February 19, 2014

Sebelius: ‘No Evidence’ ObamaCare Is Anything but the Best Law Ever

HHS Secretary denies recent CBO report on the detrimental effects of ObamaCare on jobs.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently analyzed ObamaCare’s high cost to the job market, projecting that the health care law “will reduce the total number of hours worked, on net, by about 1.5 to 2 percent during the period from 2017 to 2024, 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. The reduction in CBO’s projections of hours worked represents a decline in the number of full-time-equivalent workers of about 2.0 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024.” That’s a pretty clear indictment of ObamaCare, as it will cost (and already is costing) the economy big time.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius appeared to dismiss that report this week, insisting, “There is absolutely no evidence, and every economist will tell you this, that there is any job loss related to the Affordable Care Act.” She added, “I know that’s a popular myth that continues to be repeated but it just is not accurate.”

Sebelius conveniently neglected to mention that the law prohibits employers from specifically blaming ObamaCare for personnel decisions. In other words, a business can fire a worker or reduce hours so long as ObamaCare is not the stated reason, making metrics on its exact cost difficult. The CBO’s projections are based on an actuarial analysis of the law’s subsidies as an incentive to tailor work hours in order to maintain those subsidies.

She also makes an absurdly false generalization of “every economist.” Economist Lawrence Kudlow wrote about the CBO report, and concludes of ObamaCare, “There is no ladder of opportunity here. It’s really a work trap that becomes a poverty trap.” The Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk likewise observes, “The Affordable Care Act has discouraged companies from creating jobs and workers from accepting them.” And numerous other conservative economists understand perfectly well that ObamaCare is destroying jobs.

Meanwhile, Gallup reports that one-quarter of Americans consider “jobs and unemployment as the most important problem facing the country,” making Sebelius’s cavalier dismissal of any negative effects from ObamaCare particularly out of touch.

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