Freedom for the job-locked

Still, it pains me to say Reid has a point. So do other Obamacare supporters when they claim some conservatives are being hypocritical, or at least inconsistent, about the CBO report. Republicans have been arguing for years that the hard linkage between employment and health insurance is a mistake. (It began as an unintended consequence of World War II–era wage freezes.) And Republicans have been offering ways to fix the problem for years. There’s no point in suddenly shouting that “job-lock” isn’t a problem.

But there are some things worth shouting. First of all, according to the CBO, not every lost hour of work is the amateur poet’s gain. Yes, Obamacare lets people keep their health insurance even if they quit their jobs to master iambic pentameter. But the law also raises the implicit marginal tax on people looking for work; the more you earn, the fewer subsides you get. Thus, for many people, the costs of taking on more or better work will exceed the gains. So at least some people won’t feel liberated so much as trapped.

Also, just because Republicans have said that job-lock is a problem doesn’t mean they have to support the Democrats’ solution. I agree with my daughter that she needs a new hobby, but that doesn’t mean I have to buy her a team of lions so she can be a lion tamer.