by Bruce Tanis
This week, the most shocking news report came from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which projected that, due to the fully-realized consequences of Obamacare by the year 2021 — in 7 years — more than 2 million full-time American workers will find it more advantageous to quit work entirely or switch to part-time jobs in order to get more subsidies for health insurance rather than to pay the dramatically higher premiums created by Obamacare. It should be noted that the Congressional Budget Office is a strictly nonpartisan agency that conducts objective, impartial analysis of budget issues for Congress. All CBO employees are appointed solely on the basis of professional competence, without regard to political affiliation.
Our government, run and dominated by Democrats, now subsidizes people not to work while forcing others to work more to pay the increased taxes to pay the subsidies. This is not only ridiculous, it is unsustainable and dangerous to the long-term viability of our entire system — it creates a moral hazard for us all. It is the economic equivalent of feeding a cow her own milk and expecting milk production to thereby increase.
Anyone who studied or understands economics or human nature understands that if you tax something, you get less of it, and if you subsidize something, you’ll get more of it. Now, under the Democrats we are taxing producers and subsidizing non-producing parasites. What can we expect will happen under the rules of economics, except to wind up with fewer producers and more parasites?
Remember that these same Democrats who are dictating policy from our White House via Executive Orders and passing legislation and blocking the filibuster by their opponents in our Congress are the very same folks who tried not long ago to convince the nation that our young, healthy workers would willingly cough up a lot more for their health insurance simply to subsidize older, sicker Americans. I can hear the grandiose speeches by Obama, Pelosi, and Reid saying it would happen. It didn’t happen. In fact, just the opposite happened. It failed miserably. Not enough young people signed up. But taxes still went up. Our choices went down. 5 million people lost their health insurance. Premiums doubled and quadrupled. The ink was not even dry on the Obamacare legislation, the Obama administration had to provide subsidies, exceptions, and exemptions to their own laws in order to bribe citizens, companies, and states to participate and they still didn’t get enough subscribers to justify the program and expense. Worse yet, they learned nothing from the rapid implosion of their theory in practice. So why should we trust them at all when they aggressively continually try to persuade us to do things they insist are “good” for us which turn out to be bad for us?
As I type this, Democrats from all around the country are singing in harmony about a wonderful new world of possibilities for American workers at the bottom rungs springing up from the loss of jobs due to Obamacare, in an attempt to create a silk purse from a sow’s ear.
The new buzzword is JOB LOCK. Democrat leaders talk about JOB LOCK as if it means people are being imprisoned if they are employed, as if they are held captive by their employers and by their healthcare plans those employers provide. The only solution, of course, is to liberate the people from their jobs and their healthcare plans. You know, the very healthcare plans that President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and their minions said that people could keep if they “liked them.” And that’s exactly what they are doing: creating job loss and loss of healthcare coverage. How liberating!
Here’s Democrat House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, trying to spin it:
“The GOP seems to have forgotten that ending ‘job-lock; has been an avowed Republican goal for years — even a highlight in the Republican Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential race.” 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 20% 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 of our money just so we could liberate the Job-Locked Poets!
Now every Democrat leader is taking a bow for freeing Americans from the shackles of employment. “People shouldn’t have job-lock,” Harry Reid declared this week. “We live in a country where there should be free agency. People can do what they want.”
That’s an awfully awkward way to tout a law that compels people to buy insurance even if they don’t want it, during a “recovery” where millions can’t find a job and where millions more will lose their jobs and insurance.
The CBO report cited above projects that by 2024, the number of non-elderly uninsured will be — drum roll, please — 31 million Americans. And that’s precisely why all this talk by Democrats of Democrats being the great Job-Lock Liberators is both pathetic and hilarious. Virtually every promise they made has been broken, every prediction falsified, or the complete opposite has happened. And now, at a time when millions want work that doesn’t exist, Democrats are claiming victory by trimming the amount of work actually being done.
Meanwhile “Job Lock” means something entirely different to American Conservatives and Republicans. “Job-lock” to them is an insurance portability problem. Instead of effectively paying people to work less, as Obamacare does, conservative proposals against “Job Lock” offer to make health insurance portable and end federal preferences for employer-based insurance, allowing Americans to take insurance with them from job to job. People would not be stuck with a specific employer because they want to stay insured. Now that is truly liberating.
Conservative health policy heavyweights and think tanks like The Heritage Foundation have repeatedly argued for a national transition to what they call “portable insurance.” The tax code currently gives those with employer-based coverage a break, making it harder for Americans to switch jobs as they please. That is what Job Lock really is: Insurance tied to a specific employer and fortified as such by our tax code.
Imagine if households, not firms or government, chose and controlled their own insurance plans and people no longer faced the risks that come with changing coverage based on new employment arrangements, sometimes having to settle for less coverage or benefits. But was this a proposal even considered by the Democrats in passing Obamacare? Absolutely not. By carrying the same insurance plan from one job to the next (or even through periods with no job at all), individuals would keep their coverage even if their health status changed, without any government mandates or intervention. That’s why the Democrats opposed these plans and didn’t consider them — they involved no intervention by their greedy hands and gave more choice to the citizens with no excuse to raise taxes. Obama himself vehemently opposed such proposals, saying in his campaign, “Senator McCain would pay for his plan, in part, by taxing your health care benefits for the first time in history.”
Then, of course, the Democrats argued, if we eliminate jobs (see how they are killing coal and manufacturing) take people OUT of the job market permanently, and if we have constant demand for labor, then wages must go up. After all, we don’t want people to become wage slaves, do we? No! That was their actual argument! Kill jobs, and create more losers, who give up searching for work, and the resulting constant labor demand seeking far less jobs will cause income to rise. Less employed creates less demand for labor and therefore wages go up. At least they won’t become wage slaves. Brilliant. Where was that diploma from again? Same place as the birth certificate, social security card, and passport, you say? Hmm… Is there a single brain cell among them, or are they just trying to tip the scales and create more people who are pathetically dependent over multiple generations on an increasingly Big Brother Government?
Watch the video below. I think Groucho’s logic is much more intelligent than that of Obama and the Democrats. It is time to stop being manipulated by such insane double-talk and to take America back. Hopefully voters will look for ways to liberate these Democrats from the curse of job-lock come November 2014. Perhaps they could then get out of our hair and go write poetry. Now that would be poetic justice.
Bruce Tanis is an economist, financial expert, world traveler, and George F. Baker Scholar who works in finance in Manhattan.