Has Obamacare Enriched Americans?

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There is a young journalist fresh out of college who writes for Huff Post Business. His recent post bears the catchy title “Obamacare Just Made Americans Richer Without Anyone Noticing”. His post relies on a Wall Street Journal blog making the same point.

All the numbers involved are very iffy, and there is no way short of a very involved study to get empirical evidence that convincingly shows that Obamacare has made Americans richer or poorer. But at least within its very simple context, the WSJ blog notes

“The payments are categorized as ‘transfer receipts.’ That is, the money is transferred from one household to another via government taxes.”

Naturally, if one counts income attributable to Obamacare as a positive cash flow and doesn’t count increased taxes as a negative cash flow, one can write a glowing but false headline.

The Huff Post blog doesn’t mention the important tax offset that the WSJ blog included.

Never mind empirical work. If you shift your cash from your handbag to your bra, or from your left pocket to your right pocket, does that make you richer?

If you scoop water from the faucet end of a bathtub and drop it at the other end, does the level of water in the bathtub rise?

If the police seize a house from a drug dealer, is society made richer?

10:14 am on March 6, 2014