Ben Domenech of the Heartland Institute appears on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes this week to discuss Obamacare costs and the implications of the CBO report.
This is an excellent breakdown of exactly what the implications are of the CBO report and what Obamacare means for the work force in the future. The above quote is a key take-away. Hayes is arguing that it’s good that people don’t have to work more hours simply to ensure they have health insurance. Domenech argues that it’s not a good thing when some people have to work more hours to pay for the subsidies so other people can work fewer hours and still get healthcare. Taking more labor from some to pay for less labor from others. Gee, where have we heard this sort of philosophy before?
DOMENECH: The problem here is about labor force participation. It’s not about some new aspect of Obamacare that’s been discovered that’s killing jobs. This is CBO basically going back and looking at the prediction they gave us a few years ago, when they said that about 800,000 equivalent full time would drop out of the labor force because of Obamacare. This is them looking at it again after new research that’s been done by Harvard, by M.I.T. scholars, by the University of Chicago in particular that essentially found that the effect was going to be far more dramatic, in part this because of the effect of subsidies on the marketplace but it’s really driven by the fact that Obamacare is behaving differently than Romneycare in a couple of key ways, which was the basis for the earlier CBO assumption.
HAYES: That is a really good point. I think actually this is where we get to a genuine point of contention. Let’s separate out two kinds of ways in which peoplel might choose to work less because of Obamacare. One which a lot of people talking about is this early retirement, which you’ve seen a lot. I’ve heard a lot of people saying, i’m working until i’m on Medicare, that is a very common thing you hear. There’s a certain amount of people that the presence of Obamacare means I have guaranteed issue, i’m 60, 61, I can leave my job and I can have health care, I don’t have to stay locked in this job for healthcare. that to me seems like a net benefit, do you agree with that?
DOMENECH: Yes and no. I think it’s a net benefit for the people who are there, who are in that position. But In terms of what it can do to the cost of the subsidies, it could actually increase them, because you have older people that are likely to be sicker. So that may actually increase the cost of those subsidies, SO it’s a slight benefit for those people, but it also could hurt the bottom line.
HAYES: The other thing, right, is that the way — and this is an undeniable fact. This is not some made up right wing attack. The way the subsidies work, at the margins there’s going to be some trade-off someone’s going to have, which is, do I go into the workforce and earn more income and reduce my subsidy, or do I stay out of the workforce, earn less income and keep my subsidy? There’s gonna some pool of people for which there’s a heads or tails Flip. And that seems to me the kind of legitimate policy concern and critique for conservatives to make.
DOMENECH: It is, and I think it’s true, here’s the thing to remember, it’s true of all means tested programs —
hAYES: hat is the key point.
DOMENECH: But you have a situation where right now you have a lot of families out there, where you may have one full time employee and that’s not enough in terms of the bottom line, for a family of four making about $35,000 a year, the real effects that this has is that it makes it a lot less likely, a lot less tempting for that person to work a full time job, it makes it more tempting to work in a part time capacity, or to maybe not take a part time job for the spouse’s side, and that’s going to have an effect on the broader economy in terms of their future earning power.
HAYES: And the other question on this is, how much do we want people to work? This is average hours worked. It’s not like Americans are layabouts in any way. We work a lot more than a lot of other people. So the question is, is the good here, the weird subtext of this whole thing once people actually understand what the CBO report was saying, seems to be this kind of idea that like man, we need Americans working more hours. I just don’t see that as a political good.
DOMENECH: I think the real question Chris for you is, how many jobs are too many jobs? How few jobs are too few jobs. Its one of these situations where I think, in terms of the evaluation that the American people are going to make for themselves, my own perspective is, I’d rather have that family working more hours, because it’s going to increase their income over the course of time. It’s going to lead to better outcomes for their family. The perspective on the other side is, well, they’re working fewer hours, but they’re going to have health insurance, they’re going to have Obamacare there for them. And I think that that’s a question of what kind of economy do you want? Do you want one where people are working more hours for themselves and their families? Or do you want one where some people are going to be working more hours to pay for the subsidies, and some people are going to be working fewer hours but they’ll have health care?