According to The Washington Post, the nation’s unemployment rose to 9.7% in August from 9.4% in July, despite Vice-President Biden’s assertion that the stimulus is “doing more, faster, more efficiently, and more effectively than most expected.” (Hey, if you set the bar low enough, you’re constantly pleased, right?)

Unfortunately, according to a model developed by Dr. Christina Romer, the chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, penalties on employers, as proposed in the Democrats’ health care plan, will destroy as many as 5.5 million American jobs over the next 10 years. In the words of, “it’s always darkest just before it goes pitch black.”

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities points out that “the Labor Department’s most comprehensive alternative unemployment rate measure – which includes people who want to work but are discouraged from looking and people working part time because they can’t find full-time jobs – jumped to 16.8 percent in August. That figure is 8.1 percentage points higher than when the recession began, and it is the highest on record in data that go back to 1994.”

This drives home the point, yet again, that any health reform must reform the tax treatment of health insurance. When insurance is linked to employers (who pay for care with pre-tax dollars), employees’ mobility is reduced and part-time employees are significantly disadvantaged – a situation that disproportionately impacts women and low-wage employees.