Has the CBO missed something?

Probably not, but I’ll ask the question and see if greater minds than mine will weigh in.

The CBO’s Budget and Economic Outlook for 2014 to 2024 says that some workers, mostly very low wage workers, will reduce their hours by an amount approximating 2 million jobs. So what is going to happen with all of those lost hours?

Imagine if a guy who worked at McDonald’s and Walmart quit the McDonald’s job thanks to the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. What is McD’s going to do? One of four things, would be my guess:

1) Limp along, and perhaps close a store because they can’t find anyone to work there.
2) Replace the position with technology.
3) Hire someone who is currently out of work.
4) Increase pay or benefits to attract job hunters, who are no longer as desperate as they were, to unpleasant jobs.

The third possibility seems most likely to me. As long as there are unemployed people looking for some extra cash, McDonald’s is going to have a ready supply of desperate people to humiliate in exchange for low pay and no benefits. Some of those people will be people who wouldn’t have taken a minimum wage job before, because that would mean working for less money than they need to support their families while wasting 30 hours a week that could otherwise be used for job hunting or self improvement. Now, with medical expenses covered, they might be more willing to take what they can get.

I just don’t see all of those hours disappearing. I can see some cases where someone may quit a low wage job and the business might limp along for a while without someone to fill that position, but the CBO’s estimate of 1 to 2 percent of hours worked seems high to me. And I think they missed the reserve of unemployed people who will be hired to fill those lost hours.

Stylized image of CBO Report cover

Negotiating Health Care Reform

Crowing about the Republican failure to get their demands after costing the nation 24 billion dollars and threatening even more damage may be playing into Republican hands by helping to spread the “Democrats won’t negotiate” lie. David Akadjion warns about this while using, as an example, a Racheal Maddow chart which says “They Got (Nothing)”:

Note how the Maddow chart appears to a conservative who has bought into this idea that Democrats won’t negotiate.

Akadjion points out that negotiations were in place prior to the shutdown. But the Affordable Care Act was a negotiation right from the start.

The original idea was single-payer, but even before Barack Obama got elected with a significant majority, right wing pundits began lying about how horrible health care was in countries with nationalized health care. People in those counties defended their systems and thought Americans were crazy for resisting reform. The phrase “Best health care system in the world” was widely used by right wing pundits, and even when Glen Beck’s “best in the world” rants were starkly and hilariously debunked by Beck’s own bitter criticism of American health care just a short time earlier, Fox News fans, some of whom must have seen both stages of Beck, didn’t seem to get the irony.

The first health care compromise was to trade single payer for a public option. This would have allowed each citizen to choose between “socialized medicine” and a private insurer. But the Republicans criticized the public option on two fronts: First, that government will provide expensive, complicated, and low quality health care than nobody wants, and second, that private insurers will be at an unfair disadvantage in competing with such a system. Again, irony lost.

So be it. President Obama’s answer to Republican criticism was “Ok, we’ll do it your way”. And so the Affordable Care Act was patterned after Mitt Romney’s health care plan for Massachusetts (Romnycare) and on suggestions for health care overhaul promoted by such right wing outlets as the Heritage foundation. The right wing response to Democrats altering their own vision for health care in favor of a Republican idea was to fight it at all costs.

From that point on, any attempt to negotiate with Republicans was met with resistance, followed by lies about the intransigence of Democrats. Republicans achieved a new level of hypocrisy by taking their own idea to the Supreme Court. When ACA was deemed constitutional by SCOTUS, Republicans pinned their hope on electing Mitt Romney to repeal a national health care system based on one of the few successes he had in an otherwise dismal record as governor of Massachusetts. And Romney lost.

Republicans claim that the ACA never had majority support. That’s no longer true, but even when polls showed less than a majority in favor of Obamacare, Americans approved of the provisions of ACA as long as it wasn’t called “Obamacare”. A classic example is the Kentuckian who was impressed with Kentucky’s new health care exchange system.

… The man is impressed. “This beats Obamacare I hope,” he mutters to one of the workers.

Obamacare polls are also misleading in other ways. For one thing, much of the disapproval over Obamacare is about the concessions Obama made trying to woo conservatives. Another point which Obama pollsters fail to mention: There is no plan with majority support, including doing nothing. Even before Obamacare polled with majority support, it was more popular than any other idea.

So here were today, in the aftermath of a 24 billion dollar temper tantrum led by a junior Congressman who for some reason, has the Republican party by the nose. What Ted Cruz has to say about the damage he has caused in his failed attempt to undermine the will of the people is, “I hope that in time, the Senate begins to listen to the American people.”

If Congress were to listen to the American people, they would support Obamacare, and stop causing billions of dollars with of damage to our nation trying to destroy it.