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February 19, 2014

PARKER: Once upon a time-ish

It is easy these days to imagine that one is living in a fairy tale, albeit a dreary one.

In fairy tales, as in Washington, things are true that can’t possibly be — and what is not true can be defended by tilting the facts a certain way and catching the light just so.

Objective truth, it seems, has gone the way of trolls, goblins and gremlins, by which one should not infer that Truth has taken up residence in the U.S. Congress.

Cognitive dissonance is a rational response to recent news that Obamacare will reduce the workforce, which is hardly helpful to the economy, and insure less than half of the uninsured — from 55 million down to 31 million.

Let’s see if we can iron this thing out a bit. First, a few indisputable facts:

We are recovering from a recession, slowly. We continue to hope for improved employment numbers, even though we’re now told the jobless rate doesn’t matter anymore. Only about 3 million people have signed up for health insurance through the new marketplaces, well below expectations.

But, says the White House, things are looking good. Hope wasn’t for nothing. And please keep in mind, the economy isn’t a speedboat. It’s a big ol’ ship that takes time to turn around.

Next: A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report issued earlier this month estimates that by 2017, the workforce will be reduced by the equivalent of 2 million full-time jobs and 2.3 million by 2021 — because of Obamacare.

Some people will quit their jobs either because of implicit marginal tax rates that significantly reduce wages and make working not worth it. In other cases, people will quit because their subsidies go down as their income goes up.

We call this disincentivising in the real world.

The CBO’s headline-grabbing news has parted the seas in new ways. Republicans, barely disguising their glee, remind us that they told us so. And, this is actually true. Democrats remind us that those 2 million aren’t being forced into unemployment but have the opportunity to choose not to work. No longer will people have to stay in boring, unfulfilling jobs just because they need health insurance.

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