CEOs won’t dare defy Waxman, even with facts on their side

In the aftermath of World War II, the U.S. Senate War Investigating Committee called hearings in an attempt to publicly shame and excoriate industrial titan Howard Hughes. Hughes was accused of wasting taxpayer money on his F-11 and HK-1 projects. The hearings backfired as the stubborn Hughes accused the Senators of corruption and blackmail and of being beholden to his competitors, and he detailed the millions of his own dollars he spent on these projects.
The committee, embarrassed by the unexpectedly effective defiance of the infamous recluse, disbanded without filing a report.

Don’t expect that kind of defiance from the chief executives of AT&T, Verizon Communications, Caterpillar, and Deere & Co., if they respond to the demands of powerful Democratic Chairman Henry Waxman. In letters issued Friday, Waxman called on each of these CEOs to appear before his committee for the absurd purpose of defending internal memos to their own employees, and related statements to the press, about the impending changes in their health care plans.

Of course, these CEOs likely had little or no involvement in the estimates about how these new policies would affect their companies. They have hardworking professional staffers and auditors who focus on these issues for a living and make assessments not for the sake of politics but with an eye on what’s best for the company, its shareholders and its employees.

The trouble for Waxman and his fellow Democrat leaders arises from the direct conflict between the (accurate) statements of these companies and Obama’s oft-repeated promises that if you’re happy with your health care, nothing will change.
Obama said in Iowa City last week, “[My opponents] will have to finally acknowledge that this isn’t a government takeover of our health care system. They will see that if Americans like their doctor, they will keep their doctor. If people like their plan, they will keep their plan.”

The ludicrous nature of this claim didn’t prevent Obama from saying it again and again (but these are words, just words) even as the Associated Press, ABC News, FactCheck.org, and a multitude of independent groups found this promise inaccurate at best. These predictions were borne out within the week, as companies warned employees their coverage plans will change in the face of new taxes and cut off tax breaks for providing benefits.

In a regulatory filing last week, AT&T reported, “As a result of this legislation, including the additional tax burden, AT&T will be evaluating prospective changes to the active and retiree health-care benefits offered by the company.” It also announced that the health care legislation would result in a $1 billion first quarter non-cash charge against profits.

  • artinflorida

    I want to see the CEO’s give Mr. Waxman a lesson in business accounting and the Law of Unintended Consequences.
    I’d love to see Waxman shown for what he is and humiliated.
    Does Waxman think these numbers came out of the air?
    If he’s claiming they’re phony, he’s making an accusation of the CEO’s cooking the books. Think he’ll make a referral to the SEC? I think not.

    At some point the business community has to take a stand and not let itself be the administrations whipping boy.



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  • goldbeachbiker

    I beg to differ with your assessment, Mr. Domenech. If 1,000 company CEOs or more were to show up at Waxman’s hearing, and basically tell him and congress to go f%$k themselves, the effect would be immeasurable. I mean, how expensive can a contempt of congress fine actually be? $500, $1,000, $5,000? It’s inconsequential. The Chamber of Congress would probably spring for the fines. The payback to the conservative movement would be ENORMOUS! Someone needs to run with this idea.

  • sunnyr

    Comrade Commisar Wexler is going to make a big FOOL of himself. I hope these CEO’s bring their balls with them and stand up to this ugly, corrupt 2-bit THUG!

  • starz

    A man washed up on a desert island after a shipwreck. The only other survivors were a sheep and a sheepdog.

    The three of them got into the habit of going down to the beach every evening to watch the sunset.

    One particular evening, the sky was a fiery red with beautiful cirrus clouds and the breeze was warm and gentle. It was a perfect night for romance. As they sat there, the sheep started looking better and better to the lonely man. Soon, he leaned over and put his arm around the sheep.

    But the sheepdog, ever protective of the sheep, growled fiercely until the man took his arm from around the sheep.

    A few weeks passed by and, lo and behold, there was another shipwreck. The only survivor was Nancy Pelosi.

    That evening, the man took Nancy to the evening beach ritual. It was another beautiful tropical evening – perfect for romance. Before long the man started to get “those feelings” again.

    He fought the urges as long as he could but he finally gave in, moved closer to Nancy and told her he hadn’t had sex for months.

    Nancy batted her ugly, gross eyelashes and asked if there was anything she could do to help.

    “Yes,” he said, “Take the dog for a walk.”

  • kiana1

    The apparent reality that has surfaced is that these large corporations who pay huge bonuses, were beholding to the federal government to pay less taxes based on the sweet heart deals their political friends afforded them.
    This corporate subsidy by the federal government is akin to pork barrel tax cuts for the rich. Well if Boeing, AT&T and Caterpillar can’t cut it now, I’m sure some other company can fill those future opportunities with jobs.
    Just ask the workers in the auto plants in Alabama. It’s highly possible.

  • apberusdisvet

    The CEOs should asked to be grilled by a businessman; one who actually knows what a balance sheet is. Oh! they can’t find one; not even in the WH?