Thursday, February 6, 2014

Hey, you, in the white... you're ready to be a poet, right?


While we were out at sea, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office dropped this bombshell with respect to how the Affordable Care Act was going to effect the nation’s employment numbers.

From McKnight News Service:

The full-time work force will lose roughly 2 million people overall by 2024 as a result of the Affordable Care Act, according to new figures from the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO report, released Tuesday, came one week after an expert told lawmakers that nursing home staff are among those most likely to have their hours reduced due to the ACA.

The employer mandate places a total of 2.6 million workers at risk of reduced hours, according toChen's written Congressional testimony. This number is similar to the CBO's projection that the full-time workforce will lose 2.5 million workers. However, the budget office said this erosion will mostly be due to expanded insurance options, not the employer mandate.

For example, the availability of government-subsidized, low-cost health plans available through the online marketplaces might lead some workers to work less, the CBO stated. This is because the premium subsidies decrease as the beneficiary's income increases.

While there are “anecdotal reports” of employers limiting workers' hours, there is “no compelling evidence” that the ACA has caused an increase in part-time employment, according to the report. Still, critics of the employer mandate — and the ACA generally — seized on the CBO figures to support their arguments. The report doubled the CBO's 2010 estimate of how much the health law will reduce labor use. The new numbers are from new research and more in-depth analysis, according to the budget office.

The White House and their allies immediately went into spin mode touting how all this actually liberated workers from “job-lock” and how people who normally would not leave their job for fear of losing their employer-based health insurance.

Now, we suppose it’s terrific that people are able to pursue their dreams as an artist, a photographer or graphic designer but please also bear in mind that you will be subsidizing this job transition and most perniciously, from the italicized sentence above, we are now told it’s a good thing that your tax dollars will be going to subsidize economic inactivity.

And for an economy that possesses the lowest labor participation rate in 40 years, the term “job-lock” is a particularly curious term. The term job-lock, in our thinking, would apply to better economic times when a job or career change would entail less risk… that risk, of course, being all your own. As it stands, currently, however, there are 10 of millions of Americans who wish they had this job-lock problem the administration and its water-carriers claim to be combating.

To Twitter:

Seriously. Can't have it both ways, so what's it going to be, guys?

Those last couple of tweets reminded us of the mentality behind the rationalizations of this devastating CBO report. In the linked article, they talk specifically of how hard this will hit the nursing home work force where 7.5% will see their hours reduced.

These folks aren’t the 50-something suburbanite with equity in his home and a nice 401(k) nest-egg where a career change would be viewed as a liberating aspect as he glides into retirement with both kids now out of the house and on their own. This is the Harvard faculty lounge worldview of this situation which pervades the White House. This, however, is not reality.

This will impact, most forcefully, the working class like the nursing home workforce with a still-limited skill set and not yet much in the way of upward mobility. Living paycheck to paycheck and supporting families, they can ill-afford to be "liberated" from job-lock. The Harvard faculty lounge doesn’t want to be bothered with their well-being no matter how many of them are tending to the lounge’s yards, pools and children.


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