Thursday, November 06, 2014


The Wall Street Journal has published an op-ed by John Boehner and Mitch McConnell in which the two Republic leaders lay out what they say is their plan for the next two years. Part of the plan, they say, is securing Senate passage of bills already passed by the Republican-controlled House:
These bills include measures authorizing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which will mean lower energy costs for families and more jobs for American workers; the Hire More Heroes Act, legislation encouraging employers to hire more of our nation's veterans; and a proposal to restore the traditional 40-hour definition of full-time employment, removing an arbitrary and destructive government barrier to more hours and better pay created by the Affordable Care Act of 2010.
(Emphasis added.)

Wow -- the "Hire More Heroes Act." Who could be against hiring more heroes? And the bill did pass the House 406-1 (only my congressman, Jerrold Nadler, voted against it). It got caught up in procedural maneuvering in the Senate, but it has strong support.

So what does it do?
The act would encourage small businesses to hire veterans by exempting veterans who receive health insurance through the Department of Veterans Affairs or reservists covered by Tricare from being counted toward the number of employees required by the employer mandate under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

Speaking on the House floor in favor of the legislation, Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, explained that "The 50-employee threshold has been a big disincentive for small businesses to grow. If they have more than 50 workers, they fall under [the PPACA] mandate, and their costs go up.

"So firms with 45, 46, 47 workers are very reluctant to grow any bigger, but if they hire a veteran, under this legislation, that won't count for purposes of determining if they have enough workers to trigger the mandate. If that isn’t an incentive to hire more veterans, I don;t know what it is."
Oh. So while it provides an incentive to hire more veterans, the incentive is that you as an employer get to deny the rest of your employees health care at the same time.

And "a proposal to restore the traditional 40-hour definition of full-time employment"? What an inspiring phrase! That could have come straight out of an FDR speech! It conjures up images from Frank Capra movies and Norman Rockwell paintings! And yet I thought a lot of Americans already were working 40 hours a week (or more). So what exactly is McConnell referring to?

Oh, this:
Lobbyists push to change ObamaCare's definition of full-time work

Major advocates for private industry are forming a new lobbying coalition to push to raise ObamaCare's definition of full-time work to 40 hours a week.

The effort will combine firepower from major K Street associations prior to an election that could see the GOP claim the Senate.

The groups argue that ObamaCare sets an unreasonable standard when it requires employers to offer health coverage to employees who work 30 hours a week or more.

The House in April voted to change the definition to 40 hours, and if the GOP takes the Senate they're expected to make the healthcare law's 30-hour rule a top target in their offensive against ObamaCare....
So it's another way to deny workers employer-provided health care. And it won't (as McConnell puts it in this Time interview) "restore the 40-hour work week" for affected workers -- it will restore the 39-hour work week, up from 29, as employers squeeze as much work out of employees as they can without giving them health care.

I know, I know -- these were foreseeable consequence of the way the health care law was written. I understand the argument that the law is seriously flawed in this way (and other ways). But Social Security, for instance, was also enacted with quite a few carve-outs, and it's still a worthwhile program.

My point is that Republicans are still awfully good at concocting (and, through repetition, meme-ifying) lofty-sounding descriptors for not-so-lofty policy goals. (They're also excellent at scaring the crap out of voters with deceitfully negative sounding phrases: "death panels," "death tax," etc.) Meanwhile, the health care law itself has a clunky name and a clunky acronym (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or PPACA) -- it's moderately uplifting, but I think if Republicans had cooked it up it would have had a really star-spangled, apple-pie-and-puppies name. Their bill, if we ever see it, will probably be called the Family Doctor Health Care USA Freedom Act or something like that. It'll screw you, but the name will be designed to make you proud to be an American.


Anonymous said...

The 40-hour work week thing is transparently supposed to make you think that Obama is rewarding people for being lazy. This is why I always wish Democrats would say things like "they must think you're stupid," then call out Republican propaganda and bullshit for what it is.

Victor said...

Orwell would be so proud - if he was a totalitarian-and Fascist-loving psychopath.

Four Bs said...

We should just let the Republicans repeal and not replace Obamacare. Let people go back to watching their premiums go through the roof, if they can get health insurance at all. I have been trying to think of ways that I can get personally involved in putting an end to the tyranny that is Kyneck in the state of Kentucky. Because that is what Kentucky's voters clearly wanted when they reelected the guy who says he wants to repeal Obamacare.

Let's have a personhood amendment tacked on to the U.S. Constitution while we are at it. That's what Cory Gardner wants. Were Colorado's women not aware of that after being reminded every day by Sen. Udall? If are too stoned to get out and vote, they need to learn some responsibility by becoming parents.

John Taylor said...

I would agree but for one thing. Republicans are experts on blaming the misery they cause on others.