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Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Obama: "Absolutely" Doesn't Regret Focusing On Obamacare Over Economy"

Discussing President Obama’s interview with the Des Moines Register yesterday, The Wall Street Journal editors write, “[T]he larger reason to be skeptical [about Obama’s promises for the future] concerns Mr. Obama's answer to another Register question: Whether he regrets pursuing ObamaCare and other liberal social priorities in his first two years rather than focusing on the economy. ‘Absolutely not,’ Mr. Obama told the Iowa journalists. ‘Remember the context. First of all, Mitch McConnell has imposed an ironclad filibuster from the first day I was in office. And that's not speculation.’ Whoaaaa there, big fella. Mr. McConnell was then and still is the Senate Minority Leader, and in 2009 he had all of 40 votes. Mr. Obama could have pursued any agenda he wanted, and the Des Moines editors wanted to know why he didn't focus on the economy first. Yet Mr. Obama's instinctive reaction is to blame Republican obstructionism that never happened. . . . By spring 2009, when Minnesota's Al Franken was seated, the White House had 60 votes and a GOP-only filibuster wasn't even possible. ‘We have the votes. F—‘em,’ declared then-Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, according to the first-100-days chapters of Bob Woodward's new book.”

Further, the WSJ editors explain, “The President is also missing the larger import of the Register's question. As Mr. Obama likes to remind voters now, in 2009 the economy had suffered a financial heart attack and needed to be nurtured back to health. That required careful management and attention to reviving consumer and business confidence. Yet rather than work with both parties to fashion a growth agenda, he went all-in for a Keynesian spending blowout and subcontracted the details to House Democrats. And rather than wait to see how strongly—and even whether—the economy then recovered, he dove headlong into fighting to pass 40 years of pent-up liberal social policy.”

The most effort there, of course, went to President Obama’s massive, unpopular health care law. And as Republicans warned before the law was passed by the Democrat-run Congress, Obamacare is only harming the economy. The Washington Post’s Robert Samuelson explains some of this in an important column from earlier this week: “Just recently, the Internal Revenue Service issued an 18-page, single-spaced notice explaining how to distinguish between full-time and part-time workers under the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). The difference matters, because the act requires employers with 50 or more full-time workers to provide health insurance for those workers. At the same time, no company has to buy insurance for part-time employees, defined as those working less than 30 hours a week. . . . In September, 34 million workers, about a quarter of total workers, were part-time, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the bureau defines part time as less than 35 hours a week; Obamacare’s 30 hours a week was presumably adopted to expand insurance coverage. There are now 10 million workers averaging between 30 and 34 hours a week. To the bureau, they are part-time; under Obamacare, they’re full-time.”

Why is this important? Samuelson points out, “Employers have a huge incentive to hold workers under the 30-hour weekly threshold. The requirement to provide insurance above that acts as a steep employment tax. Companies will try to minimize the tax. The most vulnerable workers are the poorest and least skilled who can be most easily replaced and for whom insurance costs loom largest. Indeed, the adjustment has already started. As first reported in the Orlando Sentinel, Darden Restaurants — owners of about 2,000 outlets, including the Red Lobster and Olive Garden chains — is studying ways to shift more employees under the 30-hour ceiling. . . . The financial stakes are sizable. Suppose Darden moves 1,000 servers under 30 hours and avoids paying $5,000 insurance for each. The annual savings: $5 million.”

He concludes, “[Obamacare] creates powerful pressures against companies hiring full-time workers — precisely the wrong approach after the worst economic slump since the Depression. There will be more bewildering regulations, more regulatory uncertainties, more unintended side effects and more disappointments. A costly and opaque system will become more so.”

Thus, President Obama’s decision to set the struggling economy aside and focus instead on passing his 2,700 page health care law not only took our eye off the ball at a critical time, it has also made things worse economically by creating uncertainty, piling on regulations, mandates, and taxes, and discouraging employers from hiring more workers.

By the way, Sen. Mitch McConnell's response to Obama's accusation is already on record, “Far from putting us on a path to recovery, it’s now obvious that President Obama’s policies have made a bad situation worse. Secretary Geithner was right to say that the President’s policies were having an effect on the economy. He was clearly wrong to conclude they were anything approaching a lasting, positive effect. On the contrary,  . . . the policies of the President’s first two years in office put us decidedly on the wrong path. . . . They act like an additional $5 trillion dollars in debt isn’t affecting people’s anxiety about the nation’s future. They act like a trillion dollar health care bill that hammers the private sector isn’t affecting business activity. They act like the President’s perpetual threats to raise taxes aren’t impacting investment. They act like somehow the President’s attacks on free enterprise aren’t putting a chill on risk-taking. They act like a barrage of new regulations isn’t keeping businesses from hiring and expanding. . . . The President’s policies have clearly made it harder for Americans to find a job and keep it.  If the President wants to cast blame for the economic mess we’re in, he should look no further than his own policies.”

Tags: Barack Obama, Obamacare, the economy, jobs, decreased hiring, Obama's policies, fails o translate To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 12:02 PM - Post Link

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