Is the ObamaCare Labor Bombshell Good News?
Pundits divided on implications of CBO report
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Feb 5, 2014 1:43 PM CST
President Barack Obama speaks at Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, Md., Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(Newser) – On the face of it, the Congressional Budget Office report saying ObamaCare could shrink the full-time workforce may sound bad—but some pundits weighing in suggest it could actually be beneficial. Here's a sampling of what they're saying:

  • To the editors of the New York Times, it's "a good thing." The report says the Affordable Care Act won't "produce an increase in unemployment (workers unable to find jobs) or underemployment (part-time workers who would prefer to work more hours per week)," they write. Instead, "the report is about the choices workers can make when they are no longer tethered to an employer because of health benefits."

  • Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Michael Hiltzik agrees: "The CBO projects that the act will reduce the supply of labor, not the availability of jobs." Indeed, "it suggests that aggregate demand for labor (that is, the number of jobs) will increase." Citing an economist, he adds that flexibility provided by ObamaCare will help "older workers with serious health conditions" who work for the purpose of benefits; it will also help young moms who might go back to work early for coverage.
  • The Wall Street Journal's editors disagree. "For low-wage, lower-skilled or discouraged workers in particular, ObamaCare offers incentives that can force them to trade jobs for entitlement benefits," they write. The CBO's report points to "an implicit tax on additional earnings"—because under the law, health subsidies disappear as one's income increases. "These effective marginal tax rates reduce the rewards for work."
  • In the Washington Post, Dana Milbank sees the report as a boost for Republicans. The White House has often trumpeted CBO findings on the health law; now, "ObamaCare has been undermined by the very entity (officials) had used to validate it." A shrinking workforce "will inevitably be a drag on economic growth, as more people decide government handouts are more attractive than working more and paying higher taxes."

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Showing 3 of 412 comments
Feb 6, 2014 12:51 PM CST
I have never read a bigger piece of trash, spin it baby! Matt Cantor and whoever originally wrote that article need to be fired for being mentally retarded.
Feb 6, 2014 11:39 AM CST
In the name of fairness and so called equality, liberals always drag the rest of society down to the lowest denominator so the laziest don't feel like losers. They've done it in the schools by removing failing grades, they've done it in sports by giving everyone a trophy or not keeping score, they''ve now done it in getting rid of the better healthcare system just so everyone can have equally miserable insurance and now they have no problem permanently cutting the work week so the rest of us can support them. Amazing how the government sponsored news agencies are jumping to cover up the truth about Obamacare's consequences on the economy. You have to be a complete idiot to believe the excuses they are coming up with!
Feb 6, 2014 10:44 AM CST
The more able-bodied people willing/working 40 hours/week pushing themselves to add value to their employers and only willing/working for employers equitably paying them for that value, the better... such mutually-benefitting professional relationships are what "earn" them our respect. All able-bodied people/businesses not doing both sides of the willing/working interaction noted above deserve what the market forces (vs government or union interventions) ultimately will do to them... such unilaterally-benefitting professional relationships are what "entitle" them our disrespect. Hopefully the ACA is not getting in the way of either of the above... ... and even more hopefully, it is facilitating more of the former than the latter.