Obamacare by the numbers, according to the Congressional Budget Office — labor lost: equivalent of 2.5 million full-time jobs over the next decade; insurance enrollment: down 1 million from earlier first-year estimate; cost: $1.2 trillion over the next decade; number of Americans uninsured: 30 million.
Which is to say: We are spending $1.2 trillion and taking a blowtorch to the work force in order to fund a semi-public insurance system that still leaves tens of millions uncovered. And that’s assuming that CBO has not taken too rosy a view of Obamacare, which it may well have.
There is more wrong with Obamacare than a bumble-thumbed website.
The White House has tried, with hilarious results, to spin the labor-force data, emphasizing the CBO’s estimate that the so-called Affordable Care Act will cost the economy the equivalent of 2.5 million full-time jobs not because there will be a pink-slip bloodbath at Walmart but because fewer people will chose to work, or will choose to work fewer hours, once their federally subsidized health insurance makes the prospect of quitting their jobs less enticing. In the considered view of the Obama administration, that is good news. We are happy to see that the White House seems finally to have stumbled upon the concept of economic incentives — give people less reason to work and they will work less. But the administration still does not seem to be able to get its collective head around the fact that American workers are not just hungry mouths that have to be filled with paychecks: They are people who provide economically valuable goods and services. Those 2.5 million out of the work force may be happier at their leisure, but the economy as a whole will be substantially worse off without their contributions. We could, in theory, simply have the federal government deliver checks to every household and allow each and every one to follow his bliss as he sees fit, but the shelves of the grocery stores soon would be empty. The depth of the Obamacare crater in the labor force isn’t some abstract unemployment rate, but the lost value of the work those Americans would have done.