Opinion: ACA impact on jobs becoming clear

February 15, 2014


— In the ongoing saga of the Affordable Care Act, oddly referred to by Democrats as the law of the land even as it is amended at will by presidential fiat, we are beginning to understand the extent of its war on jobs.

First, the Congressional Budget Office triples its estimate of the drop in the workforce resulting from the disincentive introduced by Obamacare’s insurance subsidies: 2 million by 2017, 2.3 million by 2021.

Democratic talking points gamely defend this as a good thing because these jobs are being given up voluntarily. Nancy Pelosi spoke lyrically about how Obamacare subsidies will allow people to leave unfulfilling jobs to pursue their passions: “Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance.”

Nothing so lyrical has been written about work since Marx (in “The German Ideology”) described a communist society that “makes it possible for me to ... hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner.”

Pelosi’s vision is equally idyllic except for one thing: The taxes of the American factory worker — grinding away dutifully at his repetitive mind-numbing job — will be subsidizing the voluntary unemployment of the artiste in search of his muse. A rather paradoxical position for the party that poses as tribune of the working man.

In the reductio ad absurdum of entitlement liberalism, Jay Carney was similarly enthusiastic about this Obamacare-induced job loss. Why, Obamacare creates the “opportunity” that “allows families in America to make a decision about how they will work, and if they will work.”

If they will work? Pre-Obama, people always had the right to quit work to tend full time to the study of butterflies. It’s a free country. The twist in the new liberal dispensation is that the butterfly guy is to be subsidized by the taxes of people who actually work.

In the traditional opportunity society, government provides the tools — education, training and various incentives — to achieve the dignity of work and its promise of self-improvement and social mobility. In the new opportunity society, you are given the opportunity for idleness while living parasitically off everyone else. Why those everyone elses should remain at their jobs — hey! I wanna dance, too! — is a puzzle Carney has yet to explain.

The honest liberal reply to the CBO report is that a disincentive to work is inherent in any means-tested government benefit. It’s the unavoidable price of helping those in need because for every new dollar you earn, you lose part of your subsidy and thus keep less and less of your nominal income.

That’s inevitable. And that’s why we have learned to tie welfare, for example, to a work requirement. Otherwise, beneficiaries could choose to live off the dole forever. That’s why the 1996 Gingrich-Clinton welfare reform succeeded in reducing welfare rolls by two-thirds. It is not surprising that the same Obama administration that has been weakening the work requirement for welfare is welcoming the disincentive to work inherent in Obamacare.

But Obamacare’s war on jobs goes beyond voluntary idleness. The administration is now conceding, inadvertently but unmistakably, Obamacare’s other effect — involuntary job loss. On Monday, the administration unilaterally postponed and weakened the employer mandate, already suspended through 2015, for yet another year.  

But doesn’t this undermine the whole idea of universal health coverage? Of course it does, but Obamacare was so structured that it is crushing small business and killing jobs. It creates a major incentive for small businesses to cut back to under 50 employees to avoid the mandate. Your business becomes a 49er by either firing workers or reducing their hours to below 30 a week. Because that doesn’t count as full time, you escape both the employer mandate to buy health insurance and the fine for not doing so.

With the weakest recovery since World War II, historically high chronic unemployment and a shockingly low workforce participation rate, the administration correctly fears the economic consequences of its own law — and of the political fallout for Democrats as millions more Americans lose their jobs or are involuntarily reduced to part-time status.

Conservatives have been warning about this for five years. This is not rocket science. Both the voluntary and forced job losses were utterly predictable. Pelosi insisted we would have to pass the law to know what’s in it. Now we know.

— Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.


Abdu Omar 3 years, 11 months ago

Reading this guy is like reading Cal Thomas I don't believe him a bit, sorry to say. Perhaps there are some facts there but his tone and soutyle belie that always. Hatred for someone shouldn't confuse the facts, and a jounalist, if that is what he is, should always tell the facts, not pontificate on his opinions.

John Graham 3 years, 11 months ago

He is an editorialist which by definition means his work is meant to include his opinion or perspective on the discussed topic. Funny how if you don't want any opinions expressed in the LJW you only pick out two conservative editorialists to complain about. You didn't complain about the liberal editorialists that are featured in the LJW.

By the way, the piece is labeled as "opinion" so that should have been a clue as to content.

John Graham 3 years, 11 months ago

Critiquing the factual basis of op-eds should have a basis in fact which you lack. So it would seem you are guilty of what you wrongly criticize others of doing, posting something that lacks a factual basis. Your liberal bias is showing as always.

Beator 3 years, 11 months ago

you ever ask your parents how they came up with your first name?

John Graham 3 years, 11 months ago

Glad Obama and his liberal backers including editorialists have always been accurate in the telling of the facts regarding Obamacare. Statements about keeping your current insurance plan if you want to, keeping your doctor if you want, everyone saving money for example have been proven untrue. But I am sure you can justify those inaccuracies put forth by Obama and his supporters including editorialists. So does Charles K spin ACA numbers to support his opinions? I am sure he does. But before you get too indignant, you should keep in mind all the lies Obama and his supporters have told about ACA facts.

John Graham 3 years, 11 months ago

So the president's lies that affected millions of people that were so blatant he had to apologize are less of a problem to you than what Charles K has to say. That says something about your point of view.

If you bother to actually pay attention, which you didn't, I never said I agreed with Charles K. I simply pointed out to the original poster (that complained about Charles and Cal putting their opinion in their writing was inappropriate) that editorialists are supposed to include their opinions and perspectives in their writing. I pointed out that he complained only about conservative editorialists. The liberal editorialists spin numbers and 'facts' to their favor just like the conservatives. You didn't bother to complain about any liberal editorialists playing fast and loose with numbers. They both do so be fair in your criticism.

John Graham 3 years, 11 months ago

So lay all blame for Iraq and Afghanistan solely on Bush even though we both know that is not correct but since that is what you want so be it. Then blame Vietnam solely on JFK and LBJ, Korea on Truman, WWII on FDR, and WWI on Woodrow Wilson, all democratic presidents during the start of those wars. I wonder if WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam caused more "damage and harm" to the world than what you blame on Iraq and Afghanistan. I think you lose that argument.

John Graham 3 years, 11 months ago

You prove my point quite well mropus. You don't particularly mind that Obama knowingly lied to the American public. You actually say you don't understand why he apologized. You essentially tell me and other wing nuts to get over the lies he told and move on. Yet you then point out lies Bush told, resulting in a war that caused global harm. I don't disagree with you completely on Bush. But it is clear you haven't got over any lies Bush told and you definitely have not moved on as you told me to. Since you are so worked up about Bush and his war I thought you ought to keep in mind the democratic presidents that were in office during the start of every major conflict the US has been in the past century and the damage done to the world those wars caused. You complain I went to extremes but I didn't do so any more than you did when you brought up the favorite liberal complaint of Bush and his war. You are upset because I beat you at your own game. Seem to be a rather sore loser.

John Graham 3 years, 11 months ago

Give up on making excuses for Obama's lies about ACA. Even Obama has admitted he didn't tell the truth about everyone getting to keep their insurance. It is rather sad you keep trying so hard to blame everyone else for his lies. In case you missed it, Obama's you can keep your insurance lie was deemed the biggest lie of 2013. So the cats out of the bag and you and your wing nut friends can quit making apologies and blaming others. Like you told me, time to get over it and move on.

John Graham 3 years, 11 months ago

I am so glad that in your world everything that is wrong in the world is solely the blame of conservatives. That liberals are not at fault for anything and never play with the facts to suit their desires. Sleep well in your fantasyland.

James Howlette 3 years, 11 months ago

What was it you were complaining about in this thread? Oh yeah, "You in this and other threads repeatedly attribute statements to me that I never made nor implied." Huh.

John Graham 3 years, 11 months ago

You started with the claim that I only complain about numbers that come from what I deem liberal sources. I made no such complaint in my post before you made that statement. So you either just made it up or you are referring to some different old post.

James Howlette 3 years, 11 months ago

I don't agree that I'm distorting your arguments, but that's neither here nor there. The point is that you are complaining about something that you're busy deliberately doing yourself in the very same thread.

John Graham 3 years, 11 months ago

Mropus wan, if you were criticizing the op-ed above and the author, why did you criticize Cal T? Cal T was not the author nor was he mentioned in the article. So if you can criticize someone not involved in the article why can't I criticize liberal editorialists that were neither the author nor mentioned?

James Howlette 3 years, 11 months ago

I find it ironic that he only accuses posters he deems liberal of showing bias and, as far as I can see, only complains about problems with numbers when they come from what he deems to be liberal sources. He concedes that neither side is bias free, yet sets a standard for fairness that he himself does not meet. Like I said, ironic accusations are ironic.

John Graham 3 years, 11 months ago

Apparently you missed the point where I said I believe Charles K puts his spin on ACA numbers he uses to support his opinions.

James Howlette 3 years, 11 months ago

"Apparently" I didn't miss that you conceded his numbers were off after coming onto this thread to scold someone for being a one-sided bias complainer. I did apparently miss the part where you've ever come into a thread for the immediate purpose of scolding a conservative for one-sided bias. Hence my comment that your standard for fairness was rather ironic.

John Graham 3 years, 11 months ago

I've never seen you scold a liberal. Seems you are guilty of what you complain about me.

James Howlette 3 years, 11 months ago

Well, there's the funny part. I've accused you of ironically not following your own standard for fairness. I never claimed it was my standard.

John Graham 3 years, 11 months ago

How nice, hold someone to a standard you don't follow.

James Howlette 3 years, 11 months ago

Exactly! It's so annoying when you do that.

John Graham 3 years, 11 months ago

Apparently you are too worried about trying to criticize me to pay attention to what I said before you complain. I never said I agreed with Charles K or Cal T. I pointed out in an above post that I believed Charles K spins his numbers, I also said I believe the liberals do as well which neither the original poster, nor mropus wan, nor you bothered to notice. So sorry to disappoint you but I have already said that both conservatives and liberals put their spin on the 'facts'. Sorry you don't care to be fair in your critique but I have come to expect that of you.

James Howlette 3 years, 11 months ago

I just love your aggressive multiple replies on a single comment and the scolding and aggressive tone "never bothered to notice" and "you don't care to be fair." It's almost as if I've hit a nerve.

John Graham 3 years, 11 months ago

You in this and other threads repeatedly attribute statements to me that I never made nor implied. When I complain you come back with something like "I've hit a nerve" or your comment that I am too emotional to have a discussion instead of addressing the fictitious statements you make about me. Above you state I complain about "numbers that come from what he deems to be liberal sources". I did not make any complaint in this thread about any numbers from any liberal sources. So you simply make up that statement and if I complain about your incorrect statement then you state you have hit a nerve. Yes I don't like people making up statements and attributing them to me.

James Howlette 3 years, 11 months ago

Let me see if I've got this straight. When it's about me or others, other threads are fair game and how you perceive the situation (true or not) indicates a pattern, but when it's about you, only the things you've said in this thread count. Good to know.

John Graham 3 years, 11 months ago

You were the one that mentioned my complaining about numbers from what I deem to be liberal sources. That had absolutely nothing to do with anything I said on this post so you either just made that up out of thin air or you think you found something in an older different post.

James Howlette 3 years, 11 months ago

I thought I was pretty clear that I was mentioning an ongoing pattern from multiple threads.

John Graham 3 years, 11 months ago

So was I when I talked about you making things up and attributing it to me.

James Howlette 3 years, 11 months ago

Yes, you were attempting to reference slights you think you were given in other threads and discussions and posts, but your accusation also made it clear that I couldn't be doing the same, "That had absolutely nothing to do with anything I said on this post..." Hence my pointing out your hypocrisy. It's all very clear if you follow the thread.

I see you're down to very silly and sad last words in the other threads in this discussion, so I don't think this attempt at getting you to gain some introspection has been very fruitful. All the pity.

John Graham 3 years, 11 months ago

James, I mentioned the liberal bias because the first poster and mropus both only complained about conservative editorialists which I inferred as a liberal bias. There were no posts of any kind from a conservative view point so it would make no sense for me to complain about someone's conservative bias when there were none present. I never complained about any numbers from a "liberal source". I mentioned I believe Charles K spins the numbers to support his opinions. So you are voicing complaints directed at me for statements I never made.

James Howlette 3 years, 11 months ago

Your commenting history extends beyond this thread, and other than posts removed for using personal insults, they're still visible for everyone to examine and use to form their own conclusions on whether or not you tend to repeatedly use the same tactic when criticizing posters you assume are liberal. A trip down memory lane might be good for you.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 11 months ago

There will not be a job drop in the workplace. This is how the right wing spins misinformation.

Actually the right wing has it backwards. This is good for job openings. As people retire INSTEAD of staying on forever for reasons of medical insurance ObamaCare is moving people out to make way for those who want to be employed. Win Win Win for the economy.

Not only that the health care industry is the fastest growing employer in the USA. What is wrong that?

Richard Heckler 3 years, 11 months ago

Now let's talk tax dollar subsidies for a bit. And let's take a look at how medicare dollars are spent which make it idiotic to kill medicare. Tax dollars already pay for at least $1.2 trillion in annual U.S. health care expenses which is good use of OUR tax dollars however 100% of citizens need this privilege.

Paying through the Taxman.

The U.S. health insurance system is typically characterized as a largely private-sector system, so it may come as a surprise that more than 60% of the $2 trillion annual U.S. health care bill is paid through taxes, according to a 2002 analysis published in Health Affairs by Harvard Medical School associate professors Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein.

Tax dollars pay for Medicare and Medicaid, for the Veterans Administration and the Indian Health Service. Tax dollars pay for health coverage for federal, state, and municipal government employees and their families, as well as for many employees of private companies working on government contracts.

Less visible but no less important, the tax deduction for employer-paid health insurance, along with other health care-related tax deductions, also represents a form of government spending on health care.

It makes little difference whether the government gives taxpayers (or their employers) a deduction for their health care spending, on the one hand, or collects their taxes then pays for their health care, either directly or via a voucher, on the other.

Moreover, tax dollars also pay for critical elements of the health care system apart from direct care—Medicare funds much of the expensive equipment hospitals use, for instance, along with all medical residencies.

All told, then, tax dollars already pay for at least $1.2 trillion in annual U.S. health care expenses. Not only that the health care industry is the fastest growing employer in the USA. What is wrong that?

More on this matter: http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2008/0508harrison.html

http://www.pnhp.org/facts/single-payer-resources Physicians for a National Health Program

http://www.healthcare-now.org/docs/spreport.pdf ( very interesting findings)

Bob Smith 3 years, 11 months ago

Deceased equines are being pummeled in these comments.

Mike Ford 3 years, 11 months ago

nice subject change to be expected.....not very smart though.

Chris Golledge 3 years, 11 months ago

The actual report describes workers in relation to number of hours per year worked, and this is somewhat different from the way Republicans are spinning it as jobs. For instance, while I think Pelosi's comment is a bit imaginative, part of the reduction in workers is the count of labor reduced by someone deciding they don't need that second, part-time job to cover all their expenses, including health care, because they can get the health benefits they need without it.


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