Unions and Obamacare, Part 3: A Financial and Political Resource for Left-Wing Groups
A corrupt union official who orchestrated massive campaigns involving identity fraud in furtherance of voter fraud and who covered up a million-dollar embezzlement will soon have unfettered access to confidential information on thousands of people seeking health insurance.
That man is disgraced ACORN founder Wade Rathke, and his shady union will soon be helping people enroll in Obamacare exchanges. Rathke’s labor vehicle, United Labor Unions (ULU) Local 100 in New Orleans, announced on its Facebook page September 15 that it was gearing up “to do mass enrollment and help navigate people into the marketplaces in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas under the Affordable Care Act.”
“Local 100’s role as a Navigator, suggest the program is less about health care and more about building a new progressive infrastructure,” said longtime ACORN-watcher Mike Flynn of Breitbart.com.
The now-defunct 400,000-member ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) was the nation’s pre-eminent protest group to be inspired by the work of Saul Alinsky. ACORN has a long relationship with the labor union movement. In 1979, ACORN created the United Labor Unions, which it used to organize low-wage, fast-food, and home healthcare workers in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas.
The former employer and legal client of Barack Obama, ACORN is the nonprofit group that knowingly hired felons convicted of identity theft to work on voter registration drives, giving them custody of sensitive voter information.
As one of us, Matthew Vadum, shows in the ACORN exposé Subversion Inc. (WND Books, 2011), ACORN is infamous for such practices as hiring felons without bothering to do background checks, storming hospital emergency rooms and city council chambers, using voter fraud to turn graveyards across the nation into Democratic electoral strongholds, and using mob violence against bank executives and other shakedown targets. The organization has a record of ruthlessly exploiting its own employees, even going to court to seek an exemption from minimum wage laws. ACORN’s record was so atrocious that one of the two union locals it controlled, Local 100, was kicked out of the SEIU, America’s most prominent radical union. (The other, Local 880 in Illinois, was absorbed by a larger SEIU bargaining unit.)
The group collapsed three years ago after a series of long, painful scandals. In mid-2008 Wade Rathke was caught covering up his brother’s theft of approximately $948,000, some of it from ACORN pension funds. After ACORN’s national board expelled the group’s own founder, foundations ran away from the group. In fall 2009, undercover videos by James O’Keefe III and Hannah Giles showed ACORN employees giving advice on how to lie to the government, commit tax fraud, and trick banks into providing loans for brothels.
ACORN had received some $79 million in federal taxpayers’ money over the years, but after the O’Keefe/Giles exposé the government spigot was cut off and those donors who were not already put off by the embezzlement scandal stopped giving. The group went bankrupt. Today, however, although ACORN the nonprofit entity may be dead, its many successor groups are operating under different names (see “ACORN International” in the October Organization Trends).
ACORN’s resurrected groups aren’t the only ones involved in the effort to “sell” Obamacare. Many left-wing groups that have not signed contracts with the Department of Health and Human Services or received government grants to enroll new patients have nonetheless pledged to help promote the exchanges being created under Obamacare. Each recognized “Champion of Coverage” group vows to promote enrollment by emailing its members, hanging posters or giving out fact sheets and brochures, holding conference calls, or promoting enrollment in other ways. The HHS list of groups involved in the effort includes such left-wingers as Families USA, AARP, the League of Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the National Council of La Raza (“The Race” in Spanish), and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund.
Along the way, the Navigator effort will be aided by Hollywood. According to Newsmax, the Obama administration is “turning its focus on primetime television series, using the influential platform and the power of celebrity to spread the word about its healthcare initiative.”
With the White House’s blessing, the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Norman Lear Center, which has a “Hollywood, Health & Society program,” has accepted a $500,000 grant from the left-wing California Endowment to get pro-Obamacare information to TV producers, writers, and directors so they can incorporate it into their programs. It will also generate public service announcements to mirror the TV shows’ storylines.
The USC program also promotes Global Warming theory. Officials boast that the program’s “storytelling resources” contributed to more than 550 Hollywood storylines over just three years on programs ranging from “Mad Men” to “All My Children” and from “The West Wing” and “Desperate Housewives” to “Malcolm in the Middle” and the news show “60 Minutes.”
Navigators of the Left
One reason most unions still support Obamacare is the huge influx of cash it provides to the Left’s organizing efforts for the 2014 election and beyond. Obamacare regulations provide for the hiring of an army of “Navigators” who will help “educate” the public about the program, at an initial cost of at least $53 million. Navigators come largely from unions such as the SEIU and that union’s left-wing political allies such as the NAACP and the Urban League. The abortion industry will also provide Navigators, with more than $1 million going to Planned Parenthood in Montana, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Washington, D.C.
Obamacare may be considered too complex for the average citizen or even the average Ph.D. to understand, but the Navigators will be hired without regard to minimum educational requirements, and they’ll receive only about 20 hours of training before starting work at a pay rate of up to $48 an hour.
They will be hired without licensing or standard background checks, even though they will have access to Americans’ most personal information, ranging from employment and income history and Social Security numbers to a person’s record of medical conditions and pharmaceutical use. That information will come from a “data hub” that gathers personal records from at least seven government agencies, including the IRS, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration, and the Department of Homeland Security. “Besides the obvious identity theft concerns, this is a frightening development in light of the political activities and invasion of privacy, which the IRS and others have engaged in during the Obama presidency,” noted Gov. Bobby Jindal (R- La.).
Jindal, formerly the top adviser to the HHS Secretary in George W. Bush’s administration, is painfully aware of ACORN’s antics over the years. He warns that the Obamacare Navigator program, like all of Obamacare, is deeply flawed. “‘Navigator’ is a crafty name, but in reality, there are very few restrictions on who they are, and what exactly they are supposed to be doing,” Jindal said. “‘Navigators’ are supposed to be hired to help consumers understand the law and the insurance coverage provisions in the new health exchanges. Sounds like a job for a rocket scientist.
“The Navigators are prohibited from having financial ties to an insurance company, but other than that there are few constraints. Union organizers and community activists are among the types that are allowed to be hired as Navigators, and having prior experience working in the healthcare field doesn’t seem to necessarily be a prerequisite for the job.”
Turning the tide
Here’s what’s likely to happen: Funded by taxpayers, Navigators will promote the idea that Obamacare is a historic achievement by a kind and loving federal government, one for which we should all be grateful. They will also register people to vote . They will build profiles of voter preferences based on their personal information, and build door-to-door networks that will be used to turn out the vote for favored candidates. Their efforts will focus especially on states and districts with key races that will decide control of Congress.
Speaking last year at a convention of the National Action Network, headed by the radical preacher Al Sharpton, HHS Secretary Sebelius declared: “In our country what we know is health care inequality one of the most persistent forms of injustice, but over the past three years, as Rev. Sharpton reminded us, we have begun to turn the tide. Now is not the time to turn back.”
Matthew Vadum is editor of Organization Trends and Foundation Watch at the Capital Research Center. Steven J. Allen is editor of Labor Watch. This post is the second of a three-part series originally published by Labor Watch, a project of the Capitol Research Center, and is published here with permission.