Sunday, September 23, 2007

GM $51 Thousand-Million Short at the Table

GM, UAW Move Closer to Health Care Deal

By TOM KRISHER
The Associated Press Sunday, September 23, 2007; 4:44 AM

DETROIT -- Negotiators in lengthy contract talks between General Motors Corp. and the United Auto Workers were due to return to the table Sunday amid optimism that they were close to a settlement.

Two people who have been briefed on the talks said Saturday that bargainers reported progress toward an agreement on the linchpin of the talks, GM funding a union-run trust that would take over much of the company's $51 billion unfunded obligation to pay health care costs for retirees.

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Walter Reuther swung some pretty good deals for health care and retirement in the days when American cars actually meant something.

But now Walter is under some concrete somewhere and GM is under a mountain of their own making. Any actuary (had they been asked) could have predicted with stunning accuracy how high that mountain would be.

GM (followed by Ford, Chrysler, various airlines and other businesses) is getting out of the health business as best they can--by paying a big hunk directly to the unions and heading back to the golf course.

George Bush can talk all he cares to about 'steps toward national single-payer health care,' but it is already here and only the rhetoric remains. He'll soon head to the golf course as well. No one in this 'not me' government--Democrat or Republican--has the courage to begin a rational conversation about (everybody hold your nose now) socialized medicine.

It's coming--and it best come while we still have a chance of paying for it--before Big Pharma and Big Insurance has drained the swamp.


* For more in-depth articles by Jim on Health Care, check out Opinion-Columns.com