Policy makers in Washington who debate continuously about the deficit seem often to forget those who want to work, who look for work, who are desperate for work, but who remain unemployed.
But another unfortunate aspect of the recession we are now ever so slowly crawling out from under is the number of people who really want to retire, but who continue to work because they have to. Sometimes this is because they no longer have enough banked away, financial wizards on Wall Street having figured out how to prosper while gambling away the money of small investors.
Just as often, it is because of employer provided health care. You see, a lot of folks really depend on the health insurance they get through work. If they retire, health insurance will become prohibitively expensive. Lots of folks work because they have to. These folks specifically work just to keep health care.
When Social Security was enacted in 1935, conservatives insisted it would increase unemployment. That is because employers would be so outraged, they would turn away customers rather than hire enough employees to provide goods and services. But it turned out that Social Security enabled elderly workers to retire, and this made it a bit easier for other workers to get jobs. A social safety net can work wonders.
Would something similar happen if a rational system of health care was provided in the United States? It turns out it would. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office crunched the numbers and found that 800,000 workers would retire (pdf) in the next ten years because they could afford to retire, if they didn't have to continue working just to get insurance. That's 800,000 more workers than would otherwise retire. That's 800,000 more available jobs for those who need to find work.
The expansion of Medicaid and the availability of subsidies through the exchanges will effectively increase beneficiaries’ financial resources. Those additional resources will encourage some people to work fewer hours or to withdraw from the labor market...
Changes to the insurance market, including provisions that prohibit insurers from denying coverage to people because of preexisting conditions and that restrict how much prices can vary with an individual’s age or health status, will increase the appeal of health insurance plans offered outside the workplace for older workers. As a result, some older workers will choose to retire earlier than they otherwise would.
In fact, CBO Director Doug Elmendorf testified directly about the drop in workers. Fewer workers would be employed, he said, because more workers would finally be able to stop working and still have health coverage. Just like with Social Security during the Great Depression. 800,000 more retirees is not a lot when you consider the number of employees lining up to get those jobs. But every bit of good news counts, right?
The news was good, right up until conservatives started doing with policy what Andrew Breitbart did to Shirley Sherrod. A snippet of the testimony about 800,000 fewer workers was portrayed as 800,000 fewer jobs. The tiny video went viral, then hit major conservative publications.
The Weekly Standard's headline was "CBO Director Says Obamacare Would Reduce Employment By 800,000 Workers". The National Review followed suit. Bloggers and Congressional Republicans gleefully circulated the false information.
Even our own conservative contributor and friend, T. Paine, was taken in:
For starters, even the Director of the non-partisan CBO, Dr. Douglas Elmendorf admitted that Obamacare would end up costing 800,000 jobs by 2021 (video). One doesn’t help reduce health care costs very effectively by eliminating 800K jobs.
Although we are sure Mr. Paine will condemn the misinformation that fooled him and others, we don't expect any similar moves from those conservatives with a lesser standard of ethics.
When advocates of a viewpoint must continually falsify information, deliberately misleading in order to make their case, the casual observer might be forgiven for thinking the case itself is bogus. If hit-and-run conservatives had a valid point to make, they would be willing to do it honestly.
Its not that I don't trust you, my friend; it is simply that your objectivity has a decidedly left-wing bias, whereas mine is truly objective. LOL! :)
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