Incentives

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.


Incentives

It seems with every passing week, another shoe drops in the mess that is Obamacare.

This week, it was the job-killing shoe that fell.

The news came from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which issued a devastating report detailing how the Affordable Care Act will encourage some 2.3 million full-time workers to leave the workforce or reduce their hours by 2021. That’s nearly three times the 800,000 jobs the CBO originally projected would be lost.

In the words of CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf, “The act creates a disincentive for people to work.”

The problem lies in the fact that Obamacare subsidizes those at the low end of the income scale by imposing exorbitant premiums and deductibles on higher-income earners. The CBO predicts the (Un)Affordable Care Act will encourage able-bodied people to leave their full-time jobs as a means to lower their premiums and qualify for government subsidies or Medicaid. Others may leave their jobs because Obamacare enables them to live more comfortably on the public dole than off it.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that, when one of the major benefits of employment is removed, the drive to work is weakened for some.

Rather than admit that the law harms individuals, families and the economy, liberals instead have flocked to microphones to spin this news. Showing the same respect for the truth they did in promoting the company line — or lie — that “If you like your plan, you can keep it,” Obamacare supporters have spent the week claiming that the loss of 2.3 million jobs is a good thing. You see, it’s about freeing people from “job lock.”

“Job lock” — in the words of Sen. Harry Reid’s spokesman, Adam Jentleson — “is when people feel they have to stay in a job for the health benefits.”

In other words, “job lock” is the encouragement to continue working that comes through perks of employment. By the left’s logic, the government may want to consider shelling out vacation accruals and annual bonuses to the whole country to prevent people from feeling too tied to their jobs. Better yet, let’s just give everyone a paycheck every other week so they’re free to do whatever they want, which seems to be the reasoning of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Those ideas are absurd, of course, but one gets the sense that they wouldn’t sound that way to Sen. Reid. In response to the news that millions are gearing up to leave the workforce, Reid said: “The CBO report is far better for us than it is not.”

If your goal is to expand government’s reach and people’s reliance upon it, I suppose you would be happy with this news; as the number of unemployed Americans grows, so too does the perceived need for government handouts.

This latest revelation about Obamacare reinforces the fact that when government overreaches, the negative effects go beyond the economic. The drive to work hard and succeed — long one of the essential traits of the American character — is weakened as well. And that may be the most regrettable casualty of all.

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Earlier this week, I shared with you NPRI’s latest project, Transparent California. This website, located at TransparentCalifornia.com, allows users to easily search the compensation levels of public employees just like they can at TransparentNevada.com. The new site launched on Tuesday and has been a great success in its first few days. At some point this morning, the site garnered its 500,000th page view, and it has earned over 40 media hits.

I’ll keep you posted on the continuing good news that’s sure to come from expanding transparency to Californians, including the benefits to us right here in Nevada as well.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend.

Andy Matthews
NPRI President


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