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Reality check: Obamacare is killing jobs and disincentivizing work

Written By | Feb 7, 2014

LOS ANGELES, February 7, 2014 — The monthly U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report is in, and the numbers are abysmal. Only 113,000 jobs were added in January, with the unemployment rate dropping to 6.6 percent.

President Obama and the legacy media are latching onto that 1 percent drop, failing to mention the number of workers who have stopped looking for work altogether.

Couple this with the still lingering fallout from the CBO report earlier this week, which upped the estimate of jobs potentially lost to the healthcare overhaul from 800,000 a year ago, to about 2 million jobs in 2017, and we are faced with the grim reality that Obamacare is not helping create jobs, but is instrumental in their destruction.

Democrats and the media were quick to spin this as a good thing, claiming the healthcare law is bringing “freedom” for workers to “choose” to work fewer hours because their job is no longer tied to their health insurance. Republicans and conservative media are decrying the fact that the law is serving to disincentivize work by forcing a person to make the choice of reducing their hours in order to receive a subsidy that he or she would not have otherwise needed if the Obamacare law were not forcing the issue.

Ron Fournier of National Journal is one of this week’s main apologists. Fournier complains in his opinion column that it is not the healthcare law, but the lack of job creation that is the real issue. “Cue the outrage. Republicans initially twisted the analysis to suggest that Obamacare would throw 2 million people out of work. Quickly proven wrong, they shifted their attack. They warned that millions of lazy, unmotivated Americans would take advantage of the law to live on the government dole.”

Then Mr. Fournier needs to explain ProPublica’s report on San Francisco architect Lee Hammack and his wife, JoEllen Brothers. After their Cadillac Kaiser policy was cancelled due to Obamacare, and they were faced with markedly higher premiums and deductibles through the Covered California exchange, they planned to lower their annual income to $62,000 — the poverty level for a couple of two — in order to receive government subsidies.

What of Chicago economics professor Casey Mulligan, who took to the Wall Street Journal back in October to explain just how the Affordable Care Act disincentivizes work.

“A new wave of redistribution will arrive in America on Jan. 1, primarily thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The president’s health-insurance plan forces those who hire, work and produce to pay full price for health care, while creating generous discounts for practically everyone else.”

If we are becoming a part-time society, with less tax revenue going into Social Security, federal disability, and payrolls, then who will be left to pay for everyone else? President Obama often attacks the rich and the “one percent,” while creating policies that would require them to pay more. In reality, what will happen is what has happened in Europe; the rich will find other counties that appreciate their earning potential and do not attempt to suck them dry. Eduardo Saverin, the Facebook co-founder who renounced his U.S. citizenship before the company’s IPO was finalized, is but one example.

Should these verbal attacks on actual income creators become established economic policy, we will see more companies and industry leaders flying the American coop.

So who will be left holding the bag? The middle class, of course — the people that President Obama and the Democrats claim they want to protect. We are the income earners (and a few creators) who do not have the means to creatively funnel our money elsewhere. Nor can we afford — or have the desire — to limit or eliminate our income just to receive a government subsidy that we know we are paying for anyway.

Fournier insists that the Obamacare law is now part of the Great Society programs that are meant to be a safety net for those less fortunate.

“Good or bad, Obamacare is of the same family as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps — government programs created in the industrial era as a so-called safety net for Americans left behind in that economy. At their best, the social programs served also as a springboard to help people climb out of poverty and into the middle and upper classes.”

Why are these policies doing the exact opposite? Even before Obamacare’s implementation, the numbers of less fortunate have increased, not decreased. Why do the actual Obamacare sign ups primarily represent those who were forced off of their perfectly good policies because of the law?

Those who are supposedly left behind, those “nearly 50 million” (according to Fournier) who were uninsured before Obamacare, still have not bothered to sign up for Obamacare. The Young Invincibles, the ones on whom the sustainability of the law depends, represent less than 24 percent of sign ups. On the other hand, you have people being forced into Medicaid who are quite financially able to pay their own premiums, or who do not want the stigma — and there is still a stigma — of being forced onto the government dole.

Mr. Fournier’s argument is proving the conservative case for repealing the law.

If the Obama administration were truly interested in helping people pull themselves out of poverty, then why lobby, market and work to increase the number of people entering the safety net? Why not use that marketing money to give small businesses a tax break, or rewrite the healthcare law so that companies are not afraid to hire full-time employees because of the penalties involved?

These are questions that the administration refuses to address, preferring to use the happy talk of rebuilding infrastructure and creating new kinds of jobs for the global economy. This administration could not even produce a first-class Healthcare website that worked the first time — and they expect us to believe they can do this for job creation?

Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers had this to say about today’s jobs numbers:

“Businesses have now added 8.5 million jobs over the last 47 months and the unemployment rate ticked down to its lowest level in more than five years. But the economy is still healing from the Great Recession and steps are still needed to expand economic opportunity.”

The specifics of those steps are always vague with this White House, but we must believe them when they say they are working on it. The president has a pen and a phone, and if he has to bypass Congress to get things done, then by golly, he will. This is about as credible as, “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan.”

The president refuses to face the fact that Obamacare, along with his other policies — like dragging his feet on greenlighting the Keystone Pipeline construction — are part-and-parcel of the problems with American job creation, and why economic opportunity remains at a standstill. He would prefer to whine, posture, and create bogeymen in the opposition party, than to get out of American’s way and allow the economic and healthcare systems to correct themselves.

As long as the administration has a complicit media to further and support their delusions, Americans will continue to suffer, business will continue to languish, and we will continue to see dismal jobs report such as this one.

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Jennifer Oliver OConnell

Jennifer Oliver OConnell offers witty, insightful, and direct opinion, analysis and musings on local and national politics and popular culture, with occasional detours into reinvention, food, and Yoga. Jennifer also teaches Yoga, and coaches clients on careers and reinvention. You can keep up with what's in Jennifer's orbit through her As the Girl Turns website.