Is big business orchestrating a pushback against Obamacare? 

Valerie Jarret, slumlord extroardinaire and the White House corporate liaison, doesn’t think businesses are bothered enough by their ObamaCare-inspired $14 billion markdown in profits to fight against Obamacare:

“I have not observed an orchestrated effort,” said Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama.

Health-care charges filed by Boeing Co., AT&T Inc., Caterpillar Inc., Deere & Co. and other companies have generated a series of headlines since the March 23 bill-signing by Obama.

The disclosures, tied to a 2013 elimination of a tax break on retiree drug benefits, ultimately may shave as much as $14 billion from U.S. corporate profits, according to an estimate by benefits consultancy Towers Watson.

Several of the companies notified the White House as soon as their regulatory filings were made public, Jarrett said.

“We have a good working relationship with them and they didn’t want us to be caught by surprise,” she said. “Some of the ones who have the highest dollar amount I have spoken to directly, and I appreciated them giving me the heads up.”

Chicago-based Boeing, the world’s second-largest commercial-plane maker, said today it plans to record a $150 million charge because of the law change.

AT&T, based in Dallas, announced last week that it was taking a $1 billion charge because of the change in law. Moline, Illinois-based Deere, the world’s largest maker of farm machinery, announced a $150 million charge. And Peoria, Illinois-based Caterpillar, the world’s largest maker of bulldozers, has claimed a $100 million charge.

If Obamacare is so good for big employers, why is the Chamber of Commerce planning a big political push for the upcoming mid-terms?

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which lobbied against the health-care overhaul, said in a March 29 letter to its board of directors that it plans to spend $50 million this summer and fall to “ensure that voters in pivotal House and Senate races understand exactly where lawmakers stand on health care and other vital issues.”

Perhaps businesses are looking for hope and change come November.

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Mark Hemingway

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