Elitist lipstick on the CBO pig

Yesterday's Congressional Budget Office report on Obamacare's jobs impact is, in the words of liberal Dana Milbank of The Washington Post, "a game-changer."

The congressional number-crunchers, perhaps the capital's closest thing to a neutral referee, came out with a new report Tuesday, and it wasn't pretty for Obamacare. The CBO predicted the law would have a "substantially larger" impact on the labor market than it had previously expected: The law would reduce the workforce in 2021 by the equivalent of 2.3 million full-time workers, well more than the 800,000 originally anticipated. This will inevitably be a drag on economic growth, as more people decide government handouts are more attractive than working more and paying higher taxes.

This is grim news for the White House and for Democrats on the ballot in November. This independent arbiter, long embraced by the White House, has validated a core complaint of the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) critics: that it will discourage work and become an ungainly entitlement. Disputing Republicans' charges is much easier than refuting the federal government's official scorekeepers.

Yet the Obama administration's spokesmen and loyal media sycophants are spinning it as a positive sign, a portent of the new utopia in which people find fulfillment in less work and more government subsidies. This is elitist clap-trap which appeals to the kind of people who take a sabbatical, but which angers all of those people who struggle to make their car payments, keep Mastercard off their backs, and pay for braces for little Suzie and Johnny.

Jason Furman, Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, embarrassed himself yesterday explaining why it is a good thing that 2.5 million people will leave the workforce thanks to Obamacare, with a performance Brit Hume described as "pathetic." Via The Blaze:

A decline in employment resulting from Obamacare means more choice, entrepreneurship and will result in a more "dynamic" jobs market, a chief White House economist said. He further said fewer people will choose to work because of Obamacare, the same as fewer senior citizens choose to work because of Social Security and Medicare. (snip)

"This is a choice on a part of workers," Furman told reporters Tuesday. "I have no doubt, if for example, we got rid of Social Security, and Medicare, there are many 95-year-olds who would choose to work more to avoid potentially starving or to give themselves the opportunity to get health care, I don't think anyone would say that's a compelling argument to eliminate Social Security and Medicare."

The cold hard facts are that CBO says that the availability of subsidies will induce people to work less. And therefore earn less, and pay less taxes (or get larger earned income tax credits, aka welfare by another name, not to mention Food Stamps, Section 8 Housing subsidies, and all the other taxpayer subsidies available in the new leftist welfare utopia). As Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard pointed out on Special Report with Bret Baier last night, this contention of Furman's directly contradicts the traditional liberal assertions that welfare availability does not induce people to work less. Now they are admitting that people choose to work less when government subsidies are available. And they are celebrating it as liberation from drudgery.

The only problem is that the rest of us remained chained to drudgery in order to support their self-fulfillment. And we get to pay higher taxes in order to support all the people who are taking advantage of our involuntary largess.

Fewer taxpayers and higher subsidies means higher deficits. Jim Geraghty of NRO:

A reader reminds me of Obama's pledge that "health care reform will not add one dime to our deficit."

FACT CHECK: True. Obamacare doesn't add "one dime" to the deficit, it adds trillions and trillions of dimes. (snip)

Obamacare, a.k.a. The War on Work

The White House really thinks that they can persuade us that we will be happier in an America where people who are working part-time quit to accept government assistance, and that those who are working full-time shift to part-time.

Nonetheless, lefty lickspittles like the New York Times editorial page offer breezy assurances of the liberating aspects of the new utopia:

The Congressional Budget Office estimated on Tuesday that the Affordable Care Act will reduce the number of full-time workers by 2.5 million over the next decade. That is mostly a good thing, a liberating result of the law. Of course, Republicans immediately tried to brand the findings as "devastating" and stark evidence of President Obama's health care reform as a failure and a job killer. It is no such thing. (snip)

The new law will free people, young and old, to pursue careers or retirement without having to worry about health coverage. Workers can seek positions they are most qualified for and will no longer need to feel locked into a job they don't like because they need insurance for themselves or their families. It is hard to view this as any kind of disaster

And the LA Times avers:

The CBO projects that the act will reduce the supply of labor, not the availability of jobs. There's a big difference. In fact, it suggests that aggregate demand for labor (that is, the number of jobs) will increase, not decrease; but that many workers or would-be workers will be prompted by the ACA to leave the labor force, many of them voluntarily.

As economist Dean Baker points out, this is, in fact, a beneficial effect of the law, and a sign that it will achieve an important goal. It helps "older workers with serious health conditions who are working now because this is the only way to get health insurance. And (one for the family-values crowd) many young mothers who return to work earlier than they would like because they need health insurance. This is a huge plus."

The ACA will reduce the total hours worked by about 1.5% to 2% in 2017 to 2024, the CBO forecasts, "almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor - given the new taxes and other incentives they will face and the financial benefits some will receive."  That translates into about 2.5 million full-time equivalents by 2024 - not the number of workers, because some will reduce their number of hours worked rather than leaving the workforce entirely.

Anyone with common sense (a group that excludes many academics and journalists) realizes that fewer people working less time means less wealth. That pig can't get pretty no matter how much lipstick is slathered on.

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