The effects of Obamanomics
Robert J. Samuelson’s argument that President Obama’s “ highly partisan” reform agenda has prevented economic recovery [“Judging Obama’s economics,” op-ed, Jan. 3] was wrong on three counts.
First, while the means and methods are open to debate, reforming health care and protecting the environment are bipartisan goals. Far from being partisan tactics, coupling short-term stimulus and financial reform with efforts to reduce the drag of rising health-care costs on the economy made perfect sense.
Second, there is no evidence that health-care coverage requirements starting in 2014 had any effect on the hiring decisions of any business, regardless of size, in 2010. The far likelier culprit in the slow recovery was excessive caution by business and consumers alike following the near-death experience of 2008 and 2009.
And third, since excessive regard for “ business confidence” was a key contributor to the recent financial and economic collapse, some minimal attention to regulatory reform was justified. To suggest otherwise is to bind all political leaders in a Catch-22 wherein business confidence is undermined by long-term threats (e.g., rising health-care costs) and efforts to address those threats.
Fortunately, there’s no real rush to judgment on Mr. Obama’s economic performance, as voters will have the final say in 2012.
By then, Obama’s “partisan” agenda will be recognized as something else: leadership.
William D. Cordes, Washington
Top Republicans, including Speaker John A. Boehner, have repeatedly stated that “Obamacare is a job killer for businesses small and large.” [news story, Jan. 3].
Really? The 2009 federal health-reform law requires employers with 50 or more full-time-equivalent employees to provide health insurance for each full-time worker or pay $2,000 per full-time worker into a health insurance exchange. There are no employer obligations for part-timers. At 2,080 hours per year per full-time worker, that’s the equivalent of paying 96 cents per hour per full-time employee. Since no employer contribution is required for the first 30 employees, the requirement equates to 48 cents or less per hour per employee for businesses with 60 or fewer full-time employees. A job killer? Hardly. How about forgoing an hourly raise of 48 to 96 cents from 2010 to 2014 to eliminate any financial impact on the business?
Doneg McDonough, Washington