This story really should be bigger than it is. But it isn't, because the Bought and Paid For Media realized that this kind of "publicity" is bad for the President's new healthcare plan.
Seems that the bill closes a tax loophole granted American businesses during the Bush Administration (the younger). In order to incent businesses to keep their retirees enrolled in their own prescription drug benefit plans (rather than offload them to the new Medicare Prescription Drug benefit), companies were offered tax breaks.
This new bill eliminates the tax break.
This means taxes will rise.
Which means profits will go down, in ceteris paribus.
Which means public corporations are obligated to report balance sheet adjustments to their shareholders. Which several have done.
News is dribbling out of large US Companies taking one time "charges" against that represent anticipated costs that would not have been borne under the previous taxation regime. ATT is claiming $1B; Caterpillar, Verizon, John Deere and others have announced charges of their own. Because this does not fit the "bending the cost curve" narrative of the One and his henchman, Henry Waxman is hauling CEO's before a Congressional Committee to browbeat and intimidate these businesspeople. Here's how I'd like to hear one of them talk:
"Mr. Chairman, thank you for this opportunity to explain to you and to the other members of this body some important, fundamental facts about running a business. I don't expect you to have a firm grasp of these points, just as I wouldn't think that you would believe me well-versed in the arcana of machinery of the House of Representatives.
I am the CEO of (Company X). I must sign the financial reports that my company is duty bound as a public company to file. I am personally and criminally liable should those reports purposefully mislead stockholders or potential stockholders.
The law of the land granted my company and others a tax break to ensure that we would continue to fund prescription drug benefits for our retirees, even after a generous prescription drug benefit was passed by the Congress. This financial fact of life is reflected my corporate balance sheet in a lower tax "expense" than would have been the case in the absence of the law.
The new healthcare plan removes that tax break. I am not here to quibble with that fact--it is after all, the law of the land. But as a dutiful officer with fiduciary duty in (XXX COMPANY), I am legally obligated to inform stockholders of major changes to our financial statements. As this tax break has been removed, our tax expense will increase, which will cause a concomitant decrease in our profitability. These are the facts, and they are not in dispute.
Are our memories so short that we have forgotten the lynch mobs assembled when the management of Global Crossing, Enron, and Lehman Brothers appeared to have withheld pertinent financial data from stockholders and debtholders? Were not some of the hearings designed to reveal these crimes not held in this very room?
Mr. Chairman, I am sorry that it is inconvenient to you and others politically that legislation you supported will have wholly foreseeable consequences on American businesses. If you invite me back, I'd be pleased to spend additional time with you to explain a number of them, so that we might be educated in advance, and avoid another Stalin-like show trial. But for the time being, I wish to register with you here today, and with the American people watching and listening, my complete and utter disdain for you, this body, and your incredible short-sightedness. You haul us up here as if we are common criminals, because we are doing what the law requires us to do. You preen about a bill you believe will cut costs without having the slightest idea how it will perform such a trick.
Mr. Chairman, this is a deeply offensive moment for the country. This body has brought discredit upon itself today."