Politics

03.05.14

Turns Out, Obamacare is a Job Creator

Republicans might want to believe otherwise, but the Affordable Care Act isn't hurting the economy—it's helping it.

The House Republican majority began its reign of dysfunction with a bill to repeal Obamacare. Creatively called the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act,” it formed the basis for their messaging on the law.

“The Congressional Budget Office has said that Obamacare will kill 800,000 jobs,” declared Michele Bachmann during the Republican presidential primaries. “This will be the biggest job-killer ever,” said Florida Governor Rick Scott during the 2012 election season. Likewise, warned the Chamber of Commerce in an ad against then-Virginia Senate candidate Tim Kaine, “Obamacare will…kill jobs across America.”

More recently, Republicans have latched on to a report that shows a decline in the supply of labor as a result of the Affordable Care Act, calling it proof that the law will ruin the economy. “The middle class is getting squeezed in this economy, and this CBO report confirms that Obamacare is making it worse,” said Speaker John Boehner in a statement. And Senator Orrin Hatch declared that the law was “A direct threat to the long-term health and prosperity of our nation, this law must be repealed.”

Now, barring an extraordinary change of political circumstances (i.e. Obamacare becomes wildly popular with Republican voters), nothing will change the GOP conviction that the ACA is a “job killer.” But for the rest of us, it’s worth nothing that since going into full effect at the beginning of this year, the law has had a positive impact on the economy.

Because of its refundable tax credits and new Medicaid spending, according to an analysis from the Wall Street Journal, Obamacare accounted for a “better-than-expected” 0.4 percent rise in consumer spending and 0.3 percent increase in personal incomes for January. What’s more, it’s responsible for a $29 billion increase in health care services, which could have a positive ripple effect for job creation.

To be sure, it’s possible that this is all a mirage: That these numbers will be revised into insignificance, and that—in the end—the Affordable Care Act will be a ruinous burden on the American people.

I wouldn’t take that bet—at least, not with the available evidence in mind—but then, I’m not a Republican ideologue, I don’t need to believe that Obamacare is the worst thing to happen since Sauron forged the One Ring.