Not a word of this claim was true. The budget office report didn’t say that people will lose their jobs. It declared explicitly that the predicted fall in hours worked will come “almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor” (emphasis added). And as we’ve already seen, Mr. Elmendorf did his best the next day to explain that voluntary reductions in work hours are nothing like involuntary job loss. Oh, and because labor supply will be reduced, wages will go up, not down.Theda Skocpol and Katherine Swartz at USA Today on how the health insurance law helps to cure "job lock":
We should add that the budget office believes that health reform will actually reduce unemployment over the next few years. [...] Remember, the campaign against health reform has, at every stage, grabbed hold of any and every argument it could find against insuring the uninsured, with truth and logic never entering into the matter.
Think about it. We had the nonexistent death panels. We had false claims that the Affordable Care Act will cause the deficit to balloon. We had supposed horror stories about ordinary Americans facing huge rate increases, stories that collapsed under scrutiny. And now we have a fairly innocuous technical estimate misrepresented as a tale of massive economic damage.
Meanwhile, the reality is that American health reform — flawed and incomplete though it is — is making steady progress. No, millions of Americans won’t lose their jobs, but tens of millions will gain the security of knowing that they can get and afford the health care they need.
Job lock is a problem not just for would-be entrepreneurs but also for employees who want to consider changing jobs, and for workers who want to reduce their hours, or take a break from the workforce to care for a family member or raise children. The CBO reportwas clear that the 2.5 million fewer full-time equivalent workers estimate is a result of choices made by workers because they won't be locked into jobs – some will choose to quit working altogether (perhaps choosing early retirement) and others will work fewer hours.Much more on the day's top stories below the fold.
Job lock is bad for America. Job mobility is reduced by an estimated 25% among workers with employer-provided health insurance. This matters to everyone, because job market flexibility spurs innovation and economic growth.
Does tying health coverage to employment really make it more difficult for workers to take time off, change jobs, or start their own businesses? Yes.
Aaron Carroll at CNN:
I understand why opponents of the ACA have long tried to twist these facts to support a position that declares the ACA is hurting the economy and increasing unemployment. But I'm baffled as to why the media failed to see that the key piece of evidence, the CBO report, didn't uphold their claims.Ned Resnikoff at MSNBC:
There's a big difference between a reduction in the supply of labor and a reduction in the demand for labor. It's time we all learned the difference.
All the CBO report shows is that health care reform will allow some people to work fewer hours and continue to receive coverage. If those workers find their jobs to be rewarding, then of course they have the option of staying on the job. But some of them may have a different kind of work that they would rather do instead: Taking care of their own children, for example, or trying to start up a new business. Maybe some of them would like more time to volunteer in the local community, go back to school, or pick up an instrument.Jamie Fuller at The Washington Post:
Anyone who has attempted any of the above activities can testify to the fact that they are all a kind of work. They just don’t happen to be minimum wage labor, the type of work which Obamacare most directly disicentivizes. According to the CBO, “the largest declines in labor supply will probably occur among lower-wage workers.”
When Cooke, Ryan and others bemoan the work-killing properties of Obamacare, they’re really saying that low-wage workers should be compelled to stay in these jobs or risk losing basic health coverage. That’s how important it is to keep people behind the counter at McDonald’s, even if it means those same people have less time to spend rearing their children or engaging in other forms of personally enriching, socially beneficial work.
[T]here was also some inarguably good news from the CBO report that was overshadowed by that 2 million. Testifying before the House Budget Committee Thursday, Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas W. Elmendorf said the new health-care law is expected to boost demand for labor and goods in the next few years because people benefiting from its expansion of Medicaid and insurance subsidies will likely have extra money to spend. That will actually reduce unemployment, Elmendorf said. And as Michael Hiltzik notes, "the ACA is cheaper than expected" and "it will 'markedly increase' the number of Americans with health insurance."Danielle Kurtzleben at US News & World Report:
Initially, says one expert, there will be benefits in the fact that there is plenty of slack in the labor market. The combination of many unemployed Americans and many people finding jobs just to get insurance means that if a few people cut back their hours, there will be more hours for the people who want them. In and of itself, that theoretically means people will be much happier, says Ken Jacobs, chair of the Labor Center at the University of California-Berkeley, though that effect would dissipate as the job market improves.Greg Sargent adds his take on how Republican dissatisfaction with Obamacare is driving the topline numbers:
“GDP growth isn't a good in and of itself,” he says. “The question here is what's going to create the most happiness for the greatest numbers of people. Being in a situation where people have to work full time or 40 hours a week at a job that may not be the best match for them because that is the only way to get health insurance is not the way you create the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people.”
Especially after years of obsessing over a sluggish economy, it might seem frivolous to consider balancing GDP growth against how happy Americans are. But it does prompt a thought experiment: Assuming for a moment that the Affordable Care Act produced precisely zero economic growth, either positive or negative, the question then is whether that boost in Americans’ contentment with their lives is worth it. And if the answer is yes, then the question is, what is the price of that happiness?
It turns out those telling Gallup the law has hurt them or their family are very disproportionately Republican and conservative. I asked Gallup for a breakdown of that 19 percent. The results:
Sixty percent of those who say the law has hurt them or their families are Republicans or GOP-leaning independents. Only 23 percent are Dems or Dem-leaning independents, and another 15 percent are non-leaning independents.
Meanwhile, there’s a strong ideological tilt here. A majority, 53 percent, of those who say the law has hurt them or their families are self-identified conservatives. Only 34 percent of them are moderates, and even fewer (10 percent) are liberals.