July 8, 2013

The Wall Street Journal editorial “Part-Time America” may not have gotten all the attention it deserves because of the Fourth of July holiday, but it raises an important point regarding Obamacare that I believe has been underreported.

Despite the mostly favorable coverage of last week’s jobs report, the fine print of the report included the revelation that the number of Americans who want to work full time but could only find part-time work went up by 322,000.  The number of part-time employees is now at an all-time high of more than 8.2 million. To put that number into perspective, that’s equal to the entire population of the state of Virginia.  It appears that employers were already preparing for Obamacare by working to reduce the number of full-time employees they would have had to buy health-care insurance for. Maybe the White House knew for certain what the rest of us just suspected, or the administration had a sneak peek at the June data and realized that the need to delay the Obamacare employer mandate was urgent.

With the employer mandate delayed, the White House has bought itself a year — but what is it about a one-year delay that will make the choice for business any less obvious?  A one-year delay won’t make employers’ choices any better or make them anymore likely to want to take actions that will be harmful to their businesses.

The old adage is, “If you want less of something, tax it; if you want more of something, subsidize it.”  Well, Obamacare creates a big new tax on full-time employees. So what does common sense tell us about that? It tells us there will be fewer full-time employees and more part-time employees as employers work to minimize their costs and vulnerability under Obamacare.

And, oh by the way, Obamacare reveals that the White House adopts a 30-hour week as full-time employment. That’s only a half step away from a government-mandated 30-hour workweek that is the holy grail of rabid socialists everywhere.

With Obamacare creating a drag on hiring, the Federal Reserve signaling that the party on Wall Street will eventually end and the next round of earnings reports unlikely to show much growth, the economy will not only remain weak but also will be vulnerable to getting worse between now and the midterm elections.

All this leads me to my favorite topic of the midterm elections and the possibility of a downdraft on the Democrats’ side of the ticket.  To quote myself: “In politics, what’s supposed to happen tends to happen.”  The party in power in the White House is supposed to lose seats in the midterm elections, and the six-year itch is particularly harsh for the president’s party. I don’t see anything shaping the elections in a way that will favor Democrats. The Democrats’ malfeasance in running the government, combined with Obama showing just how liberal he really is, could be enough for the GOP to have a good November in 2014.  However, Republicans need to remember that we can’t bank on the fact that the scandals facing the White House and the bad economy will do all the work for us.  We should remember what former governor Mitch Daniels said about calling “a truce on the so-called social issues.”

It’s still early, but it sure would be useful if Republicans would start doing their part to put forth a more appealing persona and set of pro-growth economic plans for the 2014 elections.