Federal Government to Pay Medical Bills for Fortune 500, Nebraska Gov. Urges Educators to Support Repeal of ObamaCare, and Unemployment Insurance

Guess whose medical bills the federal government is paying? General Motors, General Electric, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Alcoa, Intel, and Pfizer.

Nebraska Governor to educators: Help repeal ObamaCare or face spending cuts.

Comments (17)

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  1. Virginia says:

    I couldn’t get into the WSJ article about medical bills, but I think the real question is: What companies spend the most on lobbying? I would bet that there’s a pretty big correlation.

  2. Ken says:

    The first item is mind boggling. Health insurance costs are going up for almost everyone — BECAUSE of ObamaCare. And who is the federal goverment bailing out? The biggest corporations in the country?

    What’s wrong with this picture?

  3. Tom H. says:

    Barro may be right. But this is yet another area where there is no possibility that lawmakers are going to listen to economists.

  4. Paul H. says:

    Now we’re finding out why the Business Roundtable didn’t oppose ObamaCare. They sold out.

  5. artk says:

    R.G., those aren’t “fired” employees, but retired employees. I guess you need remedial reading, no adult left behind.

  6. R.G. says:

    Sure artk, Lehman executives are simply retired. You are so smart.

  7. Devon Herrick says:

    Robert Barro has a point. Numerous studies have found a link between unemployment benefits drawing to a close and unemployed job seekers suddenly finding a job.

    Some economists believe we face a problem known as “structural unemployment”. This is the mismatch between job seekers and the skills needed for new job openings. To that I would add a mismatch between where people live and the job openings; and the mismatch between job openings and the unemployed job seekers who aren’t ready to lower their expectations.

  8. R.G. says:

    Individuals can’t even deduct their health insurance premiums BUT the Chicago Sun Times fired employees get 80% of their health insurance premiums paid with Ugly ObamaCare and HCTC (Health Care Tax Credits).

    Yes, fired Chicago Sun Times employees can OPT OUT of the federal taxpayers footing 65% of the bill on their COBRA and OPT IN to an 80% tax credit with the PBGC.

    Same with Lehman executives!!!

    Hardworking American families can’t get a tax deduction for the purchase of individual insurance but Lehman executives get an 80% tax credit – it’s not fair and the American people would go crazy if they knew.

    Kill Ugly ObamaCare / Vote Rubio

  9. Bart Ingles says:

    From Barro:

    “To get a rough quantitative estimate of the implications for the unemployment rate, suppose that the expansion of unemployment-insurance coverage to 99 weeks had not occurred and—I assume—the share of long-term unemployment had equaled the peak value of 24.5% observed in July 1983. Then, if the number of unemployed 26 weeks or less in June 2010 had still equaled the observed value of 7.9 million, the total number of unemployed would have been 10.4 million rather than 14.6 million. If the labor force still equaled the observed value (153.7 million), the unemployment rate would have been 6.8% rather than 9.5%.”

    In other words, if we had limited unemployment extensions to those allowed in 1983, then the rest of the economy will naturally follow the same course it did in the early eighties. Right. And Ronald Reagan will be back in office, the Cold War will once again replace the various Middle East conflicts, and we can all pile into the stock market in anticipation of the Reagan Recovery. And this guy is a professor?

    One overlooked benefit of unemployment insurance to a slow economy is its tendency to “buy out” the least desperate workers, leaving jobs open for those with greater financial commitments including dependents and mortgage payments who require much greater income than unemployment compensation can provide. The result is likely fewer loan defaults and less disruption to consumer spending than might otherwise be expected.

  10. R.G. says:

    artk, this just out – Lehman exec is explaining to the feds why he was retired.


  11. Bart Ingles says:

    Devon, can you point to the pockets of unfilled job openings available to anyone willing to relocate or retrain? One would expect the news outlets to be all over this.

  12. Linda Gorman says:

    Bart, part of labor market adjustment is having the labor adjust its notion of what constitutes an acceptable wage. As long as unemployment benefits are available a lot of people substitute leisure for labor and take what they consider a paid vacation.

    For example, one company I know of had about 250 applications for an open position. They called their top 10. Nine of those people refused an interview. The usual comment was something like I’m taking a little time off but I had to apply to meet the looking for work requirement for unemployment.

    I know a bunch of other people who have gone back to school. They aren’t retraining–they’re getting a basically worthless degree but they like student life and are happily living off the student loans that the government supplies.

  13. Bart Ingles says:

    Thanks, Linda, for responding. I get your first paragraph– I hate the idea of using federal funds to prevent police and teacher layoffs for the same reason– and I agree that unemployment benefits worth 1/4 to 1/3 of previous income is enough to induce some people to postpone working. But the question is whether the number of people sincerely trying to find work is still in excess of the number of available positions.

    I don’t know what to make of the anecdote. Obviously it’s intended to be illustrative and not conclusive, but what does it illustrate? The company had 250 applications for a single position– even if 9 out of 10 were applying merely to qualify for benefits, this still leaves 25 sincere applicants for the one position.

    As I understand it, going back to school is a disqualification for unemployment. There may well be a problem with student loans, but that’s a different subject.

    Anyway, my other point was that it’s worth looking at who the takers are for “voluntary” unemployment. I’m not saying benefits couldn’t be improved, but why focus only on the length of benefits? Whether 26 or 99 weeks is the “right” place for a cutoff, it may also be worth looking at the weekly amount being paid out as well as how it’s calculated.

    There obviously needs to be some sort of balance– no unemployment at all would exert downward pressure on prevailing wages, possibly contributing to a deflationary spiral. Benefits that are too high would impede beneficial corrections in the labor market. It seems to me you have to look at both sides to determine where to draw the line.

  14. Bart Ingles says:

    I forgot to add that if the first 9 applicants were post-college slackers who were able to get by on unemployment, and the 10th was someone who needed the job to stay out of foreclosure, then perhaps the economy as a whole was better off the way things turned out. Or at least the result helped mitigate the undesirable effects.

  15. Linda Gorman says:

    Bart–you ask good questions but the answers are unknowable which is why market processes are the best way to match people who want jobs with those who have them. The example I gave wasn’t post college slackers, it was grown up skilled labor slackers.

    Unemployment benefits were sold as a good automatic stablilizer for the economy. They have, as is always the case, morphed into something quite different. Businesses pay a fortune for state “unemployment insurance.” It is abused left and right. It is common for an employee who is about to be fired to negotiate for being layed off so that he can collect unemployment. Brett Schuneler in NJ is just the latest publicized example of this.

    It is also not uncommon for employees to demand a layoff rather than a firing. If they don’t get what they want they threaten to sue. Most small businesses will do anything to stay out of the courts. And unemployment allows people in whole industries to work only part of the year. I know several in lawn service and skiing.

    The main policy question? Why shouldn’t people be expected to save for their own unemployment?

  16. Bart Ingles says:

    Barro’s essay appeared to be concerned with unemployment extensions, rather than with unemployment itself. And the undue focus on length of extensions was mostly what I was trying to refute. That and the confusion over cause-and-effect thing.

    Whether post-college slackers or grown up skilled labor slackers, either way they are obviously willing to move to the back of the line in return for cash payment. And either way these aren’t the people who are about to default on mortgage or credit card debt, or severely curtail their existing spending habits.

    Save for their own unemployment? Why shouldn’t they save for their own health care costs? Why does NCPA favor health care tax credits?

  17. Stephanie Bass says:

    Its obvious none of those accusing “slackers” of moving to the back of the line in return for cash payment are unemployed or have an abundance of wealth at hand. Many of us that have no mortgage or credit card debt have chosen to live as our parents have and pay cash or live without so that we can be humble in times of crisis unlike those who live beyond their means. I have worked two jobs since I was 14 year old, with some college without any financial assistance, lived through the world of hard knocks until I was qualified enough to make a decent salary to hold one job with long hours. Probably much longer then those of you out dining and traveling living beyond your means via the CREDIT CARD that can not be paid back. Due to an unvoluntary layoff I have found myself on unemployment and welcome the 65% insurance assistance and feel I deserve every bit of it. For even with the cost out of my pocket the stress this has brought has cause and effect on my health, well being and a continued fight of state of mind. My portion of cobra health insurance (which is about to run out) and medications, car insurance, utilities, food and with curtailed spending habits leave me with little to have much of a quality of life. I am humbled, yet discussed at the seeming accusations putting all unemployed in this position. I am willing to work, willing to be retrained and willing to relocate if affordable. I have not had debt until I became unemployed and medical issues caused by stress and will not allow myself to go into further debt over medical bills, when I have paid cash my entire life without loans. Yes this might not have helped the economy but I didn’t charge up my life and cause this crisis.

    So what is going to be done about this? If Obamas plan will assist us, NOT THOSE THAT HAVE CAUSED THIS NIGHTMARE, then lets get it done. How can those of us that have been proud to be called an American continue to watch this country be diminished by the Political and Corporate Criminal Acts of injustice?