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February 7, 2014

Of Course It Comes With Strings Attached

Joe Charlebois

If you think that you have never seen a marionette handler operate a marionette that is in turn operating a marionette, you would be wrong. To put this into context, you need look no further than the way a statist operates.


Our current political system is one where entrenched politicians continually accrue power through the targeted use of taxpayer funds and debt. These statists can work the fine strings of the press and those benefitting from government largess as well as a seasoned marionette handler.


The dependency class remains dependent upon its handler to survive. The same strings that keep those in the dependent class upright are more importantly the same thing that keeps them from escaping its bondage.


This week in front of the House Budget Committee, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director, Douglas Elmendorf testified, among other things, what effect that the Affordable Care Act – or Obamacare – would have on the economy.


Mr. Elmendorf’s testimony gave talking points to members of the committee on both sides of the aisle. But what is not in dispute is the fact that the CBO sees Obamacare creating “…a disincentive for people to work.” For this the right sees this law creating another level of dependency at the expense of those “who can afford it.” The left sees this as an all-important step toward another incremental transfer of income that allows those at the lower end of the wage scale to work less – or not at all – and still receive benefits paid for by higher income taxpayers.


The American work ethic is gone. It has been decimated. It has instead been replaced with one that promotes an attitude of government entitlement. This obviously did not start with this administration, but it has normalized or de-stigmatized the asking for handouts.


The entitlement mentality has been fostered during times of Democratic and Republican leadership. That is not to say that conservative administrations actively promoted the ideals of entitlement, but rather there was usually no political stomach to aggressively pull back the reins on this runaway horse.


The White House this week went into full damage control mode as it was discovered that within the CBO report was a politically damaging piece of information regarding the cost of Obamacare with regards to its effect on employment.


The CBO reports that over the next seven years there will be the equivalent of 2.3 million fewer full time workers. This estimate is triple the number previously released.


In response, The White House’s chief economist, Jason Furman, points out that this law “is helping labor markets…helping businesses, and is helping jobs.” He also pointed out that: "This is not businesses cutting back on jobs. This is people having new choices."


Jay Carney, presidential press secretary, said that the “CBO’s findings are not driven by an assumption that ACA will lead employers to eliminate jobs or reduce hours, in fact, the report itself says that there is 'no compelling evidence that part-time employment has increased as a result of the ACA.' "


Even the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, Democrat Chris Van Hollen (D, MD) representing Maryland’s 8th District, looks at the substantial healthcare subsidies as a tool to use to start a business. “This is not about people looking for an excuse not to work; this is giving people the freedom to do other things including starting a business,” he stated.


The flexibility that Mr. Furman, Mr. Carney and Mr. Van Hollen speak of is the ability for low income earners to be provided choices. The defenders of the progressively diminishing subsidies see this disincentive as an opportunity for lower income individuals or families to spend the extra time at home, go to school, or as Mr. Van Hollen says, “start a business.”


What the statists conveniently leave out, and what House Budget Chairman, Paul Ryan (R., WI) so accurately describes is the fact that there is no incentive to climb the economic ladder if your subsidies decrease as your wages increase. They also fail to reveal that in order to fund this program it will require the confiscatory transfer of tax dollars from those who pay income taxes to those who don’t.


What Obamacare does incentivize is moving the middle class from working full-time to working part-time, or not at all. This is just the latest in a long history of government controls where the government marionette handlers direct your every move. Whether it is those who are dependent upon the handout, or the one who is required to pay for the handout, we all have strings attached.


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