Obamacare by the numbers, according to the Congressional Budget Office — labor lost: equivalent of 2.5 million full-time jobs over the next decade; insurance enrollment: down 1 million from earlier first-year estimate; cost: $1.2 trillion over the next decade; number of Americans uninsured: 30 million.
Which is to say: We are spending $1.2 trillion and taking a blowtorch to the work force in order to fund a semi-public insurance system that still leaves tens of millions uncovered. And that’s assuming that CBO has not taken too rosy a view of Obamacare, which it may well have.
The spending largely speaks for itself: $1.2 trillion is a great deal of money. The CBO still holds out the possibility that the expenses associated with the program may yet outweigh the cost of its benefits, meaning merely that that $1.2 trillion in spending will be accompanied by approximately $1.2 trillion in taxes, or slightly more. “Revenue-neutral” is not a synonym for “free.” We are still to spend $1.2 trillion, regardless of the combined ledger impact on our bloated deficit.
Spending $1.2 trillion on what? That is the most galling bit. Obamacare was sold as a response to the alleged emergency presented by 40-odd million Americans’ lacking insurance. That number was hotly disputed at the time, but even if we were to take it at face value, getting the figure down to 30 million at a cost of more than $1 trillion is hardly a bargain.
We are familiar with the phrase “money for nothing,” but had always understood it to denote a positive cash flow rather than a negative one.
We already have begun to experience the effects of Obamacare as they relate to health insurance specifically: canceled policies, chaos in the insurance markets, insecurity for consumers. But the more significant cost may in the long run prove to be its structural hobbling of our economy, reducing the work force and redirecting trillions of dollars away from the productive economy into a system of rewards and subsidies for cronies and political constituencies. The CBO’s increasingly bleak economic forecasts suggest that it has begun to take the measure of the long-term costs of the Obama administration’s economic misgovernance, of which Obamacare is one, but only one, significant part. But detailed as those estimates are, they can only begin to suggest the damage.