Paul Krugman gives us a succinct account of the “Jobless Care Act” flap, which of course we already knew was bullshit. But the Right fell too much in love with their new talking point to let go of it without a struggle. Mollie Hemingway writes at The Federalist:
When the Congressional Budget Office this week nearly tripled its previous assessment of how many people would stop working because of Obamacare, some in the media tried to change the story to one focused on how Republicans were too uncharitable about what this meant for the country and her economy. Obama and his water carriers in the media tried to spin it as spectacular news, really, that simply shows how Obamacare liberates some people to subsidize the lives of others. Yesterday, CBO director Douglas Elmendorf affirmed, though, that the troubled law creates a â€œdisincentive for people to work.â€
Because, you know, we can’t have people not chained to jobs, even if they can support themselves without them, and even if they’d rather stay home with children or take care of elderly parents, or purse their life’s passion of painting portraits of fish.
Never mind that all this workforce-fleeing is happening in the middle of a major â€œincome inequalityâ€ class warfare push by Team Obama. Just set that all aside.
And if Alice voluntarily leaves her job, and Beulah gets hired in her place, this makes income inequality worse how, exactly?
Hemingway seems to assume all these people leaving jobs voluntarily will automatically be put on Medicaid or receive subsidies, which is not at all a given. In fact, my understanding is that if you are eligible for COBRA benefits, which most such people would be, you can’t get insurance through the exchanges or receive a subsidy until COBRA runs out in 18 months.
But what’s really got Hemingway’s panties in a knot is that Ron Fournier (who actually wrote a pretty good column about this) tweeted “The GOP argument on Obamacare has more than a whiff of Reagan-era racial “welfare queen” politics.” Well, yeah, a whiff. Republicans usually are pretty whiffy. Hemingway responds,
Le sigh. Itâ€™s not that some people think creating disincentives to work is unhealthy or unethical. Itâ€™s that theyâ€™re racist.
Poor baby. But I’m going to go even further than Fournier. I say that what Republicans really long for is a return of the so-called “black codes” that former Confederate states passed into law after the Civil War until the 14th Amendment said they couldn’t do it. The black codes took away the freed people’s freedom to make their own life choices and compelled them to work in a labor economy, for whatever wages their employers (usually former masters) were willing to pay them. If a black man chose to live on his own, raising vegetables and hunting for meat as some whites still did, he would have been afoul of the law. And, of course, allowing him the freedom to pursue some other line of work or open his own business would have been unthinkable to the old confederates.
The only difference is that, I assume, today’s black codes would apply to all races equally. So if Hemingway wants to argue that proves she’s not a racist, she’s free to do so. Anyway, Hemingway spends the rest of the article whining that it’s not really racist to think that people on welfare should work instead, and what that has to do with the CBO report is beyond me.