“The Congressional Budget Office issued a politically explosive report this week, finding that Obamacare will reduce the number of hours Americans work by the equivalent of 2.5 million full-time jobs. This is different than killing 2.5 million jobs, Obamacare defenders are quick to insist. This will be a shortfall on the demand, not supply, side. In other words, people with health insurance will opt not to work in certain circumstances if they know they won’t lose their coverage.
“Democrats insist this is a boon. Indeed, many are talking about it as an act of liberation (which reminds me of an 11-year-old headline from The Onion: ‘IBM Emancipates 8,000 Wage Slaves’).
“House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says the CBO report vindicates Obamacare, because ‘this was one of the goals. To give people life, a healthy life, liberty to pursue their happiness. And that liberty is to not be job-locked, but to follow their passion.’ Pelosi is particularly invested in this view. She’s been mocked for years now for her repeated claims that Obamacare is an entrepreneurial bill because it would let Americans quit their jobs to, among other things, ‘write poetry.’
“I know I’m not alone in thinking that it was totally worth seizing a seventh of the U.S. economy, polarizing Washington, throwing millions of Americans’ lives into turmoil, and forcing millions of others to pay more in premiums and deductibles, while spending $1.2 trillion just so we could liberate the Job-Locked Poets! (Whoever seizes that as the name of your new band: You’re welcome.)” —Jonah Goldberg, Free the Job-Locked Poets!
“We live an an era when the president and his defenders say that welfare benefits do inspire people to stop looking for work… and it’s a good thing. That’s a huge concession for a liberal to make; it may turn out to be fatal to the cause of nanny-state liberalism. All the Obama drones running around and repeating yesterday’s talking points don’t realize they’re conceding a crucial argument to the Right, one that has been raging ever since the dawn of the Great Society.
“Backed by mountains of empirical data, critics of the welfare state have argued that labor has an important supply factor that can be suppressed by lavish government benefits – there are people who will choose not to work, if unemployment is made comfortable for them. The Left has always resisted this case with every drop of energy it could muster, sweeping the data side to insist that unemployment is entirely a problem of demand. …
“Well, congratulations, liberals. Barack Obama just threw that argument in the garbage bin of history, and you’re helping him do it by repeating his dopey talking points, all because you’re desperate to protect a failed health-care scheme the American people hate.” —John Hayward, Freedom’s Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Do
“No doubt in response to Democrat and White House criticism that Republicans were mischaracterizing the findings of the report, [House Budget Committee Chairman Paul] 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. [CBO Director Douglas] 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. …
“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.” —Arnold Ahlert, Obamacare: “Liberating” the Workers
“Responding to a CBO report that suggested [Obamacare] would encourage more than 2 million people either to seek less work or to leave the labor market completely, progressives picked up their tricornered hats and their muskets, and started to shout incoherently about ‘freedom.’ In a lovely illustration of the truism that progressives really haven’t the slightest clue what it is that conservatives believe, the Huffington Post’s Senior Congressional Reporter, Michael McAuliff, spoke for the cabal, suggesting ludicrously that ‘There’s an irony in the GOP complaining that ACA lets people quit jobs. I mean, what’s wrong with freedom?’
“To answer a remarkably misguided rhetorical question, there is nothing at all ‘wrong with freedom.’ As Patrick Henry rightly argued, above all other things ‘liberty ought to be the direct end’ of government, for, after that, everything else is mere indulgence. But there is an awful lot ‘wrong’ with using the word ‘freedom’ where it does not apply. After all, it is one thing for a person to choose not to work and to accept the natural consequences of that decision, but quite another indeed for a person to choose not to work because others are being forced to subsidize his well-being. One can reasonably attest that redistributing wealth to underwrite preferred social outcomes is ‘necessary’ or ‘virtuous’ or ‘kind’ or ‘practical’ — or even, more cynically, that it is the inexorable end product of a democratic system in which one man can vote himself the contents of another’s wallet. But one cannot claim that it makes either man ‘free’ — at least not without twisting the word and the concept that it represents beyond all meaningful recognition. …
“Brazen double standards and the corruption of the English language to one side, the important question now is whether the change will be a good one. Unsurprisingly, I am of the view that it will not. On the contrary: Work is a virtue that should be reflexively encouraged. It is the means by which standards of living are grown, human potential is reached, individual lives are focused, positive and negative instincts are channeled, resources are utilized most efficiently, and, above all, by which dignity remains intact. It is the best antidote to personal and national ossification and sclerosis, and the primary means by which our present material comfort was achieved. …Whatever the ideal role of government in contriving work or wages for those who are without them, we should all presumably be able to agree that if we are going to have an intrusive state, it should be doing precisely the opposite of encouraging people to limit their involvement in work.” —Charles C. W. Cooke, Obamacare’s Attack on the Work Ethic
“Section 1342 of the Affordable Care Act forces taxpayers to make insurers whole for most of the losses incurred selling Obamacare exchange plans through 2016. The bailout is designed to conceal the failure of the president’s signature health law until he is out of office.
“No one in the Obama administration talked up the advantages of bailing out insurers. It was kept under wraps until the fall of 2013. That’s when five to six million health plans were canceled because they didn’t comply with Obamacare’s one-size-fits-all-coverage requirements effective January 1, 2014. Insurers developed new plans, as the health law required, set premiums (generally higher) and sent out notices canceling the old plans.
“That caused public outrage. Trying to quell it, the president ignored his own law and told insurance companies on November 14 they could keep selling the old plans. Insurers were caught off guard. They predicted there would be less demand for their new plans, and they’d lose money.
“Here’s where the plot thickens. On the same day, an Obama administration health official, Gary Cohen, announced that the federal government (taxpayers) will offset most losses, citing section 1342. Sweetening what the law already guarantees, he pledged to ‘modify’ the bailout’s ‘final rules to provide additional assistance.’
“That’s when Congress finally did its job and read section 1342. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) called it a ‘dirty little secret’ and offered legislation to repeal it. House Republicans held a hearing at which Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius confessed that the administration had never tried to estimate what the guarantee could cost taxpayers. Ah, how freely government bureaucrats spend other people’s money. …
“Section 1342’s purpose is to bamboozle the public and hide Obamacare’s inevitable failure until health ‘reform’ is entrenched beyond turning back.” —Betsy McCaughey, Taxpayers Get Fleeced to Make Obamacare Look Affordable
“Tens of thousands of people who discovered that HealthCare.gov made mistakes as they were signing up for a health plan are confronting a new roadblock: The government cannot yet fix the errors.
“Roughly 22,000 Americans have filed appeals with the government to try to get mistakes corrected, according to internal government data obtained by The Washington Post. They contend that the computer system for the new federal online marketplace charged them too much for health insurance, steered them into the wrong insurance program or denied them coverage entirely.
“For now, the appeals are sitting, untouched, inside a government computer. And an unknown number of consumers who are trying to get help through less formal means — by calling the health-care marketplace directly — are told that HealthCare.gov’s computer system is not yet allowing federal workers to go into enrollment records and change them, according to individuals inside and outside the government who are familiar with the situation. …
“The Obama administration has not made public the fact that the appeals system for the online marketplace is not working. In recent weeks, legal advocates have been pressing administration officials, pointing out that rules for the online marketplace, created by the 2010 Affordable Care Act, guarantee due-process rights to timely hearings for Americans who think they have been improperly denied insurance or subsidies.
“But at the moment, ‘there is no indication that infrastructure . . . necessary for conducting informal reviews and fair hearings has even been created, let alone become operational,’ attorneys at the National Health Law Program said in a late-December letter to leaders of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency that oversees HealthCare.gov. …
“It is unclear when the appeals process will become available. So far, it is not among the top priorities for completing parts of the federal insurance exchange’s computer system that still do not work. Those include an electronic payment system for insurers, the computerized exchange of enrollment information with state Medicaid programs, and the ability to adjust people’s coverage to accommodate new babies and other major changes in life circumstance.
“The exchange is supposed to allow consumers who want to file appeals to do so by computer, phone or mail. But only mail is available. The roughly 22,000 people who have appealed to date have filled out a seven-page form and mailed it to a federal contractor’s office in Kentucky, where the forms are scanned and then transferred to a computer system at CMS. For now, that is where the process stops. The part of the computer system that would allow agency workers to read and handle appeals has not been built, according to individuals familiar with the situation.” —Amy Goldstein, HealthCare.gov Can’t Handle Appeals of Enrollment Errors
“ObamaCare’s key selling point was that it would give coverage to a significant number of the 30-plus million Americans who lack it. Now the CBO is telling the American people that a decade from now, six million-plus of their countrymen won’t get health care through their employers who otherwise would have.
“Even more damaging is this projection: ‘About 31 million non-elderly residents of the United States are likely to be without health insurance in 2024, roughly one out of every nine such residents.’
“Why? Because, in selling the bill to the American people in a nationally televised September 2009 address, President Obama said the need for ObamaCare was urgent precisely because ‘there are now more than 30 million American citizens who cannot get coverage.’ Now the CBO is saying that in 10 years about the same number of people will lack insurance as before. This, after new expenditures of as much as $2 trillion and a colossal disruption of the US medical system.” —John Podhoretz, Congressional Budget Office Sends Death Blow to ObamaCare
“In 2024, spending on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the Obamacare health insurance exchange subsidies will absorb two-thirds of the $4.9 trillion in revenue the CBO expects the federal government to collect. Add in the rest of mandatory spending and interest payments on the debt, and 96 percent of tax revenues will already be spoken for before Congress allocates money to pay for defense, veteran’s benefits, education, transportation, the court system, international affairs and other budget items.
“After 2024, the CBO warned, ‘the fiscal outlook is even more worrisome.’
“In short, the CBO is portraying a future in which a smaller proportion of workers in a relatively weaker economy will be expected to subsidize an increasing number of government beneficiaries. And Obamacare is making matters even worse.
“With one hand, according to the CBO, Obamacare will spend $2 trillion over the next decade on expanding Medicaid and subsidizing individuals to purchase health insurance. With the other hand, its subsidies will discourage the economic equivalent of 2.5 million individuals from working.
“The rational response to the CBO report would be to look for policies that encourage workforce participation and decrease government obligations. Instead, Obamacare does the exact opposite.” —Philip Klein, By Discouraging Work, Obamacare Is Making U.S. Fiscal Problems Worse
“To return to the desperate Democrats and their dopey ‘job lock’ talking point, if we really wanted to dissolve the frankly irrational link between employment and health insurance – another problem Big Government created, then presented itself as the solution to, half a century later – we could have done it without the rest of the garbage in Barack Obama’s train-wreck scheme. Changing the system so that every individual owns their insurance is a feature of all the Republican proposals this deeply dishonest President keeps pretending he’s never heard of. Allowing people to shop in truly competitive national markets for insurance would be the opposite of ObamaCare’s grim top-down socialist debacle, which is going to siphon an unholy fortune in overhead and compliance costs from the private sector. It wouldn’t be necessary to hold anyone at gunpoint to solve the ‘doc shock’ problem under such reforms. Let’s junk ObamaCare and give it a try.” —John Hayward, “Doc Shock” Spreads, as ObamaCare Commissars Try to Legislate It Away
For further enlightenment:
The Obamacare Security Nightmare: It Gets Worse, by Michelle Malkin
Unemployment Is Freedom Under Obamacare, by David Harsanyi
The ACA’s Four-Word Waterloo? by George Will
Nancy Pelosi Promised Obamacare Would Create Four Million Jobs, by Bryan Preston
Obama’s Hobbyhorse: Gender Equality, by Betsy McCaughey
Obamacare Will Reduce Incomes of Most Americans, by Byron York
A Simple Alternative to the Obamacare Mandate, by John C. Goodman
Pelosi: Obamacare Incompetence “Not My Responsibility”, by Ed Morrissey
Labor Unions Utterly Betrayed by Obamacare, by Moe Lane