust fund, known as a VEBA, or voluntary employee beneficiary association, that the union would manage and use to cover the cost of retiree health care.
Under the terms of the bailout loans GM and Chrysler have accepted from the federal government, they are supposed to renegotiate [loot] the VEBA agreements so they can put a combination of cash and stock into the funds or equity.
Isn't that great?
Of course, if Big Auto backed single payer, problem solved. Too bad that's off the table, despite the lip service Obama and the administration give to an open process with all options given fair consideration.
Clem Wittman, 68 years old, spent three decades working the assembly line for GM, building Monte Carlos and Skylarks in Kansas City, Mo. On Monday, he watched as Mr. Obama outlined his plans for steering the future of GM and Chrysler without explicit mention of the retirees. "It was scary because he never mentioned the retirees and legacy costs," Mr. Wittman said. "What 85-year-old can go out and get another job?"
He takes 11 medications, including some which cost more than $100 a month, all covered by GM health-care programs. Mr. Wittman said that for 30 years he paid for those benefits and shouldn't be asked to give them back.
"Shared sacrifice" is totally fine with me. As long as it's clear that Clem Wittman and those like him have already done all the sacrificing they're going to do.