They led the most powerful forces in healthcare — the trade groups representing doctors, insurance companies, hospitals and drug makers. Any one of them could stall, if not derail, President Obama’s hopes of overhauling the U.S. healthcare system.
Instead, they stood with Obama before TV cameras at the White House and pledged their cooperation. For Obama, the show of unity gave momentum to perhaps his most ambitious domestic goal.
When the president met privately with the health industry leaders that day, Stern and a second Service Employees International Union official were the only labor representatives in the room.
In a fractious labor movement fraught with rivalries and mutual suspicion, Stern’s close association with Obama has given him cachet that may prove important in the fierce competition to lure new members.
But Stern’s access to the White House has also provoked jealousies. His opponents paint him as a polarizing figure that Obama elevates at his own peril.
The Obama-Stern relationship has emerged as one of the most curious within the young administration.
The SEIU spent $60 million to help elect Obama, according to the union. Stern said the group deployed 100,000 volunteers during the campaign, including 3,000 who worked on the election full time.
Now in the White House, Obama has continued to derive political benefits from the union. It was the SEIU’s health chief, Dennis Rivera, who helped bring industry to the table to start talks on a healthcare overhaul.
With nearly 2 million members, the SEIU says it has people in 13 states whose senators are considered important targets in the lobbying effort behind the emerging Democratic healthcare bill. The union wants to coax those senators into voting for the bill.
Stern can boast that union officials are scattered throughout the Obama administration. White House political director Patrick Gaspard is a former executive at an SEIU local based in New York. No other union has placed anyone at such a high level in the White House.
Does it seem brazen to you, that under the health care proposal being considered in the Senate, only unions’ health benefits would avoid being taxed?
With 1.8 million members across the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) ranks among the largest and fastest-growing unions in North America. It has more than 300 local affiliates and 25 state councils. Giving voice to its wish to radically transform an American society that it deems rife with inequity, SEIU’s mission is “to improv[e] the lives of workers and their families and creat[e] a more just and humane society.” Classifying Women and minorities as the most aggrieved victims of discrimination and maltreatment, SEIU notes that 56 percent of its members are women and 40 percent are “people of color.”
And as many of us know by now, ACORN, and the SEIU were started by the same person, Wade Rathke, an SDS alumni like Ayers and Dohrn (who eventually started Weatherman). Also, as was discovered last year, SEIU locals 100 and 880 and ACORN are run out of the same address on 1024 Elysian Fields Avenue in New Orleans. The SEIU is also implicated in the Blagogate mess in Chicago, apparently acting as the intermediary between the Blagojevich and the Obama camp.
It’s nice to know that some curiosity has been sparked in the MSM by all this….it reminds me of the AP’s big scoop, last December, (yeah one month after the election):
Questionable associations of Obama
Hat tip: Jackstraw
Previously at Nice Deb: