Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

February 27, 2014

Obamacare fix liberals can love

A recent Congressional Budget Office report on the economy added fuel to conservative criticisms of the Affordable Care Act, suggesting that U.S. workers will work up to 2 percent fewer hours — equal to about 2.5 million workers dropping out of full-time work.

But beyond the obvious political criticism, the CBO report should give both liberals and conservatives pause in their preference for means-tested programs for poor and moderate-income Americans.

Means-tested programs such as Obamacare that tie benefits to income can create large effective tax increases once an individual reaches a certain income threshold and loses benefits that were available below that threshold. This discourages low- income Americans from working more, or pursuing other opportunities to climb the economic ladder.

Reforming safety-net programs such as Obamacare so that they don’t penalize working more hours or taking a better job would allow both parties to claim victory in the battle against inequality — helping more poor families to lift themselves out of poverty along the way.

The health-care law’s pernicious labor market and tax effects have been widely discussed, and not only in conservative economic circles. In 2012, David Gamage, a former Obama administration Treasury official, wrote that the law created high marginal tax rates for some eligible enrollees (those people who earn up to about 200 percent to 250 percent of the federal poverty level). And because employers are penalized for not offering “creditable coverage,” Gamage also noted that it would actively discourage employers from hiring some low or moderate-income workers when the cost of maintaining mandated coverage exceeds the economic value of their labor.

Economist Casey Mulligan picked up on this theme last summer, writing that Obamacare’s generous subsidies will encourage more workers to work part time, even when their employer offers health insurance for full-time employees.

Text Only
Opinion
  • Your new password: sur**nder Have you changed your passwords since the security flaw known as Heartbleed emerged? Have you made sure they're all long, alphanumeric and randomized? Did you use a unique one for every site -- every bank account, every e- mail address, every music-s

    April 17, 2014

  • Hillary leans on Bill, Obama Recently Hillary Clinton gave what appeared at first to be a rambling and unfocused answer when asked to name the proudest achievement of her four years as Secretary of State. The short version is, she doesn't have one. But Clinton's words make a lot

    April 17, 2014

  • If GOP lost culture war, liberals did, too The "culture wars" have been a feature of American politics for almost a century, but recently a number of commentators have declared their end. Conservatives have lost, swept aside by a wave of enthusiasm for marriage equality and sexualized mass cu

    April 17, 2014

  • Cable guys too slow with Internet upgrade Remember the good-old 1990s, when you could make a pot of coffee while waiting for the screeching dial-up modem to connect to the Internet at a leisurely 9.6 kilobits per second? Two decades later, the average American household's connection is 1,000

    April 16, 2014

  • A May Day fable SPRINGFIELD -- Growing up during the Cold War, May Day always was a bit ominous. On the evening news, we'd watch tanks, missiles and soldiers march by the reviewing stands in Moscow, Beijing and Havana where stone-faced Communist leaders would look

    April 16, 2014

  • Display it proudly Editor: Drive past the demolition site of the old Good Samaritan Hospital on North 12th Street in Mt. Vernon and you will see the Stars and Stripes proudly flying from the flag pole. The hospital has been reduced to a pile of debris, but Old Glory st

    April 16, 2014

  • Got raw milk ... and salmonella? A refresher course in the work of Louis Pasteur should be mandatory for advocates of so-called raw milk. For anyone who missed fourth-grade science, Pasteur discovered that heating milk for a very brief time killed E. coli, salmonella, listeria, camp

    April 16, 2014

  • Heartburn Tens of millions of Americans have been affected by the theft of their personal information in the digital age. In a recent major data breach at Target stores, numbers and names were taken from about 40 million customers, and many millions more suffe

    April 15, 2014

  • Hitting home I received an article today with a suggestion to use it in a column. This one really hit home to me because it was about the outrageous price increases in diabetic testing devices and supplies. I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes several years ago.

    April 15, 2014

  • The cost of care This was a breakthrough week for health-care transparency. For the first time, the Obama administration released doctor-specific information about Medicare payments, starting with 2012 data on $64 billion worth of billings. Journalists immediately se

    April 15, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks