AP Report Gives Waxman Cover for Cancelled Hearings on Corporate ObamaCare Expense Recognition

April 17th, 2010 11:18 PM
http://i739.photobucket.com/albums/xx40/mmatters/WaxmanTalk about running interference.

On Wednesday, Congressman Henry Waxman cancelled hearings, or what Michelle Malkin referred to as "show trials" in her Friday syndicated column, designed to put the spotlight on companies that dared to do what they legally had to do in response to the passage of ObamaCare: tell the public the estimated impact on their bottom lines relating to a specific tax law chance that was included in the legislation.

Despite the legal requirement, the headline of the Associated Press's coverage on the day of the announcement described the companies' announcements as "gripes." AP Business Writer Matthew Perrone called them "concerns," and acted as if the companies backed down, when the only qualification involved a questionably and largely unrelated item, i.e., what might happen if the law manages to lower overall health care costs.

That journalistically inaccurate narrative gave Waxman an undeserved way out of the heavyhanded mess that he created.

Here are the related paragraphs of Perrone's pathetic piece:

Dems cancel hearing on business health care gripes

Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday canceled a hearing called to hear concerns by AT&T and other corporations about new employer costs in the health care overhaul, saying the companies now believe the overhaul could ease their costs if implemented properly.

AT&T, Caterpillar, AK Steel and other companies said last month they would be forced to take billions of dollars in writedowns because of changes in how health care subsidies will be taxed.

But Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., issued a statement late Wednesday, saying he canceled a hearing scheduled for next Wednesday at the request of several companies that want more time to see how the law is implemented.

"Companies like AT&T, Verizon, and a range of stakeholder associations are hopeful that the benefits of the new law will outweigh the costs," Waxman stated.

... Under the Medicare prescription drug program, companies that provide prescription drug benefits for retirees have been able to receive subsidies covering 28 percent of eligible costs. But they could deduct the entire amount they spent on these drug benefits - including the subsidies - from their taxable income.

The new law allows companies to only deduct the 72 percent they spend.

However, company executives have apparently changed their minds about the extent of that cost.

The 2nd- and 3rd-last paragraphs of the excerpt describe a specifically quantifiable change in tax treatment. The items that Perrone said "apparently changed their minds" of the companies is unrelated, as Malkin noted in her column (links included were in original):

An April 14 memorandum from the Committee on Energy and Commerce Majority Staff informed the Democratic hounds that the “companies acted properly and in accordance with accounting standards in submitting filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission in March and April.” Indeed, after haggling about the overall impact of the health care mandate on firms’ annual company cash flows, the staff memo acknowledged that notifying shareholders of these big one-time company write-downs was “required” by law.

No apology from Locke, Waxman or his Democratic co-bully on the committee Rep. Bart Stupak has been forthcoming. Instead, the ruling majority seems bent on pressuring private companies to peddle the “beneficial” impacts of the law. The committee staff extracted statements from the targeted companies that “if” implemented “right” and “correct(ly),” Obamacare “could” achieve “long term savings for the country” and their businesses. And “if” donkeys were elephants, they “could” spray water from their trunks.

As Elizabeth MacDonald of Fox Business Network points out, the Democrats continue to distort a Business Roundtable study — cited in Waxman’s threat letters to Deere, Caterpillar, Verizon and AT&T — in order to bolster their claims that Obamacare will create cost-savings of $3,000 on average per worker over 10 years. But “the study is not based on the new bill,” she reports, and is premised on Congress adopting free-market changes and malpractice reform abandoned by the Democrats.

The statements mentioned in the second paragraph of the Malkin excerpt do not change by even one iota what the companies were legally required to disclose. Malkin's third paragraph demonstrates that the supposed "mind change" cited by the AP's Perrone depends not on "how the law is implemented," but on the passage of whole new laws, something no one can predict with certainty. That's some pretty deep deception, even by the AP's non-standards. Shame on Perrone for carrying it out.

Expect more volunteer defense to be played by the press apparatchiks like the AP's Matthew Perrone in the coming months.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.