Paul Ryan is spot on to deride the ACA as disincentivizing work. We need to help people, rather than hinder them, “to get on the ladder of life, to begin working, getting the dignity of work, getting more opportunities, rising the income, joining the middle class.” The ACA, in contrast, “means fewer people will do that.” Conservatives have plenty of proposals beyond just repealing the ACA for increasing the number of Americans who can find work. Abolishing the federal minimum wage will make it possible for businesses to hire more employees at lower wages, as an example. Lowering taxes on the job creators and making up the difference with cuts to programs for the working class will unleash the job creators’ potential to create ever-more jobs. It is clear that an America with as many individuals working as is possible is a prosperous America, because it is by the sweat of our labor that we add value to our nation.
But more than taking steps to encourage work, we need to take steps to stop disincentivizing work. The ACA, Obamacare, is a good place to start. But the biggest disincentives to work lie in the pillars of socialism in America, Social Security and Medicare.
My great grandfather went to work on October 16, 1951 at the steel mill near where he lived in West Virginia. He came home, had a heart attack, and passed away. This is the ultimate in a life well-lived, working up until the day of your death. We should all be so lucky.
Alf Landon, governor of Kansas and Republican presidential nominee in 1936, opposed the old-age pension plan that was the Social Security Act, for its negative tax consequences and effect on employment,
We are told that this $6 will be equally divided between the employer and the employe [sic]. But this is not so, and for a very simple reason. The actual fact will be, in almost every case, that the whole tax will be borne either by the employe [sic] or by the consumer through higher prices. That is the history of all such taxes. This is because the tax is imposed in such a way that, if the employer is to stay in business, he must shift the tax to some one else
Do not forget this: such an excessive tax on payrolls is beyond question a tax on employment. In prosperous times it slows down the advance of wages and holds back re-employment. In bad times it increases unemployment, and unemployment breaks wage scales. The Republican party rejects any feature of any plan that hinders re-employment.
Gregory Bresiger, writing in 2002 for the Ludwig Von Mises Institute, puts it quite succinctly,
The program had another profound effect on American culture: It created the institution of mass retirement. Social Security, along with other modern welfare state programs, encouraged the concept of golden years in which individuals would stop working. Some of the best and wisest people in our society would vegetate; they would do fewer things, write fewer letters, and, most important, work less. Some physicians call this “the theory of disengagement.”
To understand conservative opposition to Medicare, one need only point out our heroes who opposed it. Ronald Reagan, responding to early bills leading to Medicare, insisted that
If you don’t [write your senator in opposition to King-Anderson], this program, I promise you, will pass just as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow, and behind it will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country,” Reagan said, “until one day… we will wake to find that we have socialism. And if you don’t do this and I don’t do this, one of these days we are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free.
Barry Goldwater disagreed on principle.
If Medicare is added to Social Security, it means that an individual could take the money that he and his employer spend on Social Security and buy twice as good a policy to cover everything that Social Security proposes to cover.
The Paul Ryan budget, certainly by cutting programs helping the poor, but more importantly by raising Social Security retirement ages and reducing benefits and by gutting Medicare and turning it into an ACA-like insurance support plan, will not only ensure that more Americans remain in the labor force, but will free up government funds for needed tax cuts for corporations and job creators, so that they will have more wherewithal to employ more Americans and ensure the continuing prosperity of America.