Roy Edroso of the Village Voice has a round-up of all the ugly and frequently dishonest right wing attacks on Obamacare after the Congressional Budget Office released a report showing that Americans would reduce their work hours by enough to equal 2.3 million full-time jobs because of it. After it became clear that they wouldn’t get very far with the lie that these jobs would be “lost”—because the hours cut back would be workers choosing on their own to work part-time or retire early—conservatives switched their tune, painting Obamacare as a “handout” that discouraged people from an honest day’s work. This was no surprise, of course. If there’s one position that will always be consistent in conservatism, it’s the position that holds that capitalists should be able to do anything in their power to undercut labor’s bargaining power. Squeezing as much work out of people as humanly possible for the lowest cost possible is possible the first rule of conservative ideology. So of course they’re against this. Being able to cut back at your crappy job where you’re drastically underpaid to maximize your greedy boss’s profits so you can do other things—include, perhaps, go to school or pick up freelance work so that you can get a better and better-paying job—runs against everything that the right holds dear. We’re talking about people who resist even the tiniest raise of the minimum wage. This is no surprise.
Which is why, while they come across as cartoon villains, I appreciated the conservative bloggers Edroso chronicles who just straight up admit that they disapprove of Obamacare because they want you to work your ass off at a menial, soul-destroying job for the privilege of not dying of cancer. There’s a refreshing honesty there that I can work with. More evil were the conservatives who concern trolled, pretending that they wanted to make you work more at a crap job for your own good.
At the New York Times, Ross Douthat worried that Obamacare “might reduce financial hardship while actively disincentivizing upward mobility overall… when a good is providedgratis there’s always an incentive for some people to work less.” Later Douthat explained that there were “people we should want to be attached to the workforce, for their own long-term good and the good of the economy as well.” He didn’t tell us who that was, but we suspect if someone told Douthat himself to shovel coal 50 hours a week for his own long-term good and the good of the economy, he would swiftly preclude himself.
It’s just a straight-up lie to claim that reducing one’s ability cut back or even quit a crap job reduces economic mobility. As noted above, being able to cut back at work is exactly what a lot of people need in order to get more job training or even, you know, go to college. This will also help people with creative or entrepeneurial ambitions that don’t have wealthy parents to cover bills like health insurance while they get their careers or businesses off the ground. Opposition to this has nothing to do with wanting people to better themselves. On the contrary, it’s about keeping it so that people are stuck in their crappy jobs with no leverage to make positive changes.