Here at NewNY23d, we were disappointed to learn that our congressman, Rep. Tom Reed, is pushing the Tea Party line about Obamacare costing 2 million jobs. (Click here, and scroll down to the comment about the Gowanda town hall meeting by Marcia Westling Johnson.) This contention has been widely and thoroughly discredited over the past week.
The Congressional Budget Office issued a report last Tuesday that estimated, in an appendix, the the Affordable Care Act would reduce the number of hours worked by the equivalent of 2.5 million jobs over the next decade. Does this mean that 2.5 million people are going to be thrown out of work? Far from it. The Affordable Care Act is giving workers the ability to exercise options they never had before, and one of those options is to leave the full time workforce.
Workers with pre-existing conditions who have been holding onto jobs that provide insurance, can now consider early retirement because they can no longer be denied private insurance. Some who have been working full time primarily to pay for their health insurance may now find that they can reduce their hours and find an affordable health care policy on their state exchange. Some workers may decide they can afford to go part-time and spend more time with their children, substituting an exchange-purchased policy for the insurance their employer formerly provided.
The Affordable Care Act, in short, increases personal freedom, and this is something to be celebrated. The U.S. labor force totals about 155 million. A reduction in hours equal to 2.5 million is small, but not negligible — there will be a loss in terms of output, wages earned, and taxes paid. One answer to that problem would be immigration reform that could bring a wave of young, talented, and highly educated new workers into the labor force — but Speaker Boehner has all but ruled out immigration reform for the foreseeable future.
Returning to our congressman, we wish he would show more respect for his constituents. We do read.