By Grace-Marie Turner
While the White House is trying desperately to put a happy face on the devastating CBO report, the president will find many Democrats are frowning when he meets with them behind closed doors at their congressional retreat this week. Nervous members are sure to demand a stop to the never-ending cascade of bad news about ObamaCare if they are to have any hope of holding their seats in the 2014 elections.
The CBO says that the lure of ObamaCare subsidies will discourage enough people from working such that the economy will see a loss of 2.3 million “full-time-equivalent workers” by 2021, compared to CBO’s previous estimate of 800,000. And the CBO predicts that 2.5 million equivalent workers will be lost by 2024.
The health law creates massive incentives for Americans, particularly those at the lower end of the income scale, to opt out of the workforce or to adjust their hours to qualify for big subsidies.
CBO director Douglas Elmendorf in congressional testimony on Wednesday acknowledged, under questioning from House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that “The act creates a disincentive for people to work.”
This cuts through the White House’s attempt to say that Republicans are mischaracterizing the CBO findings. Elmendorf clearly acknowledged that fewer people will work because of the law’s subsidies.
A family of four with an income just above the poverty line at $35,000 a year can qualify for annualhealth insurance subsidies of nearly $8,300. If the family’s income were to rise to $50,000, the subsidy would be cut to $4,925.
What this means is that people will find that earning more money can cost them thousands of dollars in in-kind benefits and, for many, working more will not be worth the costs of the added payroll taxes and work-related transportation and child-care expenses. Other public programs, such as Food Stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit, compound the disincentives to work.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney argued that the subsidies allow people to “pursue their dreams” without the terrible burden of working at jobs they may despise and that “…individuals will be empowered to make choices about their own lives and livelihoods, like retiring on time rather than working into their elderly years…”
But in what alternative liberal universe can we pay people not to work and expect the economy to thrive? Carney’s argument means that other people who still ARE working will be paying the bills so these newly “empowered” individuals will be able to enjoy free or nearly-free health insurance. And second, what was this about “working into their elderly years”? Carney needs to be reminded that Medicare already provides health coverage for the elderly.
Further, the CBO report didn’t even account for the loss of jobs associated with the employer mandate. It said, “The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply.” Millions more people will face lost hours and lost jobs as employers struggle to juggle the ObamaCare fines after the (delayed) employer mandate triggers in 2015.
The White House and the liberal media are doing their best to find the pony in this CBO report. But the American people are going to ridicule their argument that Pajama Boy and others like him will be better off at the expense of the rest of us.
Other analyses show that when the CBO talks about the loss of 2.5 million “full-time equivalent jobs,” that means there could be several times that number of workers who will cut back on their hours – and their incomes – in order to qualify for generous health insurance subsidies. So many millions more could be affected and put in the position of making a very difficult choice to forgo income in order to get ObamaCare subsidies, a move that could stall their careers and their chances for advancement.
The Obama years are a blight on free-enterprise, and we are at risk that young workers and older workers, particularly those with less education and fewer skills, who will simply give up and never experience the joy of a rewarding job that reinforces a person’s value with good pay.
The human tragedy of ObamaCare is enormous.
The faltering economy is making it incredibly difficult for young people to find a job to get started in their careers. The threat of ObamaCare costs are causing many employers to shed employees and hours, costing millions of people income and a chance to advance.
Shoes will continue to drop on this centipede of a law until it is repealed.
There are a number of good articles that shed important light on what’s happening. A few you won’t want to miss:
Byron York, Washington Examiner: “Obamacare will reduce incomes of most Americans
Ryan Ellis, Americans for Tax Reform: How Many Jobs Might Obamacare Cost Your State?
Chris Cillizza, The Washington Post: The Worst Headline for Democrats This Year
And this article by reporter Chad Terhune for theLos Angeles Times: Obamacare enrollees hit snags at doctor’s offices. A quote from the article from Danielle Nelson, a cancer patient desperately trying to find an oncologist in her Covered California plan shows the personal tragedy of the law: “I’m a complete fan of the Affordable Care Act, but now I can’t sleep at night,” Nelson said. “I can’t imagine this is how President Obama wanted it to happen.”
Posted on Forbes, Febraury 6, 2014