Unintended Consequences of Obamacare (With Many More To Come)

If the government were to, somehow make full-time employees more expensive, perhaps through some oh-so-compassionate regulatory move known as the "Affordable Care Act," what might we expect employers to do when it comes to hiring and scheduling? Do they say, "aww, shucks," I guess we'll just have shoulder yet-higher costs in this really crappy economy? Or do they turn as many employees as possible into part-timers? Hmmm ... Maybe I telegraphed the answer.

From the Orlando Sentinel:

In an experiment apparently aimed at keeping down the cost of health-care reform, Orlando-based Darden Restaurants has stopped offering full-time schedules to many hourly workers in at least a few Olive Gardens, Red Lobsters and LongHorn Steakhouses.

This truly sucks if you're a worker trying to piece together the paychecks needed to live a decent life. Now you have to scramble to pick up another part-time job, and neither will come with much in the way of benefits. OK, the feds will have some health program for you through the government-mandated exchanges, but goodbye vacation time and any other goodies that come from full-time status, such as manageable schedules.

Note that many pundits predicted that employers would drop health coverage in favor of paying the $2,000-per-worker fine because the penalty is below the cost of covering each employee. But employers can dodge that fine, too, by moving full-time workers to part-time status.

Darden Restaurants doesn't appear to be on its own in this innovative unintended consequence of the Affordable Care Act.

Analysts say many other companies, including the White Castle hamburger chain, are considering employing fewer full-timers because of key features of the Affordable Care Act scheduled to go into effect in 2014. Under that law, large companies must provide affordable health insurance to employees working an average of at least 30 hours per week.

If they do not, the companies can face fines of up to $3,000 for each employee who then turns to an exchange — an online marketplace — for insurance.

"I think a lot of those employers, especially restaurants, are just going to ensure nobody gets scheduled more than 30 hours a week," said Matthew Snook, partner with human-resources consulting company Mercer.

Of course, politicians will, no doubt, scramble to fix this insidious outcome not of the legislation they passed, but of the errors of the uncaring private sector. And that legislation will, certainly, have no more unintended consequences.

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  • R C Dean||

    I think you have a typo in the headline. "

  • R C Dean||

    Effing HTML/busted preview function:

    "Unintended Foreseeable Consequences . . . .", no?

  • The Hammer||

    I don't get the complaining about Preview. It always works for me.

  • R C Dean||

    When I click preview, I get a blank screen except for my name.

  • ||

    Not unintended. It was explicit intended to get government to run the whole thing.

  • Rhywun||

    The fact that they were even offering full-time hours to hourly workers in the first place seems remarkable - that certainly was not the case back when I worked for hourly wages.

  • Doctor Whom||

    The whole concept of unintended consequences is a teabagger talking point spoonfed to you by the Kochtopus.

  • Hyperion||

    +1, got an lol from me.

  • Tommy_Grand||

    We must raise that penalty, er tax, er non-tax-raise thing legal under the tax power that businesses must pay!

  • Doctor Whom||

    We'll eventually have to switch to a single-provider system: The United States Bureau of Crappy Chain Restaurants.

  • Hyperion||

    Yippee yeah! That means we can all eat at government owned restaurants staffed by public union employees who will demand outrageous tips for abysmal service. I look forward this new shared utopia, comrades.

  • PapayaSF||

    Well, food is more important than medical care? Many people go months or years without medical care, but even a few days without food is horrible, and a few weeks without it will kill most people. Thus, the government should take over all restaurants, grocery stores, and farms, to ensure that nobody goes hungry.

    It's all really very logical.

  • PapayaSF||

    "Well, food" = "Well, isn't food"

  • The Hammer||

    In that case, you've got a spare "is" floating around there.

  • PapayaSF||

    IF ONLY "PREVIEW" WORKED.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    No one should be allowed to eat at any of those places anyway. I mean, unlimited breadsticks?! Popcorn Shrimp? These places should be put out of business anyway just because of the damage they do to innocent people they trick into eating there with their tricksy hobbit trick advertising tricks.

  • Hyperion||

    The subliminal messages in the commercials make people go out and eat this evil food created by evil capitalist who endlessly thirst for more evil profits. Only the pure benevolence of big government can save us from this evil. So stop resisting, comrades!

  • Rasilio||

    All restraunts are Taco Bell now

  • ||

    That movie is so goddamn prescient it's silly.

  • goneGalt||

    You say that like it's a bad thing!

  • Hyperion||

    Do you mean that the consequences in lost profits for businesses will ultimately be passed on to the consumers, or even translate into lost jobs or wages for employees? NO! It can't be true! The dems have promised us utopia under the great messiah who has come.

    No worries, all of these evil capitalist pigs running these restaurants will get mean letters from Sebelius and then they will mend their evil ways and there will be rainbows and magical unicorns everywhere.

    I recommend the Roscato Rosso Dolce vinho at the Olive Garden. I don't drink wine too much, but my wife discovered that one and it is pretty good.

  • Seamus||

    Do you mean that the consequences in lost profits for businesses will ultimately be passed on to the consumers, or even translate into lost jobs or wages for employees?

    Of course the businesses will pass on their losses to consumers, in the form of higher prices, or to workers, in the form of lost jobs or lower wages. And you know why? Because of GREED.

    That wouldn't happen if the government took over all businesses.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Perhaps the part-time food service workers need a union in order for Barry to give a damn about them.

  • Hyperion||

    You are on to the plan, comrade.

  • SEIU||

    Hello...

  • Loki||

    Wow, I'm shocked it let me post that without marking it as spam.

  • Randian||

    You know, Tuccille, I run in some pretty elite food circles and I find that ragging on Olive Garden is something really only wannabe effetes do. True foodies recognize the value in the full spectrum of foods.

  • Hyperion||

    Olive Garden is one of the better chains, IMO.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    I mean slightly different category, but I lived in Texas for years and with a few exceptions, Outback steakhouse generally had the best steaks around.

    Now their BBQ was stupid and didn't deserve to be called that, but they do steaks the right way.

  • Hyperion||

    My experience with Outback was that they were very good the first few years, but the last time I ate there again many years after, I wasn't impressed at all. I still didn't think it was bad, just ok.

  • robc||

    Got to disagree.

    My city has some great independently owned Italian restaurants, so I think mocking the people waiting 2 hours to get into OG is perfectly fine.

  • KDN||

    I agree, though the unlimited salad breadsticks combo is great way to blow two hours at lunch on a slow day.

    As far as crappy chain Italian joints go, Carraba's and Romano's both have Olive Garden beat. But I live in central Jersey so there is really no reason for me to go to any of them.

  • robc||

    Carraba's is right across the street from Olive Garden on my end of town.

    Next door to Carraba's is a Macaroni Grill. Just up the street a bit is a Buca di Beppo.

    All are insanely busy every night.

    Meanwhile, I will go here instead.

  • Randian||

    Carraba's is bad, but Macaroni Grill is OK.

    I hate Buca's insistence that you order "family style". I went with 10 friends once and it took an hour for Buca to properly split the check.

  • robc||

    Make everyone bring cash, make sure one person in the group can do math while drunk, and hand the check to him.

    In my group, its me.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Me too, must be a libertarian thing.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    In fact, I'm BETTER at math when I'm drunk.

  • Doctor Whom||

    I'm the one when a bunch of us at work go out to lunch. I'm told that I'm the only one everyone else trusts. Not bad for someone who is both an empathy-challenged Libertarian and an evil atheist with no moral compass.

  • KDN||

    I just realized that my sentence could be interpreted as either me thinking OG is the best of the group or the worst; I meant I like it the least. I need an editor. I avoid them all whenever I can though: even if you exempt the pizza places with a full menu from the discussion it is still impossible for me to eat at every independent Italian place within 30 minutes of my house.

    Buca di Beppo hasn't made it to my neck of the woods (closest is in Philly, and if I'm spending an hour to travel and $20 to park in order to get Italian food it ain't gonna be some chain).

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Besides, there's the Magianno's in King of Prussia

  • KDN||

    Wrong direction; closest one of those for me is at Bridgewater Commons. Never been though, so I can't comment.

  • Seamus||

    You avoid all editors whenever you can?

  • Hyperion||

    I wouldn't wait 2 hours to eat anywhere, fuck that shit. Unless I can get a spot at the bar while waiting and don't have to drive home. One hour wait is my limit and only for really good establishments, never for a chain.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Please go easy on me. There are extenuating circumstances.

    On my wife and I's first anniversary, the OG was the fanciest place we could afford and walk to. Twenty years later my wife still insists we go there on our anniversary "because it is traditional".

    Also, I don't think I've waited 2 hours to get in there. Maybe though. I tend to get pretty drunk on my anniversary because I know I'm gonna get laid "because it is traditional" no matter how much of a drunken ass I make out of myself.

  • alex griggs||

    Interesting theory on when not to do the naughty: Refuse it on your birthday, anniversary, and other special occasions because it is then perceived as a special-occasion activity instead of a regular thing.

  • Rasilio||

    Agreed, Olive Garden is by no stretch "good" Italian food but neither is it bad and being a chain it is very consistant so if you don't live in a city with a large Italian immigrant population it is quite likely your best option for Italian food.

    Now if you live in Boston, New York, or New Jersey and you got to Olive Garden for anything but the unlimited soup salad and breadstick lunch then you have something wrong with you. In Louisville Ky however it's either OG, Macaroni Grill, or Carabbas if you want Pasta

  • robc||

    Bullshit.

    See my link above.

    Come Back Inn is infinitely superior to them.

  • Rasilio||

    Ok, how is it I lived in Louisville for nearly 5 years and never once heard of that place?

  • robc||

    If everyone knew about it, there would be a 2 hour wait.

  • Randian||

    Suffice it to say, one of my trigger warnings after a few years on the intertubes is some run-of-the-mill dipshit sniffing at "chain restaurants" and masturbating to how much of a locaseasonvore and small business supporter he is.

    Those are the Most Punchable People of All.

  • jdtuccille||

    C'mon. I live in friggin' Arizona and there's a good red sauce joint down the road. It's owned by East-Coast Italians who scream at each other in the kitchen for that full trattoria experience.

  • johnl||

    The salad is pretty good. Kids like it.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    So wait just a damn minute. Longhorn, Red Lobster, and Olive Garden are all owned by the same company?

    How is that even possible, that's like 3 different kinds of food.

  • Randian||

    Zounds! And Chipotle is owned by McDonald's! The Kochspiracy runs deep.

  • ||

    And Chipotle is was owned by McDonald's!

  • Rasilio||

    I

  • Hyperion||

    Small businesses driven out of business and gobbled up by megacorps, the wonders of regulation and cronyism gone wild. It's much easier for the government to eventually take over everything when it is all owned by only a few entities.

  • robc||

    Small businesses driven out of business and gobbled up by megacorps

    I see no evidence that chain restaurants are driving independents out of business.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Watch a single season of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, and you'll see what's driving most independents out of business.

    They're owned by idiots.

  • robc||

    1. This.

    2. The good ones survive and thrive.

    3. Lots of chains cant make it in my city, which is why lots of chains avoid it. But like the indies, those that survive, thrive.

  • Rasilio||

    Robert Irvines Restraunt Impossible is a better show.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    I find it more gimmicky (which is saying something!). Also a bit more repetetive.

    Also also Irvine never seems like he is actually seconds away from killing someone. I know Ramsay's not either, but he does seem that way. Honestly the guy is a great actor.

  • robc||

    That is what I dislike about Ramsay.

    Its my biggest problem with Bar Rescue too, although its my favorite of that genre.

  • R C Dean||

    Nothing like a few episodes of any of those shows to convince someone that they should never, ever, ever open a restaurant or bar.

  • Hyperion||

    I didn't mean that they were driven out of business by chains, but by government regulation.

    My son worked at a few non-chain family owned restaurants when he was still in school.

    He was telling me about how one of them was going to have to close up due to the city demaning that they install very costly handicap ramps and door and do something with their parking lot that they couldn't afford.

    Obviously the big chains can often afford these things while the mom and pop place might not be able to.

  • Randian||

    Small businesses driven out of business and gobbled up by megacorps, the wonders of regulation and cronyism gone wild.

    I hear this a lot, but it's not all that true.

    Simply put, economies of scale and customer-orientation is what causes chains to be so successful.

    A lot of independent restaurant owners are narcissistic and completely clueless. They think owning a restaurant will be a fun little endeavor where they can showcase their own indelible culinary mark and have some friend over for wine, and they lose their shirts over it.

  • Hyperion||

    A lot of independent restaurant owners are narcissistic and completely clueless. They think owning a restaurant will be a fun little endeavor

    I would think it would more likely be working yourself half to death.

  • The Hammer||

    I hear this a lot, but it's not all that true.

    Simply put, economies of scale and customer-orientation is what causes chains to be so successful.

    Economies of scale apply to regulatory compliance and political contributions, too. And you are ignoring the fact that, just like any other endeavor, larger scale restaurant operations have more layers of overhead, too. Of course some independent restaurants fail because of the reasons you cite, but the regulatory and crony environment significantly advantages large corporate entities, as well.

  • GW||

    Offsetting economy of scale is the sheer complication of running a complex business that big. At some point, all of the top down, one-size-fits-all rules that big companies have to use make you LESS efficient than your far more nimble counterparts. Maybe restaurants are a bad example, but it's clear that cell phone companies only survive by limiting competition, because their customer service SUCKS.

    When you have an entire department called "customer retention", something is wrong.

  • BakedPenguin||

    It's much easier for the government to eventually take over everything when it is all owned by only a few entities.

    Yep. The Nazis closed small businesses or forced them into cartels.

  • Loki||

    the feds will have some health program for you through the government-mandated exchanges

    So more people will ultimately end up turning to the federal insurance exchanges. I suspect this is viewed by many as a feature, not a bug.

  • dan'o||

    "Of course, politicians will, no doubt, scramble to fix this insidious outcome not of the legislation they passed, but of the errors of the uncaring private sector".

    I can just hear the pundits... See, more proof that capitalism just doesn't work!

  • Doctor Whom||

    The market has failed. Government must step in.

  • MJGreen||

    Another example of the greedy 1% trying to hurt Obama. If people would just go along with the government's plans, instead of finding ways to benefit their bottom line, things would work out. We're all in this together!

  • robc||

    Now Im hungry...Quiznos here I come (sigh. But its close)

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Chipotle is was owned by McDonald's!

    I thought it was created by Wendy's.

    Googling is hard.

  • Rasilio||

    Not sure who it is created by, but it was owned by McD's at one point. Now it is publicly traded and apparently it has recently fallen from a stock market darling to a dangerous stock to own because their food costs keep going up and Taco Bell is actually fighting back offering more high end "health conscious" options.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Chipotle isn't bad for a fast-food chain.

  • johnl||

    It's very good for fast food.

  • The Hammer||

    Fortunately for Taco Bell, "Food" costs aren't rising nearly as fast as food costs.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Back in the dark ages, when I was assistant manager of a small-chain bar/restaurant, we got bitched at for scheduling anybody more than twenty five hours per week.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Maybe I telegraphed the answer.

    Maybe you stumbled onto the last few months of BLS employment reports and why U-3 is going down and U-6 isn't budging.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    The Nazis closed small businesses or forced them into cartels.

    Damned efficient, those Jerries.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    It's unfair to blame the president for Olive Garden and White Castle's lack of economic patriotism. Haven't they made enough money with the companies we all built?

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