We at the Rogue Desk can stomach an attack ad if it's got some substance.
But this week's roster of Rogues—Ken Allen, executive director of Oregon AFSCME Council 75; Dan Clay, president of Oregon UFCW Local 555; and Tom Chamberlain, president of Oregon AFL-CIO—don't have all the facts on their side.
Last week, in a sure sign a healthcare reform bill from U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) faces an optimistic diagnosis in Congress, Allen, Clay and Chamberlain helped start a radio campaign attacking Wyden, who is typically an ally of labor.
It's fine to disagree with Wyden. But Oregon's senior senator is making an honest effort to tackle health care, and the unions are using scare tactics to derail him. Wyden's proposal would change the tax code. Though the unions complain the proposal taxes health care for the middle class, it also creates a new tax deduction and subsidies that would save middle-class families money, Wyden says.
In 2006, an independent group found Wyden's plan would save families earning up to $150,000 about $300 a year. (For more, see "Sicko and the Senator," WW, July 11, 2007.) What it wouldn't do is allow "Cadillac" healthcare plans to keep their current tax-free status. "If some unions want to negotiate for better health coverage than some members of Congress have, we respect their right to do so," says Josh Kardon, Wyden's chief of staff. "But Americans shouldn't subsidize Cadillac health benefits for a wealthy few."
Clay calls the ad "accurate." Chamberlain says Wyden is creating a "smoke screen."
Meanwhile, the Rogue Desk hopes Wyden's union attackers don't screw up the debate as badly as the system we all want to reform.