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THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

They quit their jobs, thanks to health-care law - “What conservatives would have you ask is, is it an appropriate use of someone else’s money to put you in that position to choose?”

From The Washington Post:

The equivalent of about 2.5 million Americans will quit their jobs, cut their hours or stop looking for work during the next decade because of new benefits available under the health-care law, according to recent Congressional Budget Office estimates that have renewed debate over the program’s effect on the economy.

In its report, the nonpartisan CBO says that workers, taking into consideration the new financial assistance available from the federal government to make insurance more affordable for low- and middle-income people, will scale back their productivity.

It contends that the effect on the labor force will be most pronounced among those who qualify for the subsidies — certain low-income people who make up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or $45,000 annually for an individual. The more money people make, the lower their subsidies.

The White House and its allies argue that the government has a role in addressing a failure of the health-insurance market: the high prices and coverage restrictions that have kept health coverage out of reach for so many people. Like Social Security, which provides a safety net so people can retire, the health law may have the effect of leading some Americans to stop working, they say.

But they called the impact positive, arguing that people have for too long been stuck in jobs that are a poor fit or that they dislike, simply for the benefits. While some people may make the calculation to just work less to keep more generous benefits, many will use their time to do something more productive, such as start their own business or take care of family members, advocates of the new law say.

Conservatives say that the CBO numbers prove that the health-care law will be a drag on the economy. Moreover, they say, it makes no sense to give people subsidies to encourage them to quit their jobs.

“What the White House wants you to think is, if a person chooses to make less income, they must be doing something that makes them better off,” said former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, now president of the American Action Forum, a conservative policy group. “What conservatives would have you ask is, is it an appropriate use of someone else’s money to put you in that position to choose?”

The CBO acknowledged that there could be some positive economic impacts from unleashing people from their jobs but concluded that there was no good way to quantify that, and therefore left the number out.

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