Disincentivize

For the last week I’ve been listening to the chatter about the Congressional Budget Office report about the impact of ACA on the economy.  The Republican interpretation is that 2.5 million people will suddenly quit their jobs just to qualify for the ACA subsidy. While its clear this is Republican propaganda, I kept thinking, who are these people? Who are they trying to demonize?

The default target is poor blacks and Latinos but the ACA subsidy isn’t about poor people it’s about the folks in between poor and rich.

In Ohio, to qualify for the ACA subsidy my family of three would have to make between $30 – $78,000. At the top end, the cost of a health plan would be roughly $8,500 with an $1,100 subsidy. At $55K the subsidy becomes $3,500, and at $30K the subsidy is $7,200 meaning the plan costs about $100 a month.

Someone who makes $30K a year in Ohio does not exactly fit the Reagan profile of welfare queen. So who is this person willing to lower their income in order to “play the system?” What job would they quit? They would still have to pay the premium, co-pays and out-of-pocket costs up to with less money every month.

So who are they demonizing this time? I haven’t figured it out yet.

There is always abuse of any public welfare program (see Welfare, Corporate: “JPMorgan Chase, which made a preliminary $13-billion mortgage settlement with the U.S. government, is allowed to write off a majority of the deal as tax-deductible, saving the corporation $4 billion.”), or the fact that whole industries pay workers so poorly that they still qualify for public assistance while working full-time.

But the ACA subsidy isn’t about fast-food workers because they already qualify for Medicaid and Food Stamps. Think tanks like the Heritage Foundation are asserting that people will turn down higher paying jobs if it jeopardizes their subsidy. The same argument they make against unemployment benefits by the way Again I ask – who?

Why do the richest people in our society assume that poor people want to stay poor? All the poor people I have ever known would gladly give up any and all benefits for a decent wage and a nice place to live. Public assistance on its very best day is still degrading.

The disincentive argument seems knee-jerk and thin. I dont think its going to stick unless they can find a particular group to consistently demonize. The GOP as a whole is out of touch in a way that is amazingly dangerous to their future.

Then again conservative Americans can usually be counted on to vote against their own self-interest, so who knows.

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