On ObamaCare and its effects on full-time employment
As has been the case for some time now, progressive journalists, citing a number of conservative economists, continue to make the case that the creation of mostly part-time jobs under the Obama Administration has no tie to ObamaCare. Of course, this is not an actual answer to the concerns being raised by those of us who understand arithmetic: whether or not something that we are repeatedly told is not yet fully implemented can be shown to have had a retroactive affect on the creation of part-times jobs is not the question. Rather the question is, will ObamaCare, at that magical, untold date when we’ll be told it is finally implemented (though we know that day will never come, as there are always “things we can do better,” which will require ever more funding and ever more tinkering and delay, until Utopia finally arrives, unvarnished, aglow in the glory of the State’s triumph over mathematics) likely exacerbate what already is an extant problem, or will it create some sort of steadying effect — or even countering effect — to what we’ve already seen happening thanks to other parts of the Obama policy agenda, and the very threat of future policies, including the implementation of ObamaCare?
I tried this morning on Twitter to have this question answered, having gone back and forth repeatedly with Greg Sargent at WaPo and Ryan Cooper of the Washington Monthly. Cooper’s argument, citing Business Insider’s Josh Barro, is that ObamaCare doesn’t really affect macroeconomics. You can read Barro’s full piece here, but I’ll give you the gist:
If anything, the biggest problem with the ACA is that too many people are getting to keep their existing health plans. Our system of employer-based coverage distorts both the health care and labor markets, which is why health policy wonks left, right and center tend to want to move away from it.
Taxpayer subsidies for gold-plated employer plans, Barro notes, shifts responsibility for up to one-third of coverage to the taxpayer. Which is a legitimate criticism of what many of us saw as a broken system. But the fight has never been about whether the system was broken. The fight has been about the correct way to go about fixing it. Clearly, conservatives have — and still do — promote a competitive model, and also one that decouples insurance from employment. But it’s hard to see how a 75% subsidy for Congress and its aides speaks to any kind of attempt to do anything other than exist with the left’s chosen route, which is — they’ve admitted — to eventually move us to a single payer system. So while Cooper cites Barro to promote such a decoupling, he does so with the endgame being single payer care, not privatized health care available by way of a truly open market. As Barro also notes in his piece:
The ACA twists itself in knots in its attempts to get employers to continue to offer insurance coverage, including by imposing an employer mandate that will discourage job creation; letting the employer-based market wither away would have been better policy, even though it would have led to more people having to change plans.
But this is something that has long been part of the Republican alternative Jeb Bush pretends we haven’t offered — albeit with the goal that we take power away from government and move it toward the private sector — whereas the statist goal is to gain the control we wish them to relinquish.
After some pushing on my part, Cooper was forced to admit, reluctantly and almost as an aside, that yes, it is likely that “on the margins” employers will be incentivized to drop group coverage for employees and move them to state exchanges, or else move them to part-time status in order to avoid responsibility for paying health insurance costs demanded by the government, who has dictated the terms of the policies, and as such has created a fixed and phony marketplace directly limited by law.
So the question is, how many additional people — “on the margins” — will be forced into exchanges or lose their employee health care as a result of ObamaCare’s eventual implementation?
As Sargent quips, “Oh, wait, so you’re making a *prediction*, i.e., your claimed outcome hasn’t yet happened, right?” Well of course my claimed outcome hasn’t happened yet. But that’s only because right now, barely anyone can sign up for the thing, many doctors are refusing to participate, the public is beginning to see that in most instances they will pay more, once deductibles are figured in — and we’re being told all that will be fixed and people will love their “cheap and affordable health care” (which isn’t; it’s health insurance, which means dick all if very few or substandard doctors are the only ones who participate in the scheme) once it is fixed, sometime in the indeterminate future.
As I asked on Twitter, what is a fair date we can use to determine empirically if we — over 60% of the public — were wrong about not wanting what the President promises us is going to be such a wonderful “product”? That is, when is the deference we’re supposed to show this abomination reasonably permitted to lapse, and a determination about what it has done and is doing to health care and private health insurance, as well as employment, reasonably permitted to be made, empirically and without the veneer of Utopian promises?
The truth is, the idea that people will receive cheaper insurance and the same quality and timeliness of care — just because that’s what the government has mandated — is magical thinking of the highest order. Likewise, the “prediction” that businesses won’t be incentivized to push employees onto these exchanges where the magical thinking will be made manifest in substandard care, longer wait times, fewer hospitals and hospital beds, fewer nurses, etc., is a prediction that is based in the non-subjective realm of real-world arithmetic and accounting.
In the end, the argument being offered by progressives is that it’s dishonest to tie part-time job creation as the preeminent form of job creation to a program that hasn’t yet been implemented. And yet they have no problem ignoring that part-time job creation as the preeminent form of job creation has been a feature of this Administrations policies — just as they have no problem largely ignoring the very simple and logical premise that, by instituting a health insurance plan that must of necessity either drive up prices or drive down levels of care, as well as force businesses to either pay far higher premiums or drop employees, or at least move them to part time positions, the problem of part-time employment for those who are desperately seeking full-time employment, is OF COURSE likely to get worse. But “only on the margins.” Because as Cooper reminds us, OCare is just one minor way in which job creation is being impacted. So, thank heavens for small victories, right?
There are predictions based on pure conjecture and then there are predictions based on rather obvious calculations and premises. They are also coupled to the fact that 8 million people have left the workforce under Obama and are unaccounted for when it comes to employment statistics.
The gotcha answer that ObamaCare has not yet caused a significant increase in part-time vs full-time employment — despite the fact that it is natural that the promise of ObamaCare is already influencing decisions by businesses — is a dodge: and all it takes is open eyes, common sense, and a break from ideological insistence that you can map your desires onto the world without the world resisting at points that don’t bend to ideology, is both absurd and dangerous. Not to mention entirely delusional.