Updated: March 8, 2014 6:21AM
‘Darlin’, the government’s gonna find out about this house, they’re going to stop my welfare.”
That line, from the 2004 Academy Award-winning best picture “Million Dollar Baby” starring Clint Eastwood and Hilary Swank, defines the entitlement mentality that is causing new headaches for the White House with disclosures that Obamacare will encourage people to drop out of full-time work.
Swank plays Maggie, a boxer finally earning good money thanks to training from Eastwood’s character. She buys her down-and-out mother a house but the mother bawls her out for endangering her benefits. As her ungrateful mother whines, “I can’t live without my welfare,” Maggie insists she will be sending her money.
Not even realizing the American dream of homeownership can trump the addiction of the dole, the beguiling comforts of the nanny state.
In a life-imitating-art moment, the Congressional Budget Office reports that subsidies in the Affordable Care Act to buy insurance will lure 2.3 million Americans into reducing work hours or quitting altogether over the next decade. Success on the job brings higher pay but reduced subsidies. There you have the bewitching logic of the entitlement state: Why work harder when it means losing easy government money?
America long venerated work, but in the Age of Obama, not so much.
Yes, some older Americans might decide to retire earlier now that they can get health insurance outside of a job. But the CBO report said the retreat from work would come mainly among low-wage workers. In other words, Obama administration policy cements a couple of million Americans in a permanent under-class.
A White House spokesman called the flight from work a good thing since people would no longer be “trapped in a job” to buy health insurance. Apply the same logic to people “trapped in a job” by the need to put food on the table. Hmm. Food stamp use has mushroomed in the Obama economy. USA Today noted that the program threatened to cost taxpayers $8 billion under a “gimmick” the administration employed to expand eligibility for the food assistance. That loophole was just closed by Congress.
Maybe the administration is celebrating the disincentive to work for the simple reason that it has presided over the worst economic recovery in modern history. Unemployment remains persistently high, and would be higher if labor statistics included the millions of discouraged Americans who have dropped out of the job market. The labor-participation rate is the lowest since Jimmy Carter was president. Among the hardest hit are young Americans once inspired by Barack Obama’s presidency.
The other big losers are Americans who do work and pay taxes. The Obamacare architects can’t erect generous subsidies without spending, in Margaret Thatcher’s memorable words, “other people’s money.”
A botched website rollout. Continued woes for thousands of Americans with wrong information in the system. Millions happy with their insurance who had policies canceled. Businesses seeing Obamacare limit hiring and investment. Now, a disincentive to work. The failings of this ill-conceived law keep piling up.