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American Prospects

Obamacare's Delicious Ironies

April 18, 2013

As the various "gangs" in the House and Senate were writing their immigration proposals, it became clear that to win the support of Republicans, the provisional legal status undocumented immigrants were going to get had to be punitive. No coddling those law-breakers; if they're going to get on a path to citizenship, it had better be an unpleasant path. It had to last for a long time?ten years, in the end. And there had to be a requirement that during that time, you couldn't get any federal benefits like food stamps or welfare.

But this has produced a rather amusing irony. Republicans insist that one of the benefits those with provisional status must be barred from receiving is the subsidies that people of moderate incomes will get through Obamacare to buy insurance. As you'll recall, Republicans also believe that Obamacare's individual mandate is the most oppressive, liberty-destroying policy in the history of the republic; for instance, Wisconsin senator and Ayn Rand acoloyte Ron Johnson said that the mandate snuffed out our "last shred of freedom." So that means that come January 1st when the mandate kicks in, the only people in America who are truly free will be ... former undocumented immigrants. Oh, cruel fate!

And here's something with actual practical consequences. Since these provisional workers are exempt from Obamacare's requirements, that means that a company wouldn't be required to offer them insurance under the employer mandate, which applies to companies with over 50 employees. As the ordinarily nutty Investor's Business Daily points out, this provides a healthy incentive for employers to pick a provisional immigrant (or whatever we're going to end up calling them) over a citizen or someone with a green card to fill a particular job, since by doing so the employer would save a significant amount of money.

How often would this happen? Who knows. But it's certainly nice of Republicans to give undocumented immigrants a leg up in the job market.

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