Monday, February 10, 2014

Cruising the Web

As should surprise no conservative, the CBO is now reporting that Obamacare is worsening our fiscal problems. It's amazing how all the criticisms of what conservative critics of Obamacare had predicted are now coming true.
Instead of a growing younger population and women entering the workforce in droves, labor force participation rates are declining.

The same CBO report projected that after 2017, “economic growth will diminish to a pace that is well below the average seen over the past several decades” as labor force growth slows due to the aging of the population.

At the same time as the economy is on shakier ground, welfare state obligations are exploding as baby boomers retire and health care costs grow.

In 2024, spending on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the Obamacare health insurance exchange subsidies will absorb two-thirds of the $4.9 trillion in revenue the CBO expects the federal government to collect. Add in the rest of mandatory spending and interest payments on the debt, and 96 percent of tax revenues will already be spoken for before Congress allocates money to pay for defense, veteran's benefits, education, transportation, the court system, international affairs and other budget items.

After 2024, the CBO warned, “the fiscal outlook is even more worrisome.”

In short, the CBO is portraying a future in which a smaller proportion of workers in a relatively weaker economy will be expected to subsidize an increasing number of government beneficiaries. And Obamacare is making matters even worse.
The Washington Post, in an effort to help the administration out, had a story yesterday about people who were able to quit their jobs thanks to Obamacare and are very happy about it. Such a story can help the administration fight back against conservative critics who jumped on the CBO report about how Obamacare will lead 2.5 million people to go work part-time instead of full-time. The question is whether Obamacare is the best way to liberate people from "job lock" and if all the people who will move to part-time work are moving because they have other circumstances that would make them prefer such an option. Or are they making that choice just to work fewer hours while reaping the same benefits. Conservatives have long argued that we need to decouple health insurance from employment. This is an anomaly that resulted from employment restrictions during World War Two. John McCain and Paul Ryan both proposed such programs. If their plans had been adopted, "job lock" would no longer be a problem and we wouldn't have all the other problems that Obamacare has created. And we wouldn't have the fiscal problems that Obamacare causes. As Timothy Carney writes,
The irony is that Obama blasted John McCain in 2008 for trying to end the tax code's distortions that favor employer-based health care. McCain wanted to kill the tax break for employer-sponsored insurance and replace it with a tax credit for any sort of insurance. This, Obama warned darkly, would lead to the “unraveling of the employer-based health care system.”

The greater irony, when liberals celebrate liberation from "job lock," is that most of Obamanomics – and much of Obamacare – heighten job lock and deter entrepreneurship.

Obama’s export subsidies and green-energy subsidies mostly go to bigger businesses. His regulations and mandates fall heaviest on startups and create barriers to entry.

Obamacare’s employer mandate strengthens the employer-based system, counteracting some of the bill’s other measures.

Partisan sniping will probably prevent a good discussion of the safety net's costs and benefits -- and the value of work. That's too bad, because it's a discussion worth having.
Joseph Lawler explains the four different ways that the CBO says Obamacare will reduce jobs. And those job losses are not all people escaping "job lock" and pursuing their dreams. Instead we have an entire political party that, as Michael Goodwin writes, "views work as a trap and celebrates those who escape it." And they don't have any worries about how removing that many people from the full-time job force will further endanger our fiscal situation.

Jonah Goldberg considers how universities encourage the sort of Utopian thinking that leads to these Obamacare arguments.
When Nancy Pelosi says that Obamacare is entrepreneurial because it will let people quit their jobs to become poets, you can see the campus utopianism coming through. Quitting your job is like changing your major from business administration to French literature. “You just make the most of yourself, dear,” Dean of Students Pelosi is saying, “we’ll take care of the rest.” Who is Julia — of “Life of Julia” fame — other than a permanent student with the government operating as a sympathetic R.A. or academic adviser? When you read millennial Lefties like this guy, you can almost hear him trying to convince his Model U.N. buddies to stage a sit-in at the cafeteria. Everyone should have a job if they want one, but nobody should have to take a job they don’t like. From design your major to design your life.

Of course, Utopias don’t exist — the word itself means “No Place.” Which is why I love listening to the supposed champions of the “reality-based community” talking as if, with just a tiny bit of tinkering and a few more tax hikes, everything will click into place. Harry Reid said this week that Obamacare will help achieve the goal of making everyone a “free agent.” This from a voluntary thrall of labor unions — who consider free-agency in any form to be heresy — and the chief protector of Obamacare, which denies Americans the freedom to refuse to purchase a product they don’t want.

Eutopias — good societies, not perfect ones — do exist. We live in one as a matter of fact. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. There always is, and always has been. But when you’ve got a good thing, there is almost by definition, no need to “fundamentally transform” it into something else. The utopian can never fully accept this because the good is always the enemy of the perfect. And it’s true that the perfect is better than the merely good in every respect, save one. It doesn’t, and cannot, exist. And dreaming of things that have never been and asking “Why Not?” won’t change that.
Goldberg also linked to this intriguing map of the 50 states renamed for countries with similar GDPs. I live in Sweden.

George Will ponders the lack of connection with reality that Obama's foreign and domestic policies labor under. The administration would prefer its own "magic words and numbers." Remember when liberals trumpeted that they were the "reality-based community." Such memories are a real giggle these days.

James Bruno writes in Politico wondering, "Why Does America Send So Many Stupid, Unqualified Hacks Overseas?" Rewarding political donors and supporters with ambassadorships is a bipartisan practice. Of course, Obama promised to be a different sort of president, but we all know how that has worked out. What I wonder is why these very wealthy and influential individuals want to leave their careers and lives here to be ambassador to places like Norway and Hungary.

For those who doubt whether Hillary Clinton will run in 2016, ponder this tidbit from Andrea Mitchell,
Hillary remained close to these wealthy donors during her time as secretary of state, Mitchell said. ”You would see, at State Department events, a lot of the big-money people,” Mitchell explained, speaking as someone who’d attended those events. ”They have always been part of her circle.”
How charming to use the State Department to continue the sort of money-raising that she and her husband pioneered in the White House.