Liberally yours: Will Obamacare make America happier?

Thom Hartmann Host, the Thom Hartmann Program
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Conservative heads were exploding all across the country last week. That’s because the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a new report detailing some of the economic effects of Obamacare. The report projects that by 2017, the number of hours workers in America put in will decline by roughly the equivalent of 2.3 million people leaving the workplace, thanks to Obamacare. Of course, conservatives all across the media yesterday were pointing to that projection as proof that Obamacare is a failure and a job destroyer.

But in reality, this report is great news.

What the Congressional Budget Office has pointed out is you no longer have to work a full-time job to have health insurance. Studies suggest that there are millions and millions of Americans who hate their jobs, but they’re working because they have to in order to have health insurance. They’re stuck in dead-end, crappy jobs with awful hours and they only put up with it so they have healthcare for themselves and their families. But now, thanks to Obamacare, people in dead-end, low-paying, lousy jobs are going to be able to say, “I don’t need this job anymore just because it has health insurance associated with it, and I am going to take a job where I can work fewer hours.”

Keep in mind, particularly with the dramatic increase in women participating in the workforce over the past three decades, a large part of the workforce is made up of parents who have kids at home. And, half of all American kids come home to an empty house after school. Wouldn’t it be great if one parent in those households could say, “Instead of working 8 to 6 or 9 to 5, what if I could work 9 to 3 and be home when the kids get home from school?” Instead of worrying about losing health insurance by going part-time, now parents know that they’ll still be able to qualify for insurance under Obamacare, regardless of how many hours they work.

So, what this report shows is that Obamacare has liberated a lot of people to just say “no” to work they hate. This is the first benefit that the new CBO report has pointed out. But what the CBO report also points out is that Obamacare is going to not cause a loss of jobs, regardless of what the talking heads at Fox News say, but that fewer people will choose to be workers.

So what’s that going to mean?

First, it means that jobs are going to open up for unemployed people and the unemployment rate will go down. Second, it means that America is going to get happier. You’re going to have fewer people stressed out by working too many hours at jobs they hate, which means fewer people beating up their kids, fewer people committing suicide, and fewer people getting divorces because of the workplace stress they bring home.

Third, what happens when two million people drop out of the workforce? The labor market tightens up, and wages go up. When wages go up, the middle-class grows, standards of living increase, tax collection goes up which means our nation’s budget deficit goes down, and the increased wages get spend into the marketplace which drives demand and stimulates the economy. That will lead to even more jobs, as employers have to hire more people to meet the needs of the reinvigorated economy. These are all good things.

And because almost all of those workers who are overworked and hate their jobs are making relatively low wages, virtually 100 percent of them are paying Social Security and Medicare on all of their income, so income to the Social Security program is going to go up and Social Security is going to be strengthened. In fact, general tax revenues will go up, reducing the budget deficit.

This is all great news. So why are conservatives flipping out?