The Corner

Job Loss Under Obamacare: A Feature, Not a Bug

Now that the CBO has revised its Obamacare job-loss numbers (2 million by 2017, for those keeping score at home), the Left is obviously in full spin mode, but I confess I didn’t see this argument coming: Job losses are great!

As Andrew notes, according to one Democratic congressman, unemployed parents can “tuck their child in bed.”

Or as the Huffington Post declares, Obamacare isn’t “killing jobs,” it “gives workers a choice.” Here’s Huffpo:

Because of Obamacare, the national labor force could shrink by the equivalent of 2.5 million full-time workers, according to a Congressional Budget Office report released Tuesday. While that may seem like a dire prediction, it would largely be the result of Americans having more choices for how they get health coverage — not the result of businesses hiring less.

How does this work?

The nonpartisan CBO estimates that the Affordable Care Act will reduce Americans’ incentive to have a job or work more hours for two reasons. First, the health reform law offers subsidies to low-income Americans that decline as their income goes up. It also offers expanded access to Medicaid benefits for the poorest workers, which is similarly tied to income. That means that for some people, it may make sense to earn less money through work so they can get a bigger break when buying health insurance. In other words, some workers will decide that having subsidized health coverage is more valuable to them than having more money to spend on goods and services.

I must confess that I’m completely confused. For years angry lefties have told me that welfare (and that’s what this subsidy is) definitely does not disincentivize work, and that heroic welfare recipients will do all they can to get off the dole. Any other view was cruel, heartless, and patronizing.

That argument is no longer operative. Now, work disincentives are not only real, they’re real good. 

Look, I’m all for parents tucking their children in bed at night. And I’m all for a parent choosing not to work when they’re financially able to make that choice. It’s not, however, my responsibility to pay for that choice. Middle-class Americans are not working and sacrificing their own family time so that other families don’t have to work.

The Obamacare scorecard is so far the most abysmal of any major governmental reform in modern American history: We’ve restructured our entire health system largely to place previously-insured citizens in worse health plans and to provide poor Americans with less incentive to work. But, hey, at least the administration has made progress on making nuns pay for abortion pills, so I guess it is a “signature accomplishment” worth defending.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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