What Fresh Hell Is This?

February 14, 2011

From Sunday's Tribune-Review

Sorry for the lateness of this - I have been fighting a killer of a cold.

We all know how the Trib's editorial board routinely refrains from logic, from reality but some days (and yesterday was a good example) they just pop the cork on a new layer of inexact-itude.

Take a look:
The Congressional Budget Office confirms what Democrats were trying to fob off on Republicans as "reckless partisan rhetoric": ObamaCare is a jobs killer. How many? Try 800,000. Higher costs, fewer jobs, more government control. Yet again, class, it's a tutorial in what "progressivism" is all about.
Except that when you look at what CBO director Douglas Elmendorf actually said, you find that the Trib has it completely totally ass-backwards wrong.

And had they read the Wall Street Journal, they'd know that:
Speaking Thursday before the House Budget Committee, the Congressional Budget Office director estimated that ObamaCare will cause the labor force to shrink by about half a percentage point by the end of the next decade. That isn't the same as claiming that there will be 800,000 fewer jobs available, but rather, as Mr. Elmendorf said, that the law will reduce "the propensity to work." As with any other government subsidy, people receiving "free" health care won't have as much incentive to search for a job or work full time. [emphasis added]
Let's explain further. Better yet, here's the CBO itself, doing something the braintrust doesn't seem to want to do - give you clear information:
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act(Public Law 111-148) and the Health Care Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-152) will affect some individuals’ decisions about whether and how much to work and employers’ decisions about hiring workers.1 The Congressional Budget Office(CBO) estimates that the legislation, on net, will reduce the amount of labor used in the economy by a small amount—roughly half a percent—primarily by reducing the amount of labor that workers choose to supply.
And then:
The expansion of Medicaid and the availability of subsidies through the exchanges will effectively increase beneficiaries’ financial resources. Those additional resources will encourage some people to work fewer hours or to withdraw from the labor market.
So it's not about the jobs, but about workers. With Health Care Reform implemented fewer people would have to work that second job or do overtime just to pay for their health care. Or if they know their health insurance is solid, they might be able to retire sooner and not have to wait for Medicare to kick in. The supply of labor would be reduced - but not the number of jobs.

A huge difference the Trib blurred into a lie.

Now go back and look at what the Trib fobbed off as true. What they wrote is completely wrong and it only shows (yet again) that the braintrust must think its readership is a bunch of idiots who'll believe whatever partisan drivel plops on their doorstep every morning.


Felix Dzerzhinsky said...

This serves as an illustration for why we do not have a rational health care system in this country. It goes counter to what you might expect at first, because the immediate economic interests of most businesses would actually be better-served by a single-payer system along Canadian lines, or even a British-style National Health Service. The overall amount of money that people and businesses pay in taxes would be less than what we already pay in taxes, premiums, co-pays, etc., right now; this is because you would eliminate so much waste in the system (multiple, piecemeal billing and payment systems, advertising, profits for insurance company shareholders and inflated salaries for insurance executives, etc.).

Granted, the insurance companies would take a huge hit, as would some of the more bloated provider networks, but overall it would be good for capitalist profits.

So you would think that most capitalists would support thorough-going health care reform. But the problem is that loss of control. If you're hiring labor, you want people to be economically insecure so as to maximize their dependence on the employer, thereby to ensure that they will take jobs at less pay. Holding the loss of health insurance over someone's head is a great tool for disciplining labor. So most of capital opposes thorough-going reform, and also acted to keep last year's reform from being "too" generous to the working class.

They oppose extended unemployment benefits for the same reason. They want more incentives for people to work for them for less pay. When they talk about "creating jobs," those are the kinds of jobs they're talking about: lower-wage, fewer benefits, no pension. People who blame environmental regulations or unions for destroying jobs are, in the final analysis, operating from the kind of logic that would force us all to accept the kinds of conditions that workers have in places like Indonesia. Hey, it's a job!

There is also the ideological angle. Good government programs that benefit the working-class majority set a "bad" example for the rest of the economy. If government covered health care for everyone, doing a much better job than the private health insurance industry (as it does in every other rich country), then that would set a bad example, because people would start demanding more of corporations in other sectors of the economy.

EdHeath said...

I would suggest that there will be more than one effect on the labor market. Removing the ability of health insurance companies to exclude people with pre-existing conditions and removing lifetime maximums will mean that people who might have been unable to get insurance or who might have lost their insurance when they got sick will now have insurance, and potentially be able to return to work after medical treatment.

I have to say that the highest unemployment rates are among people who do not make that much money when they are working (people of color, people who do not have high schools degrees). The fact that percentage-wise these are the largest number of people looking for work makes me question the CBO's conclusion. It seems to rest on that "common sense" notion that people on welfare choose not to work, or in other words are lazy. Until you have walked a mile or even a foot in their shoes, though, I don't want to hear it. And for the record, I faced a reduced income and living on one salary and unemployment benefits a few years back. I was never so motivated to look for a job.

Ol' Froth said...

If we reduce the supply of labor, then the cost of labor might go up, and we can't have THAT!