Things You Don’t Say Even If They’re True

Remember those old cartoons they used to have in the newspapers? How many things can you find wrong with this picture? Maybe they still have them.

How many things can you find wrong with this statement:

On a conference call with reporters, a senior administration official said the change in worker behavior due to health care access reforms found in the Affordable Care Act was not a surprise.

“To put that in context, I have no doubt that if we eliminated Social Security and eliminated Medicare, there would be many 95-year-olds that would choose to work more hours than they’re working today just so they could survive, feed themselves and have health insurance,” the official said.

That statement was made in response to reporters’ questions about a CBO report which, probably to no one’s surprise, found that the PPACA would result in a lower labor force participation rate, slower growth, and a higher budget deficit than previous projections had suggested.

23 comments… add one
  • ...

    First, and most glaringly to this former corporate functionary ordinaire, CONFERENCE CALL. Seriously, a CONFERENCE CALL. Uggh, those things are the worst.

    Excuse, I just don’t think I’m going to be able to get over that. Early on I tagged this Administration as the Administration of the Management Training Seminar (remember all the working groups and breakout sessions?) This just … I’m sorry, I’m going to have to stop and just get the thought out of my head. CONFERENCE CALL

  • PD Shaw

    Clearly, the contextual statement was more appropriate for a tweet; a one-off that will make you smile, but don’t think too much about it.

  • It’s too long for a tweet.

    As for not thinking too much about it that goes for nearly everything said by this administration since November 2008.

  • PD Shaw

    I had lunch with an employer in the just over 50 employee crowd, whose business is young and growing. I asked him how he sees the ACA effecting him.

    He finds their new insurance expensive and was happy that the state provided a one-year waiver to keep the old insurance, but he thinks the employees will not be happy with how expensive it is. (I’m guessing that as far as the insurance market is concerned, under 100 employees is still a small business) He is concerned that people will find the insurance too expensive and purchase on the exchanges, and if they receive subsidies, his business will pay a $3,000 penalty each. He said in the future they need to look at jobs that pay under the $15 per hour subsidy threshold for subsidies and either look at a different mix of labor or assume that those jobs come with a $3,000 annual fee.

    Completely anecdotal, but an example of well-intentioned legislation that is probably harming people it wanted to protect. Fewer jobs below $15 per hour or reduced compensation.

  • PD Shaw

    I’ve never tweeted nor twittered; momma didn’t raise me to keep it short and simple and sweet.

  • Andy

    I love twitter as a source of information. With no real news, especially international news, on TV anymore, I use Twitter to follow world events. I don’t tweet much though, I tried for a while, but the character limit is just dumb and promotes snark.

  • Red Barchetta

    The real Orwellian thing, showing once again how ridiculous this Administration is, is the position Team Obama took that its a good thing to destroy the jobs because its providing “new options” for people to react to.

    New lows in pathetic rationalization.

  • ...

    With no real news, especially international news, on TV anymore….

    And some of the major sites are going downhill fast online, too. CNN has covered the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman as though he were the President, the Pope, and an SEC football coach all rolled into one.

  • Zachriel

    Dave Schuler: Things You Don’t Say Even If They’re True

    Why not? Of course the PPACA will cost jobs. Social Security costs jobs. Medicare cost jobs. Should we end Social Security and Medicare?

  • First off, you never ever raise the specter of the acceptability of 95 year olds needing to work even to dismiss it. Second, you don’t hand ammunition—even mistaken ammunition—to your political adversaries.

  • PD Shaw

    Does Social Security really cost jobs? I guess I wouldn’t assume that all government spending is necessarily unproductive. There are at least some things that government can do for everybody that cannot be done as efficiently individually.

    It appears that a lot of the effects of the ACA are from what are effectively steep marginal tax increases. The 95 year old that finds himself in a position of need or want more than the government provides cannot take a part-time job to improve his situation, he will actually become poorer by taking that job.

  • Zachriel

    PD Shaw: Does Social Security really cost jobs?

    In the direct sense, yes. It takes money out of the economy and gives it to unproductive people. It also encourages people to retire when they might otherwise continue working.

    On the other hand, it the long run, it increases economic mobility as children no longer have as much responsibility for their parents, and gives people a bit more confidence when it comes to taking risks.

  • I don’t think that Social Security costs as many jobs as Zachriel is suggesting due to the different spend/save profiles involved. As I’ve written before, I think that Social Security results in more spending and less saving than might otherwise be the case. The additional spending certainly constitutes additional economic activity. As to whether the reduced saving reduces economic activity, I think it’s complicated.

  • Zachriel

    Dave Schuler: I don’t think that Social Security costs as many jobs as Zachriel is suggesting due to the different spend/save profiles involved.

    CBO is primarily talking supply side with regards to jobs. Social Security incentivises earlier retirement.

  • Jimbino

    After reaching the normal retirement age, a Social Security recipient can work and keep all his earnings net of taxes. There is some dis-incentive to work, of course, but not that high disincentive–effective tax rate exceeding 100%–experienced by many under Obamacare.

    Medicare is a different stupidity: it doesn’t keep me from working, but, since it is not available while I’m overseas, I don’t find it worthwhile to pay its premiums. Since my taxes go to support Medicare, however, it does give me every incentive to emigrate and renounce my citizenship altogether to escape the long arm of the IRS. Depardieu and Saverin lead the way!

  • PD Shaw

    I guess it depends on your counterfactual. I do believe that Social Security has elements of a public good. That 95 year old is not going to be allowed to die in the street, he either becomes a charity of his family, the state or the church. But I suppose it depends on your counterfactual; in a world without Social Security, I assume similar private programs are put in place with government support, such as retirement annuities that are federally insured and regulated for safety of investments. (I don’t think a lot of people could safely save enough to retire, but a retirement annuity would be the less expensive option, barring the risk of insurance company insolvency)

    To follow-up with what Jimbino wrote, the higher a person’s salary, generally the higher their Social Security payment, up to the point where the tax is lifted. I don’t think there are strong employment disincentives here, other than respecting the retirement age, which should be lifted IMHO. (I’m passing on Medicare)

  • PD Shaw

    I should add an addendum to my anecdote about the employer expressing concern about hiring below $15 per hour. I told him that I didn’t think an employer would be penalized if an employee bought subsidized insurance off the exchanges, so long as the employer offered qualifying insurance to its employees. He said that was not their research. I don’t know the answer — I’ve now seen competing assumptions about this; I just mark this down as businesses respond differently to regulatory uncertainty.

  • TastyBits

    @PD Shaw

    I am covered by the VA. Do you have any idea how this works regarding my employer.

  • PD Shaw

    @Tastybits, I don’t know. I suspect my friend is mistaken, but I didn’t want to insist on something that would cause him harm if I was wrong. There was a lot of specific legislation for the benefit of people receiving insurance through the VA, so I would generally assume your situation is better than most, but there are always the unintended consequences of well-intentioned deeds.

  • TastyBits

    @PD Shaw


    I might be moving from neutral, slightly negative, don’t give a crap to highly pissed, but I will wait to see what my employer says.

  • PD Shaw


    The CBO report Dave links to seems to make a good case that existing employment relationships should not be adversely effected by the ACA. The CBO accept the sticky wages argument that employers will tend to avoid disruption of the current work force and absorb any additional expense from the ACA for the short term.

    Instead, employers are currently more reluctant to make new hires. Long-term, real wages will decline, particularly for those in the under 400% of poverty range. The CBO believes the costs of the ACA, like the employer’s contribution to payroll taxes, will ultimately be borne by the employee.

  • TastyBits

    @PD Shaw

    I emailed my boss and told him he should look into it. The company should not get fined because I am covered by the VA or because they do not fill out the right form.

    Also, I do not want to become eligible for the “new options” formerly known as unemployment. Do the “new options” qualify for unemployment insurance?

  • ...

    Do the “new options” qualify for unemployment insurance?

    Possibly, but there will be a lot less to it now. Because, you know, the real reason people indulge in new options is because they’re lazy. That’s what the rich people tell me, anyway.

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