Is Obamacare Really a Job Killer?

Today Republicans politicians were gleefully quoting the headlines from the latest Congressional Budgeting Office report saying that Affordable Health Care Act is likely to remove the equivalent of 2.5 million people from the American work force.  “See, we told you Obamacare will be a job killer” they were telling any reporter within ear shot.  Look for attack ads based on the report’s headline coming soon to a TV set near you.

What you aren’t going to hear our Republicans friends talking about is the text of the report.  If the report projections prove accurate (and heaven knows how they come up with this stuff), the lost workers will be those who voluntarily leave the workforce or chose to work fewer hours because they will no longer be tethered to their jobs by the insurance coverage that their employment provides.

Some will be folks who would otherwise retire, but were previously planning on staying on the job because they would lose their health insurance if they retired.  Now they can retire with one less worry because they know that they will be able to buy affordable private health insurance.  Others will be the chronically ill who do not yet qualify for disability who have continued to work because they could only secure insurance through their employer’s group plan. They can now get private insurance with no exclusions for preexisting conditions so they can work fewer hours if they chose.  Others will leave their jobs to start their own businesses, confident that that they can buy affordable insurance without being in someone else’s employee.  Hopefully their new businesses will eventually create many new jobs for others.

These are just a few examples. There will be as many reasons as there are people who will be able to leave their jobs or work fewer hours because of Obamacare, but one thing is clear. They will be voluntarily leaving their jobs, not being shoved out of the door.  So far from killing jobs, Obama care will afford people choices that they didn’t have before. And their decisions will very likely to reduce unemployment.  For each person that leaves the work force, a job will open up for someone currently unemployed and there will be one less person to whom the government will have to pay unemployment benefits.  Any national health insurance program which attempts to provide more universal coverage would produce the same result.

There is one thing conservatives have not figured out yet; the public may not be very happy with Obamacare, but an overwhelming majority does not want it axed.  They want it “fixed”.  Conservatives have already lost their fight in front of the Supreme Court and there is little chance that they will be able to take over both houses of Congress and the Presidency in order to abolish the program legislatively before it becomes so embedded in the national fabric that it will be irrevocable like Social Security and Medicare.  The Republicans will probably keep their majority in House of Representative in the 2014 elections and may even have a chance at taking the Senate, but even if they take total control of Congress, Obama will be waiting with his veto for the next two years.  Since the GOP has no one with a prayer of beating Hillary, the Affordable Health Care Act legislation remain in place for at least the next six years.  By then it will be too late.

So the Republican’s only realistic choices come down to two:  Either they can team up with the Democrats to fix the program or admit defeat and move on to other issues.  But since when are politicians realistic when there are political points to be made.  The mention of Obamacare is akin to throwing red meat in front of snarling far right Republican base.  Republicans need their base really riled up to insure that they retain the House and have a chance of taking the Senate so expect the repeal of Obamacare to be the key Republican battle cry during the 2014 elections. What Republican strategists will be counting on is that their ultra conservative base will be too unsophisticated to realize that their key election strategy has no chance of being successful.

Cajun, 2/5/14

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