Obamacare’s negative incentives for workers

Thomas Donlan uses his latest Barron’s editorial commentary to explain the real meaning of the Congressional Budget Office’s projections about Obamacare’s impact on jobs in the American economy.

The Congressional Budget Office has issued a report that brings new hope to critics of Obamacare. It said, in essence, that when you subsidize something, you get more of it, and when you tax something, you get less of it. …

… [T]he CBO recently calculated that the equivalent of the labor of two million full-time workers will be voluntarily withdrawn from the economy by 2017. Its earlier estimate was 800,000 full-time equivalents, but the agency explained that new economic research shows that the disincentive is stronger than previously believed.

This has been spun, incorrectly, to sell the idea that Obamacare kills 2.3 million jobs. That may be overkill. It’s more accurate to say that those people will kill their own jobs, or at least maim them.

The country has 10.4 million people looking for work, another 3.3 million who have given up the search as futile, 14 million on disability, and 37 million who have retired. Uncounted numbers of them avoid taxes by finding work in the underground economy. …

… The chief White House economic advisor, Gene Sperling, declared that if the CBO prediction comes true, it will be a victory for hard-working families. The ACA will strike a blow for the freedom to leave a job without worrying about losing health insurance, he said. He showed no concern for the taxpayers and insurance customers paying for other people’s freedom and peace of mind, nor for the employers who pay health-insurance premiums to attract and retain their workers.

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