Robert J. Samuelson: Obamacare gives employers reasons to make part-time workers

Published: Monday, Oct. 22 2012 9:03 p.m. MDT

Many companies, especially in the fast-food, retailing and hotel industries, will explore similar changes. Some workers will resent the limits on their wages. Others will think that companies have illegally denied them insurance, even though the IRS guidelines permit much flexibility in calculating who exceeds the 30-hour limit. That's why the IRS notice is so long and complex. Still, some firms will cheat; enforcement will be hard.

The argument about Obamacare is often framed as a moral issue. It's the caring and compassionate against the cruel and heartless. That's the rhetoric; the reality is different. Many of us who oppose Obamacare don't do so because we enjoy seeing people suffer. We believe that, in an ideal world, everyone would have insurance. But we also think that Obamacare has huge drawbacks that outweigh its plausible benefits.

It creates powerful pressures against companies hiring full-time workers — precisely the wrong approach after the worst economic slump since the Depression. There will be more bewildering regulations, more regulatory uncertainties, more unintended side effects and more disappointments. A costly and opaque system will become more so.

Robert J. Samuelson is a Washington Post columnist.

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