ObamaCare: ‘Liberating’ the Workers


Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 4.21.52 AMOn Tuesday, a report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) revealed that ObamaCare will have a “substantially larger” impact on the job market than the originally anticipated reduction of 800,000 full-time workers. Instead, the CBO predicts that the law will reduce the workforce by the equivalent of 2.3 million full-time jobs by 2021, and 2.5 million over the next decade. Most people would consider that bad news. Yet according to media organizations that have devolved into little more than Obama administration cheerleaders, most people are wrong. In short, for an American left working overtime to save the ongoing disaster known as ObamaCare, bad news is good news.

Unsurprisingly, the New York Times is leading the charge, characterizing the more than tripling in the reduction of workforce participation as “liberating.” They contend ObamaCare “will free people, young and old, to pursue careers or retirement without having to worry about health coverage. Workers can seek positions they are most qualified for and will no longer need to feel locked into a job they don’t like because they need insurance for themselves or their families. It is hard to view this as any kind of disaster.”

The LA Times, offers a different spin, saying that ”the CBO estimates that on balance, the ACA will increase aggregate demand for goods and services, in part by relieving lower-income people of the burden of health insurance or healthcare expenses, so they can increase their spending on other things. In turn, that will ‘boost demand for labor,’ especially in the near term, while the economy remains slack.”

CBS News anchor Scott Pelley contended the CBO report was “both surprising and widely misunderstood,” and that reduction in labor aren’t “necessarily jobs being lost. They’re also workers choosing to work less.” ABC’s Jonathan Karl also played up the good news angle, noting that people “can qualify for subsidized health care without a full-time job. And again, others will actually find it’s just not worth it to work full-time.” NBC’s Brian Williams noted the reduction in jobs or working hours, but insisted that “the White House is cautioning, for its part, that those departures are more a result of workers’ flexibility to leave their jobs and still have health insurance.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney went much further than that. In a released statement, he insisted that “individuals will be empowered to make choices about their own lives and livelihoods,” and that they “would have the opportunity to pursue their dreams.”

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) chimed in as well, claiming the CBO report “rightfully says, that people shouldn’t have job lock. If they–we live in a country where there should be free agency. People can do what they want,” he told reporters.

If all of this “liberation” has a familiar ring, it’s because Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said virtually the same thing four years ago. She spoke about musicians and other creative types who could quit their jobs and focus on developing their talents. “We see it as an entrepreneurial bill, a bill that says to someone, if you want to be creative and be a musician or whatever, you can leave your work, focus on your talent, your skill, your passion, your aspirations because you will have health care,” Pelosi declared at the time.

Yet who, exactly, is being liberated? As the New York Times explains, one of the driving forces behind this newfound freedom is “the availability of subsidies to help pay the premiums associated with ObamaCare.” The LA Times is less specific, contending that “burden” of ObamaCare’s costs will be relieved.

In reality such subsidies and relieved burdens amount to nothing more than cost shifting. That means millions of Americans will indeed be bound to their jobs to pay for the subsidies and burdens of other Americans. Adding insult to injury, in Nancy Pelosi’s universe, much of those costs will apparently be borne by those less artistically inclined and/or creative.

Unfortunately, that’s only half the story. Because the aforementioned premium subsidies are reduced or disappear as workers reach certain levels of compensation, ObamaCare provides a massive disincentive to work more, or even work at all. “If those subsidies are phased out with rising income in order to limit their total costs, the phaseout effectively raises people’s marginal tax rates thus discouraging work,” the report states. The CBO report also addresses the possibility that ObamaCare subsidies might need higher levels of taxation to finance them, dealing another blow to the labor market. “If the subsidies are financed at least in part by higher taxes, those taxes will further discourage work or create other economic distortions, depending on how the taxes are designed.”

Thus, it should come as no surprise that CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf testified yesterday before Congress that ObamaCare “creates a disincentive for people to work,” in response to a question asked by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). No doubt in response to Democrat and White House criticism that Republicans were mischaracterizing the findings of the report, Ryan affirmed that the CBO did not say people would be laid off, only that more and more of them would choose not to work. Ryan then noted that a lower labor supply lowers economic growth. Elmendorf agreed, but insisted that premium subsidies would improve the lives of lower-income people, and that they would be ”better off” as a result.

The idea that people are “better off” due to increased dependency on government is the essence of progressivism. Gene Sperling, Obama’s top economic-policy adviser, inadvertently added fuel to that particular fire. “What this report said is a rather obvious point, which is that as people have greater access to healthcare, there is going to be some two-parent families where someone says I’m going to work a little less because we can get healthcare and I’m going spend time raising my children,” he contended. “There is going to be somebody out there who because they can afford healthcare has wanted to retire and may retire earlier. This is about giving Americans more choices.”

Wrong. This about giving some Americans more choices at the expense of other Americans who are being forced to underwrite their fellow Americans’ insurance subsidies. As the CBO report mentions, if such underwriting comes in the form of increased taxes, there will be two parent families forced to work a little more and see their children a little less. Some Americans will be forced to retire later, rather than sooner.

Two items in the report tilted in the Democrats favor. There was a “broad and persistent” slowdown in Medicare costs. And through 2024, the government will collect $8 billion more from the “risk corridor” provision — whereby insurers with healthier and more profitable risk pools subsidize those with sicker, less profitable ones — than it will be required to pay out.

Democrat claim a third statistic, that premium costs will be 15 percent cheaper than projected for 2014, works out in their favor as well. But the stat is misleading because insurance companies did many things to make their plans cheap, such as narrowing networks and selling policies with high deductibles. That may also be the case next year, when the risk corridors that remain in place until 2017 allow the insurance companies to once again low-ball their prices before there 2014 election. What happens to premiums when those risk corridors disappear is impossible to say, but more than likely, costs will soar without a government net below the insurer tightrope. If projections of those cost increases appear while our “make law up as I go along” president remains in power, bet on a unilateral extension of the risk corridor provision. One that will rapidly morph from a profit, to the taxpayer bailout Republicans envision.

The little bit of good news was more than offset by the reality that there will still be 31 million Americans uninsured in 2024, despite almost $2 trillion in new expenditures. The report also states that “between 6 million and 7 million fewer people will have employment-based insurance coverage each year from 2016 through 2024 than would be the case in the absence of the ACA.” But the most troubling statistic once again concerns government dependency. The federal government will be subsidizing five out of six million policies in 2014, and a whopping 19 million out of 24 million in 2024.

The Obama administration, Democrats and their media allies apparently believe such dependency is, as the New York Times puts it, “liberating.” Perhaps it is, as long as one ignores the reality that, more often than not, it is achieved by kicking one’s dignity, decency and ambition to the curb.

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  • cxt

    At some point–those folks having to carry the most of the tax burden will simply drop out. Either leave–as a some of the ultra-rich folk have been doing for some time now. Or they will simply stop producing/working so hard.
    When fewer and fewer people are working full time—where will the money come from to pay for all the programs that allow people NOT to have to work?

    • A Z

      Many people will keep working but hid much of their income through the underground economy. They will barter.

      And the dumb libtards will be scratching there heads wondering why their plans do not work.

  • T-Rex

    It appears to me the only thing the ACA has accomplished is a massive intrusion into the health care system by the Central Planners. Wasn’t this law supposed to insure the 30-40 million people who didn’t have health insurance? After all this, they are still saying 30 million will be uninsured. Nevertheless, the Central Planners now dictate what’s covered, how medicine is practiced, how much it costs, who pays for it and have hired thousands of new government workers to administer the law. If, in fact, the same number of people remain uninsured it appears to me the only ones who have gained anything are big-government, social engineering progressives.

    • NAHALKIDES

      Correct. But that was the plan all along – it never was about insuring the uninsured, that was simply to stir up moral fervor among useful idiots such as the typical urban progressive.

  • WhiteHunter

    Testing, one, two, three. Testing.

  • http://www.clarespark.com/ Clare Spark

    Nobody is addressing the character of “hard work.” Not in any part of the political spectrum, left to right. Yet something else to blog about.

  • Paul of Alexandria

    “‘…In turn, that will ‘boost demand for labor,’ especially in the near term, while the economy remains slack.”
    What always astounds me is that the people that say this don’t see any coupling between their actions and a “slack” economy. They assume that employers and employees are operating in a vacuum.

  • carpe diem 36

    when I say the eediots are running everything I did not think that I will be proven right so quickly and so obviously. when you look at only one side of an issue you do not see the whole picture of course. it is wonderful that people will not work and get “subsidized” insurance and have time to spend with the kids. you do not ask where is the subsidy coming from, who will pay for it, and if it is so good why not allow everybody not to work, we will be just as rich as when everybody works. what a system!! only a genius like BHO can come up with such a good thing, and of course he has all the useful eediots to support him.
    but for the rest of us we wonder about a few little things like the Gov’t revenue drop from lower taxes, like Social Security revenue dropping from lack of worker contributions, but of course when those retire they will expect a social security check every month; they are not worried about state and local budgets and pension plans. this is paradise!! why didn’t we think of this before Obama became president???

  • capjrcbluestate

    Didn’t they float this before when the unemployment rate would not go down no matter how much the amateur stamped his feet? I think his entourage called it “Funemployment” where the unemployed were encouraged to “Do their own thing”.

  • Donald J DaCosta

    Gotta hand it to the democrats. They can make horse manure smell like the fragrance of the G_ds and Chanel like a dead skunk.

  • Rock ThisTown

    I don’t have a job, so I can’t pay my rent, but I have health care. I can’t afford utilities, but I have health care. I can’t buy food with earned money, but I have food stamps & health care. I can’t afford a car or gas, but I have health care. But not to worry. . . I’m writing a best-selling book as we speak!

    • McWheels

      Not necessarily health CARE, but health INSURANCE….Ah, Idealism, Utopia vs. Reality. Such a conundrum!

  • NAHALKIDES

    “The Obama administration, Democrats and their media allies apparently believe such dependency is, as the New York Times puts it, ‘liberating.’ Perhaps it is, as long as one ignores the reality that, more often than not, it is achieved by kicking one’s dignity, decency and ambition to the curb.”

    It’s also achieved by by loss of one’s freedom, since you’ll do as Big Brother says or your subsidy could be cut off, and the loss of freedom of others, who will be mercilessly taxed to pay for all of this.

  • Fritz

    One item that is missing in this whole discussion is that while workers of a lower income may indeed end up with some for of subsidized health insurance has anyone asked what that insurance would actually cover? In Canada everyone supposedly is “covered” but coverage does not guarantee treatment, it guarantees you a cue on a waiting list for treatment. So on the same note what sort of treatment will these lower income and unemployed workers receive should they end up in hospital? They may have their fellow taxpayers picking up the tab on a good portion, if not all, of their health insurance, but if they get stuck having to pay an $8000 deductible from a hospital stay then it’s really delivering that worker a false sense of security.

    • Bryan

      That is the gist of liberalism. Pretend to do something good for people so you can maintain your power. So what if people will be unable to afford using their healthcare. Big picture – they ‘care’.

  • Bryan

    On the bright side, these liberal media sites, the white house, and the CBO implied socialism doesn’t work.
    After all; they said that giving people incentives to reduce their productivity (wages), will cause people to work less. As long as they get a government subsidy to make up for it. That is the capstone reason why Socialism doesn’t work. If working harder will not mean better income, people will not work harder but gravitate to the lowest amount of effort required.
    The question is: Why do they continue to promote Socialism?

    • SourPea

      Because they can’t extrapolate…nor do they study human nature or history. It takes effort to live and grow. Most dependency is an addiction to leisure instead of an addiction to work.

  • SourPea

    Unfortunately, President Obama is not going anywhere. Watch for a White House provoked “man-made disaster” sometime in October of 2016 so that martial law is imposed and we have a “dictator-for-life”.

  • Supplement

    You can’t make this kind garbage up. Let’s hope liberalism dies a sudden and painful death.

  • Christopher Riddle

    Next,they’ll tell you why “Choosing Not To Eat”is good for your waistline????????