Conservative wonks are unsurprisingly displeased with these moves. The Heritage Foundation’s Doug Badger, for example, cites the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the ACA expansions and other sources to argue that the subsidies won’t increase health insurance coverage, will increase the deficit, and might discourage work (for both unemployed and employed workers). Many Democrats, again, are doubling down, seeing these moves as the “path of least resistance” in their push to further expand the U.S. government’s involvement in health care.
One can dispute the conservative opposition in these cases, but it’s much more difficult, I think, to ignore the fact that these ARP provisions and others simply throw more money at the social problems identified without touching why those problems exist in the first place. For example, various studies show that rising daycare costs are driven in part by onerous state regulations on staff‐to‐child ratios and worker‐qualifications (e.g. licensing)—rules that don’t exist in many European countries (and many church daycares here) with no loss of quality or safety. These supply restrictions, as the Journal notes, not only drive up costs but also push lower‐income Americans into informal, unregulated childcare arrangements. And now with even more dollars chasing the same restricted daycare supply, further price hikes could be on the horizon (for an analogy, see this New York Fed study on how subsidized student loans increase college tuition prices). The ARP’s CTC expansion also comes on top of other U.S. anti‐poverty programs, instead of replacing or reforming them (as certain other child welfare proposals would do). And, of course, the ACA and Medicaid expansions do nothing to address the fundamental issue of rising health care costs (some driven by Medicaid itself)—thus explaining, as the Times does, why these provisions were “generally supported” by the U.S. health care industry but raised concerns even among progressives that the subsidies simply paper over the systemic causes of the high cost of American health care. The ARP touches none of this.