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Obamacare: Better to Be Shot than Stabbed?

by Dave Emanuel, published
“You’re lucky you were shot. You could have been stabbed.”

This seems to be the spin that proponents of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are putting on the latest information released by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). As is obvious from their statements during the past few years, conservatives and liberals have vastly different opinions about the financial ramifications of the Affordable Care Act. However, the latest CBO update has become fuel for rhetoric that takes the conversation to an entirely new level.

Check out the full CBO report here.

The CBO predicts that the Affordable Care Act will result in a decline of as many as 2 million people seeking full-time employment in 2017.

“In particular, the health insurance subsidies that the act provides to some people will be phased out as their income rises—creating an implicit tax on additional earnings — whereas for other people, the act imposes higher taxes on labor income directly. The ACA also will exert conflicting pressures on the quantity of labor that employers demand, primarily during the next few years.”

In essence, workers who lose their federal health insurance subsidies will decide to not work, or not to seek full-time jobs. At the same time, employers will offer fewer full-time jobs as the Affordable Care Act continues to drive up business costs, forcing layoffs and the elimination of jobs.


Also Read: "Media Headlines Mislead People on Obamacare's 'Job Killing' Numbers"


Now, here’s where the “lucky you were shot not stabbed” spin comes in.

According to a number of ACA supporters, the loss of 2 million jobs is a

good thing because it’s a result of people not wanting to work — not because employers have eliminated jobs. That may be a tough sell to the millions of people who are unemployed or underemployed, but that hasn’t stopped Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) from crowing.

"This Republican talk about losing millions of jobs simply isn't true," he declared. "[Obamacare] allows people to get out of the job they're locked into because they have health care from their job. Now there for health care."

Apparently, this is how it will work.

According to Tom Larkin (D-IA), “people now can become entrepreneurs, they can start their own businesses, they can do different things and they aren't tied to some place just because of health insurance." So these 2 million budding tycoons who previously felt locked into a job, because their employers either provided or subsidized health insurance, will strike out on their own because they now have the option of buying health insurance they can’t afford.

While the argument for having health insurance options not tied to existing employers has some merit, it ignores the fact that millions of successful entrepreneurs began businesses long before the ACA. It also ignores the fact that except in rare instances, health insurance has become dramatically more expensive since the ACA was imposed on the nation.

It also ignores the fact that although being shot may be better than being stabbed, the superiority of one over the other doesn’t ease the pain of either. It’s high time for Congress and the president to acknowledge the pain that the ACA is imposing and pass sensible legislation that eases that pain.

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