Obamacare Pays To Not Work


A “navigator” helps an enrollee sign up for Obamacare
Source: Joel Martnez, AP

It pays to work.

Least ways, it used to. If the anticipated effect of yesterday’s Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report with regards to Obamacare comes to fruition, it’ll pay not to.

According to the report, about 2.3 million people who are eligible to purchase cheaper health insurance or receive subsidies under Obamacare may voluntarily reduce their hours worked. In other words, a worker putting in full time hours to receive employer-based insurance may decide to cut their hours to part time to receive government subsidies through the exchanges. Or, a worker ineligible for Medicaid by making too much money might reduce their hours to become eligible.

Boy Wonder–he shaved his beard, after all–Jay Carney called the former circumstance of working full time for benefits being “job locked”, and that Obamacare is merely granting people the “freedom” to “make choices”.

In my day, we called working full time to pay our bills simply a “job”. It wasn’t a condition of being, but a necessity, because: stuff costs money. It meshes well with the whole “being an adult” thing that government seems to be doing its damnedest to relive us of. But I digress. Today, I thought of informing my boss that Carney says he’s stifling my “freedom” to make choices for myself, and that he’s “locked” me into my job. However, upon reflection, I didn’t wish to subject myself to a glassy stare before being kindly ordered to leave his office post haste.

Having the freedom to make decisions for one’s self is generally a virtuous endeavor. However, as Charles C. W. Cooke over at National Review rightly states:

“After all, it is one thing for a person to choose not to work and to accept the natural consequences of that decision, but quite another indeed for a person to choose not to work because others are being forced to subsidize his well-being.”

And that cuts to (one such) problem that conservatives (least ways yours truly) have with the CBO report, and Obamacare in general. The consequences of an individual who chooses to forgo full time work is not solely borne by the individual themselves. Millions of full time workers handing in labor hours for government subsidies means that fewer labor hours are available with which to derive tax revenue from. The equation is simple: Fewer hours worked, less money earned, less money taxed. A shrinking contingent of workers in such a situation are being forced to shoulder a greater burden in paying for government through taxation.

Which is why, if you’re the federal government, you ought be encouraging greater labor participation, not creating a situation whereby people are better off not doing so. A $17.3 operating debt (and the massive interest payments it commands) won’t pay for itself. Short of the Federal Reserve turning on the printing press again–which has it’s own attendant problems–the country needs workers paying taxes. Obamacare” risks diminishing the tax base. So how is the CBO report a “good thing”, as the Administration has been spinning?

If access to health care coverage is a “right”, do we have a further “right” to avoid for ourselves the burden of contributing to its cost? Increasing, the answer is “yes”.

Your tax dollar stands to get thinner in due course, as it’s being forced to cover an ever increasing amount of government services for more people. What could possibly go wrong?





About Michael Haugen

Michael Haugen is a full-spectrum conservative and recent graduate from Eastern Washington University (BS Biology). His main interests in politics and public policy center around health care, education and tax reform. He'll be returning to EWU in 2014 to complete a Master's degree in Public Administration. Follow him on Twitter: @HaugenTRA

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