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Wednesday, February 05, 2014

The Obamacare thing

No, we won't lose 2.3 million jobs.
The CBO projects that the act will reduce the supply of labor, not the availability of jobs. There's a big difference. In fact, it suggests that aggregate demand for labor (that is, the number of jobs) will increase, not decrease; but that many workers or would-be workers will be prompted by the ACA to leave the labor force, many of them voluntarily.

As economist Dean Baker points out, this is, in fact, a beneficial effect of the law, and a sign that it will achieve an important goal. It helps "older workers with serious health conditions who are working now because this is the only way to get health insurance. And (one for the family-values crowd) many young mothers who return to work earlier than they would like because they need health insurance. This is a huge plus."
That said, some non-fulltime workers will indeed have hours cut -- non-voluntarily. I know one person to whom that is happening. Yes, that pisses me off. Yes, I wish we had gone another way. But 13 million more people will have health insurance, and that's important.

By the way: If there's any truth to this whole notion of "supply and demand," then shouldn't reducing the supply of labor lead to higher wages? Just asking.
I just read a story from National Review (sneer) which I found through a link at Drudge (double sneer) about an incident on Friday in which Obama went to a Google hangout and was confronted by a black fry cook named Darnell Summers. Darnell complained that because of Obamacare his $7.25 an hour job has been reduced to part time, and now he is unable to live on what he earns. The president responded by stating that he is urging states to raise their minimum wages to help people like Darnell. He didn't bother mentioning the effects of Obamacare.
What are people like Darnell supposed to do while they are waiting for their state to raise the minimum wage? How the hell are you supposed to live when your takehome pay is less than $200 a week? What if Darnell's state legislature never gets around to implementing a raise in the minimum wage before he starves to death while preparing food for others? The bottom 20% of the people left in this country who still have jobs are being ground into paste and no one in D.C. gives a damn because it doesn't affect any of them or any of their friends, all of whom are already disgustingly rich anyway. Maybe it's time for the Obamas to take another vacation.
If overall compensation falls by one percent, and this is less than the fall in total hours worked, then you have math skillz if you suspect that compensation per hour will increase.
Joe said:

"Yes, I wish we had gone another way. But 13 million more people will have health insurance, and that's important."

I agree. It is important. When you read some of these reports from Navigators signing people up, the stories are god-awful from Americans--as many rural as urban--who have never had healthcare coverage in their lives, have a gazillion conditions that have been treated with 'home remedies.' It's appalling and knocks the old Republican mantra that the US has the best healthcare system in the world on its ass. We cannot go back to what we had because cost alone was eating the country alive. Not to mention the immorality of limiting or denying treatment to the sick and the poor.

That being said Obamacare has genuine problems. Way too many fingers in the pie at the start and major duty obstructionism and fear-mongering at every turn. It remains to be seen how the program shakes out, if it does provide what it promised while reducing costs. Otherwise as I posted before, the promise will be a bitter pill.

Of course, the sad irony here is we have a working platform in Medicare. I have an older family member now receiving cancer therapy. The oncologist at one of Philly's premier teaching hospitals told him his Medicare coverage is the best thing out there.

But we had to reinvent the wheel.

I hope in the long-term Obamacare works. But in the short-term we're going to have a mess of conflicting reports and stats, I'm afraid.

As to the CBO report? The Democratic party needs to refute outright lies, intentional confusions. The GOP loves high-fiving itself. The ongoing reports should throw cold water on the premature glee.


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