Kyle Wingfield

Political commentary and opinion from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's conservative blogger

Inequality rose under Reagan, falls due to Obamacare. But be careful which you wish for

How Obamacare reduces income inequality:

And how Reaganomics increased income inequality:

Question: Which of these situations would you rather have?

Would you rather have the one where everyone's income goes up, even if it goes up by a larger percentage for those at the top of the income ladder -- thus increasing inequality? Or the one where almost everyone's income goes down, even if it rises a bit for those at the bottom of the income ladder -- thus reducing income inequality?

Note that, with Obamacare, the two hardest-hit deciles are the third and fourth -- equivalent to the second quintile on the Reagan chart. Under Reagan, that quintile saw income growth of about 8 percent. Obamacare, according to the calculations, stands to reduce their income by about 1 percent (versus before it was implemented). Note, as well, that the Obamacare effect on income even for the only two deciles that see increases is about the same as that group (the bottom quintile) saw under Reagan.

In short, the bottom 20 percent gained about as much under Reagan as they do thanks to Obamacare, but under Reagan everyone else's income went up, not down. And the ones whose income falls by the largest proportion under Obamacare are those in the middle. What was that about growing the economy from the middle out?

Let's be clear: This is pretty much the only way for inequality to be reduced under leftist economic and political theory. When the goal is reducing inequality, rather than improving the lot of all regardless of how they stand compared to one another, Obamacare is precisely the kind of redistributionist policy that's called for.

So, again: Which would you rather have? Less inequality because 80 percent of people see their incomes fall, or more inequality while everyone's income rises?


Note: The authors of the report on Obamacare's impact on income have taken a broader look than just the "money income" measured for the Reagan years; their intent was to also measure the effects of insurance and other benefits, which aren't cash. But this adjustment actually puts Obamacare in a better light than a simple "money income" measurement, so comparing their adjusted figure to "money income" under Reagan most likely puts Obamacare in the best light possible.

Reader Comments ...

About the Author

Kyle Wingfield joined the AJC in 2009. He is a native of Dalton and a graduate of the University of Georgia.