In his column on the effect of President Obama’s policies on the architecture field, Jamelle Bouie writes that “as a profession, architecture has been in a tough spot for the last four years.” He notes that “unemployment for experienced architecture college graduates is 9.2 percent … compared to 4.1 percent for college grads as a whole.” And he concedes that the administration’s response to the housing crisis has been “lackluster.” Despite this record, Bouie oddly insists, “it’s clear that the profession would be best served by a continuation of the path set by the Obama administration.”
Among the reasons Bouie gives for re-electing Obama is his healthcare law. Yet in reality, the law would be devastating for architects. According to 2012 AIA estimates, “almost a quarter of architecture firms are sole practitioners.” Under the healthcare law, all of these individuals would be required to purchase health insurance, and those earning more than $44,680 would not qualify for any government assistance to do so.
Furthermore, they won’t have the freedom to choose what type of insurance they want because the law also dictates the type of benefits each insurance policy has to contain. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that this effect would drive up the cost of premiums by 10 percent to 13 percent in 2016 (boosting the annual cost of an individual policy to $5,800 and a family policy to $15,200). Those who choose to go without an expensive insurance policy will have to pay a tax penalty of at least $695.
The AIA also found that one-third of architects work at firms with more than 50 employees. Yet, if the healthcare law doesn’t get repealed, those firms will have to offer a government-approved insurance policy to every employee, or pay a $2,000 fine on every worker beyond the first 30 employees. This will discourage firms from hiring, prompt them to defer salary increases, or force them to impose some other combination of cost-cutting measures.
Bouie warns that Romney is “the leader of the Republican Party, which has little interest in government as a proactive tool for improving the economy.” If the healthcare law is an example of proactive government, architects should welcome such a change.