Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Set us free

Critics of Obamacare were wrong to see the recent CBO report on its job market effects as vindication of their "job killer" claim.  Alan Blinder makes that case in today's WSJ. ("ObamaCare Is a Job-Killer? Not at All")  In fact defenders of Obamacare celebrate the CBO's idea that Obamacare eliminates "job-lock" -- the idea that people stay in jobs they would rather leave because it is their lifeline to health insurance. Many now get a new lifeline and it is via mandates and new taxes.

This is, as they say, "rich".  Freeing people to make personal choices is a great idea. Trouble is that this is not where Obamacare defenders live. Practically all of Washington politics is about rules and taxes enacted to constrain and guide people's choices. The Economist (May 25, 2013) recently brought us up-to-date on the IRS code 
-- Changes to IRS code since 2001 = 4680
-- Number of words in the tax code = 4 million
-- Man-years spent complying each year = 3 million
-- Percent filers paying for help = 89% (excl software = 59%)
-- Money spent on compliance = $168 billion
Why all of the complexity?  Because the code is a sea of penalties and prompts. I am eager to join Alan Blinder and his allies to seize the momentum of the CBO study -- and keep on freeing Americans from the wisdom of their betters.