Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Kristi Noem Says She's Working To Save 2.6 Million Jobs. Congressional Budget Office Says She's All Wet.

     South Dakota Congresswoman Kristi Noem keeps flogging away at the Affordable Care Act, along with legions of her Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives.  Yesterday she was on Rapid City's KOTA-TV claiming that 2.6 million workers are "at risk of having their hours cut as a result of the Affordable Care Act."  To head off this--in her own mind--catastrophic occurrence she is among many co-sponsoring the Saving American Workers Act.  The Act would force employers to provide health coverage for workers putting in 40 or more hours a week instead of the 30 mandated by ACA.  Noem told KOTA , "hopefully this will help any employees seeing their hours get cut to have those restored."
     Apparently the feeling is that many employees who are now at or above the 30 hour/wk threshold will have their hours cut back to 29 or fewer so their bosses won't have to give them mandated coverage.  I've been researching this and can so far find no data that supports that conclusion, though I have no doubt that anecdotal instances are out there, just like there is anecdotal evidence to support almost any claim.  Though I have my doubts that this would occur on a widespread basis, I invite readers who have some data contradicting my doubts to send them here.  What I don't get about this bill, though, is that it simply raises the hourly threshhold at which employees could be reduced in order to save employers from having to pick up their health insurance.  If an employer would no longer be able to reduce from 30 to 29 the number of hours to escape ACA mandates, what's to stop him from reducing a 40-hour employee down to 39 in order to accomplish the same thing?  Seems to me it just raises the bar even as it wipes out employer coverage for all those now in the 30 to 40 hour work bracket.  I think this is a way to get even more workers taken out of the ACA pool.
     Checking out the Congressional Budget Office's website, my hunch was confirmed.  CBO's study concludes that the bill is a loser. It says that 1 million Americans would lose their work-provided health insurance, half of them being forced to find an ACA plan on their own, accept Medicaid or sign on to the Children's Health Insurance Program.  The other half, according to CBO, wouldn't get any health insurance at all.  The various provisions involving penalties and costs associated with the bill would drive up the federal deficit by $74 billion, per the CBO report.  Some fix.
     I think we can expect Noem and her fellow Republicans to turn up the hysteria volume on the Affordable Care Act in coming months.  The trend is not their friend when it comes to the economy, which has been plugging along, what with the stock market at all time highs and the nearly 1 million jobs that have been created since ACA came into being.  The job numbers are particularly notable considering they've been added during one of the most devastating and economy-dragging Winters in memory.  I notice that the federal deficit relative to Gross Domestic Product (deficit to GDP ratio) is at 3% this year, compared to 9% in 2009. That's a huge drop, actually. Tax revenues are up significantly over the past few years, a sign of a strengthening economy.  And as I noted yesterday, a Washington Post/ABC News poll just showed more Americans supporting ACA than opposing it for the first time.
     As a Republican I'm chagrined over this, because so many powerful themes that my party can run on have been set aside, if not entirely ignored, due to this mass self-absorption with destroying ACA.  Can I name a few?  You bet.  Dealing with student loans would be a great place to start, considering the effort would be directed at young people.  Then there's immigration reform--remember that?  And how about pushing back a little on the war on coal, which will cost many South Dakota utility rate payers money this year, maybe a couple of hundred bucks/yr per household.  There are others, plenty of them.  I'm sick of hearing about all the ACA-bashing, myself, and wish my party wouldn't be so focused on it as the midterms draw near.
   
   
   

7 comments:

  1. If the Republicans are going to go after Obamacare, they should stand on their principles and go after LBJ-care (Medicare), too.

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    1. I'm old enough to remember the fight over Medicare, anonymous, and it's critics then sound much like the critics of ACA now. They were on the wrong side of history then, and, like it or not, ACA critics are on the wrong side of history now. Here's a nice recap of the Medicare era:http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/19/opinion/19kristof.html?_r=0

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  2. Hi John,

    Roger Cornelius here.

    In addition to your great observations, how will they explain to 7,000, 000 plus ACA enrollees that the Kristi and the Republican Party want to take that away from them?

    I'm guessing that the next enrollment period will be even greater.

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    1. Hey Roger, thanks. Now that you mention it, Pubs might be getting very nervous about millions of enrollees voting Dem. Very nervous.

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  3. Just thought that I would let you know, John, that this evening, I am going for orientation for a slightly more than minimum wage job that I just got. In spite of the fact that I am on medicare and have my own health insurance, the employer said that 27 hours was the most that I could work and they came right out and said that it was to avoid the side affects of the ACA.

    Also, I just wanted to tell you, that after reading your blog now for a month or more, I have finally found something on which we can disagree. You talked about the Republicans should be "pushing back on the war on coal." That is a non starter. The burning of fossil fuels is hurrying the climate change to a greater extent than anyone realized even a few years ago. In addition to that burning coal puts mercury into our lakes and streams and that is a cause of autism.

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    1. Best of luck on the new job, Lanny. That 30-hour threshold would have the same effect on 40-hour workers if Noem's bill became law. All of a sudden you'd see a lot of people working for 39 hours or less a week. Let's hope the 30-hour mandate stands and employers realize that a good workforce is worth the cost of providing them with health insurance. I bring up coal because Black Hills Power customers will be seeing a rate increase of around 10-20 bucks a month because BHP had to shut down a couple of coal-fired plants due to EPA regs. I think turning our backs on coal isn't wise for 3 reasons. First, its abundance is measured in centuries. Second, a thriving coal industry can continue with some promising R & D aimed at cleaning it up (there's some amazing stuff out there). Third, natural gas burns cleaner but its abundance has come about due to fracking technologies that I'm not real comfortable with. I think Pubs can make this case and use it to their advantage. Thanks for the comment.

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  4. John, I have to agree with you on two of your arguments as to the longevity of the availability of coal and the damage done by fracking to get to the natural gas. But as to the rates being raised by BHP&L, one has to put some of the blame on them for not updating their system as they were told that they needed to, some years ago. Some of the blame must also go to the PUC for not doing more to force that over the years, but mainly it has to go on the SD Legislature for ignoring wind, like it was a red headed step child. While Iowa and Minnesota were developing wind like crazy, SD refused to do anything to encourage the development of wind power, even as their Republican US Senator, John Thune was championing the extension of tax credits for developing that industry. South Dakota is in the top 4 states in the nation in the availability of wind to harness. But we are way down the list when it comes to the amount that we have actually harnessed. Force the entrepreneurs to come up with a way to actually make it so the coal industry has a leg to stand on when they claim "clean" coal and it might be doable.

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