Obamacare Is Another Private Sector Rip-Off of Americans

The Private Sector Allied with Government is a Second IRS

The government of the “world’s only superpower,” the “exceptional,” the “indispensable” country, claims to know what is best for Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Mali, Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, China, indeed for the entire world. However, the “indispensable” country cannot even govern itself, much less the world over which the “superpower” desires hegemony. The government of the “world’s only superpower” has shut itself down.

The government has shut itself down, because it cannot deal with the budget deficit and mounting public debt caused by twelve years of wars, by financial deregulation that allows “banks too big to fail” to loot the taxpayers, and by the loss of jobs, GDP, and tax base that jobs offshoring forced by Wall Street caused.

The Republicans are using the fight over the limit on new public debt to block Obamacare. The Republicans are right to oppose Obamacare, but they are opposing Obamacare largely for ideological reasons when there are very good sound reasons to oppose Obamacare.

Last February 3, I posted on this website a column, “Obamacare: A Deception,” written by an expert on the subject.

When Republicans for ideological reasons blocked a single-payer health system like the rest of the developed world has and, indeed, even some developing countries have, the Obama regime, needing a victory, went to the insurance companies and told them to come up with a health care plan that the insurance lobby could get passed by Congress. Obamacare was written by the private insurance industry with the goal of raising its profits with 50 million mandated new customers.

Obamacare works for the insurance companies, but not for the uninsured. The cost of using Obamacare is prohibitive for those who most need the health coverage. The cost of the premiums net of the government subsidy is large. It amounts to a substantial pay cut for people struggling to pay their bills. In addition to the premium cost, it is prohibitive for hard pressed Americans to use the policies because of the deductibles and co-pays. For the very poor, who are thrown into Medicaid systems, any assets they might have, such as a home, are subject to confiscation to cover their Medicaid bills. The only people other than the insurance companies who benefit from Obamacare are the down and out who are devoid of all assets.

This might prove to be a growing percentage of Americans. On September 19 the New York Times on the front page of the business section reported what I have reported for years: that real median family incomes in the US are where they were a quarter of a century ago. In other words, in a quarter of a century there has been no income growth for the median American family.

In 2013 payroll employment is below where it was six years ago. During 2013 most of the new jobs, barely sufficient to stay even with population growth and insufficient to recover the job loss from the recession, have been part-time jobs that do not provide any discretionary income with which to drive a consumer economy.

Obamacare has resulted in the health insurance companies, who thought that they would be living in high profits from the mandated health coverage, being outsmarted by employers, who have reduced their full-time workers to part-time in order to avoid Obamacare’s requirement to provide health coverage to those employees who work 30 hours a week or more.

Employers can get away with this, because jobs are hard to find. The lack of employment opportunities results in Americans with engineering degrees working as retail sales clerks and as shelf stockers in Walmart and Home Depot. Despite the abundance of unemployed and under-employed American technical and engineering workers, the large corporations lobby Congress for more H-1B visas to bring in lowly paid foreigners with the argument that there is a shortage of qualified Americans for technical work.

As I have pointed out so many times, if there were a shortage of engineering and technical workers, salaries would be rising, not falling.

For millions of employees, Obamacare means cut hours and less take home pay plus out-of-pocket expenses to purchase an Obamacare health policy. For most people covered by Obamacare, this is a lose-lose situation.

It is also a lose-lose situation for the vast majority of the young. Most young people, unless they have jobs that provide health coverage, do without it, because the chances of the young having heart attacks, cancer, and other serious health problems is low.

Obamacare, however, requires the healthy young to pay premiums for coverage or to pay a penalty to the IRS.

In my day this might not have been a problem. However, today there are few jobs for the young that pay enough to have an independent existence. The monthly payroll jobs reports do not show well-paying jobs. The Labor Department’s projections of future jobs are not jobs that pay well. For the youth, it seems that the penalty is less than the premium, so youthful penalties paid out of waitress and bartender tips will subsidize the unusable Obamacare health policies for the poor adults who are not thrown into Medicaid, which confiscates their assets, if any.

Obamacare benefits only two classes of people. It benefits employers who drop their employees working hours below the hours specified for Obamacare coverage, and it benefits the insurance companies or the IRS who collect the premiums and penalties.

Many of the people who pay the premiums won’t be able to use the policies because of co-pays and deductions.

The very poor with no assets might receive health care if they reside in states that accept the Medicaid provisions of Obamacare.

In 21st century America, the few people who have experienced income gains are the executives and shareholders of firms who offshored their production for US markets, Wall Street which makes bets covered by the Federal Reserve, and the military-security complex which has been enriched by the neoconservatives’ wars.

Every other American has lost.

# # # #

Paul Craig Roberts, Boiling Frogs Post contributing author, is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He has been reporting on executive branch and cases of prosecutorial abuse for two decades. He has written or co-written eight books, contributed chapters to numerous books, and has published many articles in journals of scholarship. Mr. Roberts has testified before congressional committees on 30 occasions on issues of economic policy, and has been a critic of both Democratic and Republican administrations. You can visit his website here.

© PaulCraigRoberts.org


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Comments

  1. avatar guitarman says:

    Amazing there is no critism of Republicans in this article, in fact support that they oppose the ACA. No, it is not right that the Republicans blackmail and have the government shut down because they oppose it. The bill passed in March 2010, the time for debate is well over. Whether any of the right wing predictions mentioned in this article are to come true certainly remains to be seen. America’s healthcare system is completely broken and the manufactured uproar to any change or reform in the system by the right is truly disgusting. No one really knows how well this is going to work until the end of 2014 since it doesn’t become effective until Jan 1, 2014.

    Roberts should stick to articles about US foreign policy – those are usually very good. I don’t want to come to Boiling Frogs Post to read right-wing talking points about the Affordable Care Act.

  2. @guitarman:

    Do you really think that the sentiment about the ACA in this article is “Right-Wing”? Ever heard of Ralph Nader? I think he probably would agree with most of it. Can you find anything in this article that Nader would disagree with?

    In fact, I think that the ACA IS Right-Wing, more than anything.

    Here is PCR’s criticism of the Republicans, specifically:
    “The Republicans are right to oppose Obamacare, but they are opposing Obamacare largely for ideological reasons when there are very good sound reasons to oppose Obamacare.”

    IMO, anyone identifying with the Left should appreciate this article. It shouldn’t need to attack a single side of this coin we call a Two-Party Fascist Corporatocracy.

  3. Guitarman: Strangely enough, I read Dr. Roberts’ piece as mostly if anything a left-wing critique of the Affordable Care Act: he clearly supports a single-payer system “like the rest of the world has.” The problem with “Obamacare” is that it’s a giveaway to private insurance companies and does little to reduce the overall cost of health care, which a single payer system would have had a much better chance of doing.

    This is a left-wing analysis that nonetheless recognizes some of the real market distortions (e.g., cutting employee hours below the 30 a week trigger) that take place because Obama’s plan does not socialize health care ENOUGH.

    A right-wing critique would simply argue there’s no government role in health care, or that the less intervention the better. Do you hear any right-wing pundits worrying with a straight face about the effects of the plan on the indigent, as Dr. Roberts does?

  4. Ah xicha you beat me to it!

  5. Is it Right-Wing to complain about financial deregulation?

  6. Thanks john! Good to hear you saw through the confusion. You know, sometimes I think it’s on purpose ;) Like, I know I’m for something because the Republicans don’t like it. And they’re really really honest.

  7. @Xicha & John: Exactly. Dr. Roberts is effectively attacking this mockery of empowering the large insurance corporations under the guise of ‘semi national healthcare.’

    Take look at the models in NZ or AU. The insurance companies ain’t got nothing to do with the national healthcare. Nada. That’s called ‘National healthcare’ and is running efficiently and effectively.

    This disgusting bastard is double-dipping: Making sure to empower and enrich the big nasty pharma and insurance companies (and their lobbies & their unethical doctors), yet charging the public, and then come out on the other side and say ‘see. we reformed our healthcare.’

    So sick of partisan ignorance or pretense of ignorance. Sick, sick, sick …and sick!

  8. Please..do not get Sick..and sick!

    you could not Pay the Bill.

    How right you are.
    I am living in Denmark (sorry my english)
    where we have the kind of national healthcare, just like in NZ or AU.

    But these kind of insurance companies etc. etc.
    are beginning to get more power, and the result is
    what ordinary people are left with is a less efficient and effective
    healthcare model and A more Expensive system.

    kind regards from Denmark

    jens

  9. avatar guitarman says:

    Yea yea yea, attacked by every comment. Great, thanks guys.

    I am not defending the ACA as a great thing. I think single payer would be better also. The only reason everyone is talking about this now is because of the recent Ted Cruz publicity stunt and the Republicans using blackmail to shut down the government. That’s what I am critical of. You mean to tell me no one here is critical of that and disgusted by these games that affect millions of people?

    It’s fine to debate the ACA but what’s going on now isn’t about that, it’s a power play by one side and it’s damaging.

    So everyone on this forum is above partisanship that you can’t criticize one side that is doing something obviously horrible?

    Will it make everyone feel better if I say I’m disgusted with both sides and the President which I am? Don’t be afraid to criticize one specific side when they’re acting like complete hypocrites. I’m criticizing the shutdown nonsense.

    Xicha – not cool. I’m way more intelligent than liking something bc Republicans don’t like it. Cute insult but completely inaccurate. Sorry that no one is disgusted by what’s going on right now.

  10. @jin59b, thank you for your English! I always respect the efforts of people to speak a foreign language.

    @guitarman. I apologize for being cute with you, though I wasn’t talking about just you in that portion of my comments. I didn’t give that enough context, but what I was talking about was the constant actions, by each side of this coin (the “on purpose” part), to keep people on their respective lesser-evil team. To keep them incensed enough to feel good about being on the opposing side. I was talking about controlled opposition.

    When you fail to see that the two sides are ever-connected and controlled by the same exact paymasters, blackmailers, and godfathers you do indeed fail to rise above or see the picture clearly. And that, in my book, is falling for the controlled opposition. I am not going to fall for this govt shutdown scare tactic, no matter which side caused it.

    Also, I don’t think your initial comments were simply talking about how the R’s have caused a shutdown. You plainly characterized PCR’s complaints about the ACA as being Right-Wing, which they certainly are not.

    Sometimes I don’t use enough tact. Sorry if you felt personally offended. I will try harder. At the same time, I hope that we can all respect cognitive dissonance as a necessary step to rising above, to learning. It keeps us alive and challenges us to see more clearly.

  11. avatar guitarman says:

    Xicha – it’s fine, I’m just really pissed at the Republicans right now. I’m aware of the left-right paradigm but does that mean the right can’t be criticized when they obstruct and do destructive things because they don’t like something that was agreed upon 3 years ago?

    Maybe the ACA will suck, maybe it’ll be ok, I don’t know, I guess we’ll find out. I’ve read so many things about it on both sides that I’m more confused than when I started. We definitely need some kind of change because our healthcare system right now is horrible.

    I guess it all comes back to where most of our tax money goes and that is to the military industrial complex. We’re involved in like 74 wars and interventions around the world now. Without that we would have plenty of money for healthcare and other social programs from our own tax money. But that will never change.

    I’ve given up on America anyway so it doesn’t matter what I think. I’m trying to figure out what country will be best to move to if I can do it. Even Sibel didn’t like my comment so I don’t want to say anything else. She’s one of my heros so I don’t want her to think I’m a jerk. I lent some girl I went on a date with her bio and still need to get that book back lol.

    Anyway, I don’t comment much. I’m just pissed (again) at what’s happening lately. The less I pay attention the better for my psyche.

  12. Hey guitarman, for the record, I wasn’t attacking you at all, I was just trying to have a conversation, throw in another point of view.

    I’m going to do it again, too. ;-) Can you criticize the right when they deserve it? Sure! Now tell me who up there in national politics doesn’t represent the right. Is Obama any further to the left than Boehner? Obama, at least as firmly in the pocket of Wall Street as any president in history? Obama, whose big health reform act is based entirely on and was written by the hugely profitable private insurance industry? Obama, with his war on whistleblowers? Obama, the Orwellian nightmare police state president? Is this the left wing I’m supposed to defend for some reason?

    I don’t know what kind of farcical dog and pony show the Republicans and Democrats are treating us to right now, but I find it deeply uninteresting. There’s no real divide. Just a lot of smoke and mirrors and distractions. They won’t stay closed for long because if they do, we might just get along without them.

  13. @guitarman,

    Please keep commenting. We need to have these discussions a d I’m sure you’re not alone in your opinions.

    Also, R and D isn’t left and right; that’s the lie. Please consider that they are working together in this psyop on the people. You now have the so called left fighting for the ACA and they will feel a sense of satisfaction when it goes into effect. Immobilized with no good ideas left on the table.

  14. avatar guitarman says:

    John, I’m totally against what Obama is doing. It’s a continuation of the fascist Bush administration. Do I have to say that when I criticize the scumbag Republicans for what they’re doing right now?

    I’m pretty much disgusted with everyone in government and almost everyone else too. I don’t find it entertaining at all. This is a horrible time period to live in and I’m sorry I’m stuck in it now.

    Am I miserable? Yes. Do I like it? No. I don’t see much future in America.

  15. Well, you know, if you’re not miserable, cynical, and paranoid, you just ain’t paying attention!

    ;-)

    I guess I don’t really care what the Republicans are doing because I just assume it’s all part of some charade that the Democrats are complicit in, and the both of them can just go stew as far as I’m concerned. Getting angry at the Republicans is kind of like getting angry at the Harlem Globetrotters for not playing fair against the Washington Generals. I’m sure you know what I mean, two allegedly competing teams playing to the same public and splitting the gate.

  16. perfect

  17. avatar guitarman says:

    It’s a day later and I’m still miserable though a girl online did get back to me. Apparently she finds me fascinating. Wait til she meets me in person, I’m a barrel of laughs. Remind me not to bring up politics. Stick with music and foreign languages right?

  18. Please

    Head up

    and do not despair..

    We are all together.

  19. Here you have Ann Coulter and Alan Colmes, right after the 2008 election, talking about how Obama basically tricked the voters until the primary was over. And how they are both okay with that.

    Ann’s really taking a liking to Obama. She is so creepy.

    Alan is creepy too. He is proud of Obama’s flexibility.

    Anyway, don’t ask me how I happened upon this clip while surfing, after the Saturday Night DJPJ pick.

    Take a look back in time, at this exchange of propaganda, with the knowledge we have now about how the Ruling Class targeted candidate Obama using the NSA. With the knowledge of all the disgusting things Obama has done. To whistle blowers. To independent nations around the world. To any shred left of the Bill of Rights. To innocent victims of drone warfare. To all Americans for taking National Health Care OFF the table BEFORE the debate started.

    Then, look at these two freaky media whores working in tandem; greasing the public’s brain (or another body part) for the explanation and acceptance of the way that Hope and Change is really going to play out.

    (shivers…)

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