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Why Does Olympia Snowe Want to Increase Unemployment for Poor People?

Steve Pearlstein comments on the so-called "free rider" provision:

An equally silly compromise comes from the Senate's "Gang of Six," which seeks to avoid riling the local chamber of commerce with a mandate that all businesses contribute something toward health insurance for their workers. Instead, the centrists would only dun employers for whatever subsidies their low-income workers need to help them meet their new obligation to buy health insurance. Aside from creating an administrative nightmare, this provision would have the perverse effect of encouraging employers to fire, or not to hire, low-wage workers with children or spouses who are unemployed. Republican Olympia Snowe is said to be particularly enamored of this idea. I'd bet a two-pound lobster and bowl of Maine's best chowder that she can't find a labor economist back home who thinks this is a good policy.

That's not an idle gamble. I have not found one person -- not one -- who thinks this policy is a good idea. The fate of the "free rider" provision, which seems to be a favorite of Olympia Snowe's, is going to be almost a laboratory test of whether the policy community can persuade Congress to avert an obvious and completely predictable disaster.

By Ezra Klein  |  September 10, 2009; 12:02 PM ET
 
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Comments

"The fate of the "free rider" provision, which seems to be a favorite of Olympia Snowe's, is going to be almost a laboratory test of whether the policy community can persuade Congress to avert an obvious and completely predictable disaster."

They won't.

And you should man up and identify "the policy community" rather than leave it out there like it's a think tank.

"White House"

Or get more specific and name names of who in the White House is willing to let Snowe write whatever bill she wants, and who in the White House is trying to pull her back enough from taking the bill over the edge.

I'm still interested in what Ezra has to say about:

Baucus Plan Would Gut State-Level Insurance Industry Regulation
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/9/9/779233/-Baucus-Plan-Would-Gut-State-Level-Insurance-Industry-Regulation

It's kind of important when looking at the Baucus Plan and how much of it makes it through to the Snowe Plan. Shining some light on it might help prevent it from coming to pass.

It's a bit ironic that the GOP and Right Wing Noise Machine can throw a hissy fit on things like Condoms in the Stim and coverage of abortions and Death Panels in the healthcare bill and quickly get the Dems to cave and yank them. When there's a serious issue like State-Level Insurance Industry Regulation, where is the Progressive Hissy Fit?

John

Posted by: toshiaki | September 10, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I agree this is not an ideal policy but in the spirit of compromise it may be ok...

In all fairness, having hired many people, I never knew how many kids they had, and could not ask. Most of the time I did not even know if they were married unless they had a ring and certainly not whether they had an employed spouse. I think existing discrimination laws cover much of this territory (or soon will if it doesn't)

Further, employers would always prefer to hire a low wage worker as opposed to a high wage worker all else being equal. The only place where Pearlstein's fear comes into play is at the margin: where the cost of the low wage earner plus the penalty equals or exceeds the cost of the high wage earner.

Not great policy but I wonder if the left should get that worked up about it

Posted by: scott1959 | September 10, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Why Does Olympia Snowe Want to Increase Unemployment for Poor People? Ah, she's a republican. Next question.

Posted by: obrier2 | September 10, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

the free rider provision is a load of crap. Employers should ALWAYS pay more than employees becuase they can afford more. I also believe that benefits should be taxed. If we all have to take a hit then we all have to take a hit including SEIU, Goldman Sachs and all the cadillac style plans out there.

Posted by: visionbrkr | September 10, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

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