Via Glenn, Byron York highlights a new Brookings Institute study that attempted to gauge the redistribution of income under ObamaCare. The headline - the bottom two income deciles benefit, on average, while the top 80 percent of earners experience mild losses.
That is not protecting the middle class. The estimated impact is for 2016 (.pdf), so Dems might - might! - dodge this until the law takes full effect delivers its full impact.
The picture tells the story:
And let's note that this is the average result (mean? median?) within each decile. From the summary:
1. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will improve the well-being and incomes of Americans in the bottom fifth of the income distribution. Under our broadest and most comprehensive income measure we project that incomes in the bottom one-fifth of the distribution will increase almost 6%; those in the bottom one-tenth of the distribution will rise more than 7%. These estimated gains represent averages. Most people already have insurance coverage that will be left largely unaffected by reform. Those who gain subsidized insurance will see bigger percentage gains in their income.
I should add that this report will not necessarily reconcile with the latest CBO report, which got headlines with its projection that lower income groups would cut back their hours worked in order to collect more subsidies. I don't believe the Brookings team attempted to model the slacking effect; from their paper:
We focus on five effects. First, we estimate the likely impact of the Medicaid expansion. Second, we estimate how many and which workers will become newly eligible for employer- sponsored health insurance because of new coverage mandates on medium-size and large employers. Third, we show how many and which people will enroll in subsidized and unsubsidized insurance plans marketed through newly established state insurance Exchanges. Fourth, we measure the distributional impacts of mandated reductions in government subsidies for Medicare preferred provider organizations and HMO plans under Finally, we estimate the distributional impacts of new taxes imposed by the ACA. These include penalty taxes levied on nonpoor people who decline the offer of affordable insurance and on employers who do offer affordable coverage to their employees. These taxes also include new Medicare taxes on capital and labor income of people with high income.
So, here is a plot twist I have not seen discussed elsewhere: per CBO, the work cutback will represent about 1.5% to 2% of hours worked but only 1% of wage compensation, since the cutback will occur among the lower-earning folks eligible for subsidies (see p. 133 of the .pdf).
However, per this Economic Policy Institute chart based on the authors' "analysis of Kopczuk, Saez, and Song (2010) and Social Security Administration wage statistics", we glean that the bottom two quintiles only take about 11% of wage income. So if CBO-projected 1% reduction in wage income falls entirely upon those two quintiles, it is an income reduction of roughly 9% for that group.
I would not take that calculation to the bank, but it is surely something to keep in mind - whether a 1% reduction in national income does or does not sound huge, it is a lot for a group only collecting about 11% of national income (pre-transfers and benefits, presumably). FWIW, Table H-2 from the Census Bureau has the two lowest quintiles getting 11% of "Aggregate Income" in 2012. If someone wants to tell me whether that is before or after adjusting for taxes and transfers I am all ears - their website makes clear they look at both, but what am I looking at? [CBO figures on p. 11 have "market income" for the bottom two quartiles at about 10%, but market income includes business income, capital income, capital gains and other stuff. So 1% of wages would be less than 1% of aggregate market income.
PILING ON: Per the Heritage Foundation blog the recent Fed beige book has lots of ACA gloom from businesses.
In a survey of CFOs the Duke University B-school found that "44 percent are considering reducing health benefits to current employees due to Obamacare".