A resounding endorsement of the excise tax deal by Big Labor on a conference call that just wrapped up.

PLEASE NOTE: THe "deal" was reached w/ Labor LAST NIGHT.

PLEASE ALSO NOTE ---- NEWSY BIT: Trumka said this deal reduces the revenue raised from this tax by $60 billion. That means instead of the tax, as originally written, bringing in $150 billion, it will now bring in just $90 billion.

Gerald McEntee, Pres of AFSCME, was positively effusive in his praise. It doesn't get any better, if you are a Democrat who needs his (and Labor, in general) support.

He said he had just gotten off a conference call w/ about 75-100 of his leaders who were "elated" and that "I was very pleasantly pleased as we went over details...Our people were very very pleased by it. They're ready to go out anf fight for it and even improve it down line. We're for this healthcare reform and ready to fight for it. " McEntee said he also spent 2 1/2 hours w/ House Democrats today and that though some members still want a fight for a TOTAL removal of the tax, most seemed FOR it --- and it was quite apparent that McEntee & others had gotten all they could get.

*BUT *

Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO, who led the call, was slightly more circumspect, while praising the bill. When asked if he was endorsing the bill as a result of this deal -- he said only that an endorsement will be contingent on other (unnamed) items being worked out, BUT - he sounded very much like things would be worked out.

AND

On criticism that this is a sweetheart deal for unions, Trumka noted that they "increase the threshold for everyone out there...Mostly people making those comments are people who dont want heatlhcare. We think we've done a great job for all working Americans, and that includes union members."

McEntee hinted that other "social legislation" could be necessary down the road to correct any problems that might arrise in this bill. McEntee said, 'Like any legislation passed - people live w/ it. People look at what's good, not good -- and look at legislation to improve it. Our judgement youre seeing first big - big big legislation -- and i feel it will be followed up by other social legislation."

And lastly --- on the politics ---- Trumka made it clear that this deal will grease the skids for Labor to really push Dems in this midterm.

HERE ARE THE DETAILS AS GIVEN BY TRUMKA:

1 -- Union exemption: Union plans (aka: collectively bargained plans) and local & state govt employees get a 4-year carveout (NOTE: healthare reform goes into effect in 2013).

2 --- Plans valued under $24,000 for a family and $8900 for an individual will NOT be hit by the tax. NOTE: These are referred to as "thresholds" ---- e.g., once a plan hits $24k threshold, it's hit w/ the 40% tax.

3 ---There will be a formula for 2013 & 2014 that will adjust the thresholds UP if healthcare costs skyrocket. Formula as yet unknown.

4 ---There will be a forumla for equalizing increases in plan values due to GENDER and AGE. Formula as yet unknown.

5 -- Unions will be able to enter the EXCHANGES in 2018 to buy their insurance coverage.

This ought to help Dems breathe a HUGE sigh of relief.

Now --- how will they make up for the lost revenue?

Negotiations continue on FRIDAY.