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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press When It Comes to Bashing Obamacare They Just Make Things Up at the WSJ

When It Comes to Bashing Obamacare They Just Make Things Up at the WSJ

Monday, 23 December 2013 14:20

When people just start making things up it usually means that they don't have much of an argument. That appears to be the case with the bashers of Obamacare over at the Wall Street Journal.

Robert Grady, a managing director of a private equity company and top adviser to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told readers:

"For most of this year, the overwhelming majority of jobs added to the U.S. economy have been part-time, not full-time. Gallup's payroll-to-population ratio, the proportion of the American population working full time, has dropped almost two full percentage points in the last year, to 43.8%."

These are great numbers because they can be easily checked. If we go the Bureau of Labor Statistics website (Table A-8), we find that the number of people listed as part for economic reasons fell from 8,138,000 in November of last year to 7,719,000 in November of this year, a decline of 419,000.

The number of people opting to work part-time rose from 18,594,000 in November of last year to 18,876,000 in November of 2013, a gain of 282,000. If we add the drop in part-time for economic reasons to the gain in voluntary part-time, we get a drop in total part-time employment of 137,000.

By comparison, total employment (Table A-1) rose from 143,277,000 last November to 144,386,000, a gain of 1,109,000. Okay, so we have that part-time employment fell by 137,000 while total employment rose by 1.1 million, how do Grady and the WSJ get that part-time employment is exploding because of Obamacare?

Hey, night is day, black is white, up is down, meet the just make it up crew at the WSJ.

Comments (7)Add Comment
written by Bloix, December 23, 2013 3:33
But Gallup does report that the population-to-payroll ratio as of Sept 2013(for 30 hours a week or more) is now 43.5, down from a high of 45.7 last fall.

Gallup also concludes that the percentage of part-time employees wanting full-time work as of this September was 9.6%, compared to 8.4% last September.

And Gallup says that "the decline in the unemployment rate is actually due to more Americans taking part-time jobs rather than gaining the full-time employment they want."

Can the Gallup numbers be squared with the BLS numbers?
written by joe, December 23, 2013 9:07
Your numbers are from September, they are not the latest numbers. These numbers get revised every month. According to the latest revision, in Sept 2013, payroll to working age population was 46.3%, not 43.5%.

private payroll employment to working age population has increased from 46.03% in Nov 2012 to 46.43% in Nov 2013.

private payroll employment/Civilian Noninstitutional Population
nope, the nimbers are November data
written by Dean, December 23, 2013 10:47

please use the links -- the numbers are for November and these data are not revised.
written by kharris, December 24, 2013 8:06
OK, not exactly apples and oranges, but maybe hedge apples and crab apples. WSJ says "Gallup" and Dean says check to see if WSJ got its Gallup numbers right by checking BLS. You check assertions about Gallup data by checking Gallup data.

The problem here is Dean had a perfectly good reason to object to the Gallup data, but was too lazy or disinterested - or something - to bother. WSJ pretty obviously relied on Gallup because BLS didn't tell the story that the WSJ wanted to tell. That's the right answer. Dean's answer is a mess, and I can't for the life of me figure out why he messed up.
Bash or no bash, "Obamacare" is neoliberalism
written by Edward Allen, December 24, 2013 11:26
Neoliberals like those connected with the WSJ have many reasons for bashing the neoliberal "Obamacare." One goal may be to move the political arena even further Right.

Nevertheless, "Obamacare" is a neoliberal triumph. See this relevant post: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com...amily.html .
Neoliberal = reactionary
written by Edward Allen, December 24, 2013 1:42
Note: neoliberal is a synonym for reactionary. Neoliberalism is a throwback to pre-New Deal times when liberalism and "the business of America is business" went hand in glove.
written by Lance, December 24, 2013 8:19
The USA is the last holdout with market-priced medical care not because of any inherent conservative or free market ideology. Rather, as the wealthiest nation that ever existed we are the last ones who can afford it. Switzerland was one of the last advanced economies to abandon market-priced medical care. It is arguably a greater bastion of conservatism than the USA. Switzerland's women were not granted the right to vote until 1971.

During the debate as to whether Switzerland would abandon market-priced medical care there was considerable concern about how it would affect the major Swiss pharmaceutical giants such as Hoffmann-La Roche (RHHBY) and Novartis (NVS) which was Sandoz prior to the merger with Ciba in 1996. However, it was then realized that the Swiss pharmaceutical giants made much of their profits in the American market.

The reason that no nation, including the wealthiest can allow markets to set the prices of medical care indefinitely is that demand for medical care is inelastic. Demand for a good or service is inelastic if a percentage increase in price results in a smaller percentage decrease in the quantity demanded. Basic economics tells us that sellers facing inelastic demand will continuously raise prices until prices reach the elastic portion of the demand curve. Consequently in every developed country in the world, all goods or services with inelastic demand have their prices regulated by government. Medical care in the USA being the only exception.

sellers face inelastic demand. The prices of all other goods and services facing inelastic demand in the USA are regulated by government. Retail electricity service providers face inelastic demand. Consequently, their prices are strictly controlled by all governments worldwide, including the USA.

The inelasticity of retail electricity is obvious. If Consolidated Edison (ED) or any other electric utility were to triple retail service prices, people might be a little more careful about turning off the lights. Turning off their refrigerators? Watching less television? Not likely. Thus, tripling the price would result in only a small reduction in kilowatt-hours sold. Almost all other goods and services are price elastic. That includes non-medically necessary elective cosmetic and lasik surgery whose prices have actually relatively decreased over time. Medical care in the USA is the only instance in any developed country where any product facing inelastic demand is not substantially price regulated.

Medical prices are controlled in various ways in the rest of the developed world. In Japan, the land of $100 melons and tiny $10,000 per month apartments, all medical care prices are listed in a book, thicker than the Manhattan telephone directory. The prices set in the book are usually less than a third of those in the USA. An MRI that costs $1,200 in the USA costs $88 in Japan. Japanese insurance companies are private as are most doctors. Japan spends less than a third per capita on medical care than America. However, the Japanese are greater consumers of medical care than Americans. They visit doctors and hospitals more often, have much more diagnostic tests such as MRIs. They also have better health outcomes as measured by all metrics such as life expectancy. They also wait less for treatment than Americans do as Japanese doctors work much longer hours for their much lower incomes.

Japan’s explicit price controls are roughly emulated in other countries via the use monopsonistic systems. Monopsony, meaning “single buyer” is the flip side of monopoly. A monopolist sets prices above free market equilibrium. A monopsonist sets prices below free market equilibrium. It does not matter if there is an actual single payer or many buyers (or payers) whose prices are set by the government or by insurance companies in collusion with each other. More competition among sellers generally leads to lower prices. However, more competition among buyers leads to higher prices. In the health insurance industry the beneficial effects of more insurance companies competing for patients are far outweighed by the adverse effects of insurance companies competing for doctors and hospitals in their HMO plans. This was completely misunderstood during the recent debate on health care reform. With health care, more competition among insurance companies on balance results in higher prices...."

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.