Swift Boat Watch: Service Employees International Union

See all Swift Boat Watch entries here .

Who They Are: Service Employees International Union

Purpose:  To promote the interests and values of laborers. In this election, they support Barack Obama.

President: Andy Stern

Funding: According to FEC reports, a lot of funding comes from group employees themselves, including Anna Burger and Andy Stern, who each contribute around $300 a month. Other funding comes from the union’s two million members.

Cost of the Ad: $1 million

Where It Ran: Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Oct. 6 through Oct. 10, 2008.

Related Groups: To see SEIU connections, check out this graphic from the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Claims: John McCain’s health care plan will raise taxes and deny coverage for pre-existing conditions such as cancer. McCain will also tax health benefits.

Accuracy: The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found that McCain’s health plan would not raise taxes for most families and that it would most negatively affect high-income earners. McCain’s Web site states that those with pre-existing conditions will “get the high-quality coverage they need.” But it doesn’t say how that will happen. The McCain plan will encourage people to buy health insurance plans from private companies instead of through their employer, and these private companies would all have different rules about pre-existing conditions. McCain proposes a family tax credit of $5,000 ; the average cost of health care for a family of four was $12,100 in 2007. If an employee does not purchase an employer-sponsored health care plan, employers could opt to pay the health benefits—an average of $8,800 —to the employee as wages. Families could use this extra income to make up the difference between the tax credit and insurance premium. But McCain would remove the tax exemption from this amount, which would then be taxed as income.

Background: SEIU has historically been one of the most active groups in presidential elections, and spent $12 million in 2004 . According to the FEC, SEIU has spent nearly $20 million to support Obama and almost $2 million to oppose McCain as of Oct. 9.

Swift Boat Rating:

It’s fair to say that McCain will tax health benefits, but the other two claims are a bit off. McCain’s plan does not regulate private companies’ stances on covering pre-existing conditions—it would leave that up to each individual company. Nor would his plan raise taxes for middle-class families—the $5,000 tax credit would be enough to subsidize the majority of health care plans.