The Republicans give lots of reasons for their opposition to the Affordable Care Act. Only two really matter.
One is politics. The other is money. More precisely, big-business money.
Like Social Security and Medicare, the expansion of health insurance coverage is making voters more predisposed to support the politicians that championed the law — and they’re all Democrats.
Meanwhile, the more Americans benefit from this new law, the more Republicans are being forced to modify and mellow their rejection of it.
Within a few years, it may become as politically suicidal to openly attack the Affordable Care Act as it would be to call for abolishing Medicare.
Of course, Republicans can’t say they oppose the reform law often called “Obamacare” because it boosts the Democratic Party’s prospects. So they say it violates states’ rights. They say it infringes on individual liberty. They say it hurts small businesses. They say it will cost Americans their jobs.
None of these charges is withstanding scrutiny.
The law was written with states in mind. That’s why states can build their own insurance exchanges. It doesn’t erode individual liberty. The Supreme Court said so. And while it will be some time before we know about the law’s full economic impact, the evidence so far suggests that it puts more money into the pockets of people who will spend it, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office.
Wasn’t that the same report that said Obama’s expansion of health insurance coverage is killing jobs? Indeed, many news outlets reported exactly that. But that’s a misreading of the report.
The CBO found that some workers — mothers with small children, students, and those close to retirement — have voluntarily left the workplace, because they didn’t need a job to maintain access to quality health care anymore.
Once the Affordable Care Act began to take effect, these workers exercised their newfound economic freedom by choosing to quit. They’re now caring for their kids and grandchildren, focusing on their own education, simply opting to enjoy their golden years, or starting their own businesses.
That’s something to celebrate. The critique that the Affordable Care Act somehow reduces the incentive to work doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
The voluntary exit of more than 2 million workers from the American labor force will benefit many people. These workers are free to follow their dreams. If they are providing care, they will ease our caregiving deficit. And other Americans seeking work may finally find a job.
At the same time, money saved on health care can be spent on things that small businesses sell. Yes, I know. Republicans claim higher wages are bad for small businesses, and because small businesses are the engine of the economy, Obama’s expansion of health insurance is a job-killer. That’s just wrong.
Wages aren’t the top concern of small businesses. Taxes and poor sales are. So with more money in more pockets, sales receipts should climb.
When you strip away the rhetoric and take a good hard look at what the Affordable Care Act actually does, it sure looks like the new law raises wages and increases workers’ bargaining power.
Cross-posted from Other Words
Photo: ProgressOhio via Flickr