Considering Obamacare

Let’s talk about Obamacare. It was bound to happen eventually right?

Last week, the Congressional Budget Office reported  that Obamacare would lead to a reduction in the workforce of 2.5 million jobs and it took approximately 2.5 seconds for everybody to freak out.

To be clear, this does not mean that 2.5 million people will now lose their jobs. The report states, “The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in business’ demand for labor.”

Translation: The reduction in the workforce comes from people voluntarily leaving their jobs or reducing their hours because they no longer need employer-provided health insurance. This is not a job loss from employers reducing hours or laying people off.

The real question, then, is how does Obamacare affect people’s employment decisions?

Paul Krugman, liberal op-ed columnist for the New York Times, said that,  “First of all, we’re mainly talking about reduced hours rather than quitting the work force.” More people will choose to work less hours.

And why shouldn’t they?  Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) claimed that Americans work too much – more than any other industrialized country in the world. And an ABC News report from last year agrees, stating we work “more than the English, more than the French, way more than the Germans or Norwegians. Even, recently, more than the Japanese.”

The White House argues that, because of Obamacare, people can finally retire and leave jobs they don’t wany, but have been locked into for health insurance reasons. The line goes that Obamacare empowers people to pursue their dreams. 

Personally, this makes sense to me. I just graduated college and am figuring things out. During this time and for the next few years, I can stay on my parents’ healthcare because of Obamacare. The goal is to choose a career I really enjoy  now, and by the time I am 26 be better prepared to afford my own health care. I am not taking  government handouts or costing taxpayers money. I’m just figuring things out without the concern of whether I can afford a doctor’s visit. This will be better for my short term stress level and long term health.

Republicans do not agree people voluntarily leaving the workforce is a good thing. In a Forbes article, Grace-Marie Turner argued that the CBO report proves that Obamacare is a disincentive for people to work. “[How] can we pay people not to work and expect the economy to thrive?”

Whether healthcare is a form of payment, I’m not sure, but I’ll go with it.

In O’Reilly’s interview with President Obama that I discussed last week, O’Reilly claimed the biggest difference between the two of them was that O’Reilly was against a “nanny state” and the President thought  the government should solve people’s problems. This idea that people can gain healthcare without working as hard fits into that narrative.

I’d like to have a nice little bow-like paragraph to tie this article up with, but I don’t. While writing these posts, the most unsettling thing at times is not making a concrete decision. I’m learning, slowly but surely, to consider two sides an argument and being okay saying, “I don’t know .” I’m learning, especially today, that more than one person can actually be right – it’s not just a cute idea.

As I’m writing this the White House announced that the employer mandate will be delayed again. Even from the middle, one thing is sure: this conversation is not over.