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What kind of jobs are we talking about, anyway?


So I see this headline at Memeorandum:

Harvard Economist Estimates Health Repeal Would Destroy Up To 400,000 Jobs Per Year Over Decade

Just as House Republicans gear up to repeal the “job killing” Affordable Care Act, the Department of Labor is reporting that the U.S. economy added 103,000 jobs last month, pushing the jobless rate down to a 19-month low of 9.4 percent.

In fact, since President Obama signed health reform into law on March 23, 2010, the economy has created approximately a total of 1.1 million new jobs in the private sector. One-fifth of the new jobs — over 200,000 — have been in the health care industry.

Here is the report of Harvard economist David M. Cutler

Any proposal that adds $200 billion to our medical spending after a decade will have enormous economic implications. The employment impacts of health care repeal will be particularly severe because many of these costs will fall on businesses. As we’ve already seen, employers facing higher health costs will hire fewer people, lay workers off, and pay lower wages.

To estimate these employment impacts, I followed the methodology of myself and Neeraj Sood.13 That paper took estimates of the medical spending change associated with health reform and combined that with the econometric model of Sood, Arkadipta Ghosh, and José Escarce that estimated the employment impacts of changes in medical costs. I use the model to estimate the employment impact of repealing reform.

Figure 3 shows the net impact of repealing health reform on total employment. The baseline estimates show that 250,000 jobs will be lost annually if health reform is repealed. Annual job losses would average 400,000 using the greater estimate of 1.5 percentage point cost increases annually resulting from repeal. Figure 4 shows the estimated employment change by industry in 2016 (omitting health care, which will have more employment). More than 200,000 jobs will be lost in manufacturing and nearly 900,000 jobs will be lost in nonhealth care services.

I’m no bean counter but I got a few problems with this story. First of all, what kind of jobs are these 200,000 new jobs in the health care industry? Are they doctors and nurses? Or are they paper-pushers who process health insurance claims? Seems to me we’ve had a chronic shortage of nurses for decades and I haven’t heard of any problem with unemployed doctors.

The second problem I have is the assumption that higher health care costs will cause employers to hire fewer people. It seems to me that a more likely response would be for employers to stop providing health insurance. I’m not saying that would be a good thing, I’m just questioning the assumption upon which Cutler’s numbers are based.

I believe that Obamacare is a bad program. Not only that but it’s politically unpopular now and that will only get worse. Worst of all, it’s a Republican plan that the Democrats will be blamed for enacting.

We’re seeing a lot of conflicting claims right now about what effect repealing Obamacare would have on the federal budget. Democrats are claiming that Obamacare will reduce the deficit by $230 billion while Republicans are claiming that repealing it would reduce government spending by $540 billion.

Both are telling the truth, sort of:

CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have not yet developed a detailed estimate of the budgetary impact of H.R. 2, the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act, which would repeal the major health care legislation enacted in March 2010. Yesterday, we released a preliminary analysis of that legislation indicating that, over the 2012-2021 period, the effect of enacting H.R. 2 on the federal budget as a result of changes in direct spending and revenues is likely to be an increase in deficits in the vicinity of $230 billion, plus or minus the effects of forthcoming technical and economic changes to CBO’s and JCT’s projections for that period.

We have been asked to provide the revenue and direct spending components of that total. Extrapolating the estimated budgetary effects of the original health care legislation and accounting for the effects of subsequent legislation, CBO anticipates that enacting H.R. 2 would probably yield, for the 2012-2021 period, a reduction in revenues in the neighborhood of $770 billion and a reduction in outlays in the vicinity of $540 billion, plus or minus the effects of forthcoming technical and economic changes to CBO’s and JCT’s projections.

A recent Gallup poll shows that 46 percent of the country wants to repeal Obamacare and 40 percent say they want to keep it. Calling the general public stupid is a really popular pastime in the blogosphere but how are voters supposed to make informed choices if neither side will be completely honest?

Here at The Confluence we take pride in being Independent Liberals. We don’t feel any need to defend or support any party. We deal with the truth, even when it’s inconvenient. We’re not always right but we don’t fudge numbers or spin facts.


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15 Responses

  1. What jobs? I am thinking insurance bean counters and the hospital guys who kick you out for not having insurance…
    Also, Obama now proud of his “fight” for Bush’s tax cuts
    http://edgeoforever.wordpress.com/2011/01/08/the-morning-sneeze-yeay-bushs-tax-cuts/

  2. FAIL:

    Yes, yes, I know, media FAIL. But let me ask you a question. We now know that Dems have settled on a core set of messages to push back on repeal, mostly centered on the idea that it will take away crucial safeguards and run up the deficit. And that’s all very well and good.

    But is there a single phrase you can point to that Dems have uttered along these lines in recent days that’s anywhere near as memorable as “job killer” or “government takeover?”

    I mean, we haven’t heard anything pithy summarizing the Dems’ message that repealing reform will put countless children at grave risk, and we haven’t heard anything along the lines of “deficit busting” or “deficit destroying” or anything like that. Okay, those aren’t too good. Anyone else have any better ideas?

    Dems simply have to get better at this game.

    We don’t need better policies, we need catchier phrases!

  3. Obamacare is a monstrosity – 3,000 pages of blecch is pretty much the perception. Killing a monstrosity is not a bad option.

    Although, I do understand how some on the left can rationalize ‘it’s better than nothing’… and might fight to keep it.

    Having said all that – I selfishly just want the d*mned thing killed because Obama (really Pelosi) spent two years dragging it across the finish line in leiu of focusing on the economy and jobs – and his administration has taken ownership of it as his ‘signature’ policy.

    Making his signature policy ‘disappear’ would pretty much lay bare the real sham of this presidency. How could he ever be re-elected if he wasted two years on Vapor? (let alone two years on that catastrophe – although 40% don’t see it as a catastrophe)

    I know – it’s selfish, petty, vindictive behavior that should be beneath me… and yet I can’t help but root for repeal. In my mind I’m trying to ‘disappear’ the whole Obama experience…. the Brain Beach just has not done the job so far.

    • it should be killed because the lie about “fixing it later” is just that, a BIG LIE. The healthcare reform is going to cost more than the country can afford where a single payer or even a public option would have started to lower costs for healthcare.
      If the bill is not repealed it is just that much longer until we have a real solution to the crisis.

  4. Cludge is the best word to describe this concoction of Affordable Care Act fecal material. Using reconciliation on Christmas Eve while the crotch bomber winged on his angel-of-death mission to Detroit sums up the imagery fit for ObamaCare’s legislative sausage-making. 2600 pages of sawdust and tripe stuffing a giant wurst of the worst kind…!

    There are simply no words to describe the utter mindlessness and total grandiosity of a Pelosi acting as though ACA was a great achievement and that we didn’t have to read it because it was a pinata full of delightful bonbons and delicious treacle.

    Using deceitful Dem accounting methods that make green eyeshade types cringe at the double bookkeeping, there is a tiny blank ink surplus.

    Using normal accounting techniques, up to $701 billion red-ink deficits, the GOP attests and has the CBO letterhead that supports those numbers using assumptions based on fair and methodical accounting.

    Maybe we need a lockbox for Nancy’s brain, so that she can never again inflict such legal harm on the health of the nation. The Hippocratic oath should be recited each time the solons sit down and work their potions and spells into this witches’ brew of stuff and nonsense. In sum, I agree with Jeffhas, in my own way.

  5. If the Republicans were wicked clever, they would go ahead and do what the Dems should have done… open up Medicare to a buy-in by people over the age of 45 and expand S-CHIP upwards to cover up to age 25… and leave in the no cancel parts of the original bill…

    It would be a start anyway and they would make the Dems look extremely stupid for not doing it in the first place…

  6. I had one of those brain flashes the other niter at work.

    I remember reading about Bill Clinton’s health care plan and how the Big Three were about to endorse it but changed their mind at the last minute. Then I thought about the recent strikes in France when the government dared raise the retirement age.

    It hit me.

    If the UAW members health care costs weren’t paid by the auto company they could stay out on strike longer.

    How many times have you heard somebody complain about their jobs but then say they had no choice because the health benefits were OK, not good, but OK?

    The only power we the people have against our Washington masters is to bring the country to a halt Thur strikes but who in their right mind is going to do that when face with the loss of health care?

    The republicans have taken their thirty pieces of silver from Wall Street and corporate America to keep us in vile servitude, Obama, Pelosi, and Reid have done the same.

  7. And so, what is the truth about Obamacare and where does one find it? Both political parties and all of the MSM are spinning their own points of view…how does the average American find out, reliably, what Obamacare really means? What a service could be provided, if someone could tell the truth…..good article.

  8. Wouldn’t it be nice if Single Payer weren’t off the table.

    This is what the unreported story is:

    California Nurses Association
    For Immediate Release
    January 14, 2009 

    First-of-Its Kind Study: Medicare for All (Single-Payer) Reform Would Be Major Stimulus for Economy with 2.6 Million New Jobs, $317 Billion in Business Revenue, $100 Billion in Wages
    Establishing a national single-payer style healthcare reform system would provide a major stimulus for the U.S. economy by creating 2.6 million new jobs, and infusing $317 billion in new business and public revenues, with another $100 billion in wages into the U.S. economy, according to the findings of a groundbreaking study released today. It may be viewed atwww.CalNurses.org .

    The number of jobs created by a single-payer system, expanding and upgrading Medicare to cover everyone, parallels almost exactly the total job loss in 2008.
    http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389×4828848

    God we’re screwed.

    • I am for single payer, but that piece makes a misleading claim imo about net new jobs in the economy that would result from medicare for all. A single payer system would be fairer and ultimately more affordable, but more existing jobs would be lost than new ones created (there would be a variance in the types of jobs). This is what makes single payer difficult to push through during a recession.

  9. I recently had a lengthy stay in a hospital I’m sorry to report. I did have good nursing care but one thing everybody was talking about and shared with me was the employment situation of the nurses. Seems most of my nurses were “visiting nurses”. They had come from all over the country! The regular nursing staff had been cut for these visitors. The “visitiing nurses” shared with me their wonderful situation. They were being paid $90 an hour, their moving expenses had been paid for, their living arrangements had been paid for before they arrived.
    Now, I happen to go to a school (I am the oldest student there). When I was doing orientation for classes, a counselor asked who was interested in Nursing. Almost all the young folk raised their hands. They were told to forget it. That our area had a glut of nurses and that they would not be accepted into a nursing program because of the glut and they should choose another program.
    While in the hospital, I kept asking which nurse was local, etc. They shared with me. The local nurses had been cut from full-time (no benefits now). The visiting nurses had the great pay etc but also no benefits. In other words, all this had been done to keep from paying their health insurance!!!!!

  10. glenn, did you notice the ages of nurses, I am seeing nurses who are in their 70’s and they are not life long nurses, but decided to go into nursing because of the job openings. So they went back to school in their 60’s………….

    Another thing about those traveling nurses, does anyone really check their background? Some of them are whacked out, including drug users.

    The big push is when you call to see your doctor, you get a PA instead of.

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