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Are too many willfully unemployed?

Published: Monday, Feb. 10 2014 10:45 a.m. MST

Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Jason Furman speaks, as White House press secretary Jay Carney stands left, during the daily news briefing at the White House in this Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014 file photo in Washington, about the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report and the Affordable Care Act.

Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press

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“A society rooted in responsibility must first promote the value of work, not welfare,” President Barack Obama said in his 2014 State of the Union address.

Two weeks later the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on Feb. 4, 2014, projecting that while total employment will grow, the increase will be smaller than it would have been if the ACA had not been implemented, as reported by the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent.

On the heels of the CBO debate in Washington, the New York Times’ Paul Krugman in his column, "Writing of the unemployed," suggests that the long-term unemployed are victims of circumstance and not of choice.

Krugman says that “Republicans justify refusal to help the unemployed by asserting that we have so much long-term unemployment because people aren’t trying hard enough to find jobs, and that extended benefits are part of the reason for that lack of effort.”

Krugman extends his argument to say that the facts are not on the GOP’s side. “And this imperviousness to evidence goes along with a stunning lack of compassion.”

Speaking of jobs, Politico Magazine’s Benjamin Kline Hunnicut attempts to figure out "Why do Republicans want us to work all the time?"

Hunnicut says that for more than a century before 1930, “the average American’s working hours were gradually reduced — cut nearly in half. Labor played a part in these reductions, but they were largely a product of the free market, reflecting individuals’ choices to work less and less.”

He also says that most Americans approved of this trend and considered higher wages and shorter hours part of industrial progress.

Today, according to the Washington Post’s Sandhya Somashekhar "They quit their jobs, thanks to the health-care law."

Somashekhar quotes former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, now president of the American Action Forum, a conservative policy group, as saying, “What the White House wants you to think is, if a person chooses to make less income, they must be doing something that makes them better off. … What conservatives would have you ask is, is it an appropriate use of someone else’s money to put you in that position to choose?”

Carl M. Cannon, writing for Real Clear Politics, says that "CBO’s Obamacare figures just don’t work for dems."

“What the CBO report makes plain is that under Obamacare a huge cohort of Americans will realize they’d be better off financially if they cut back on their hours or quit working altogether so as to not jeopardize their (taxpayer-financed) health care subsidies,” Cannon writes.

Cannon further explains that Americans still in the workforce and future generations will be footing the bill for those who “chose” not to work.

Erik Raymond is experienced in national and international politics. He relocated from the Middle East where he was working on his second novel. He produces content for DeseretNews.com. You can reach him at:

eraymond@deseretdigital.com

@RaymondErik

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