In the ongoing saga of the Affordable Care Act, oddly referred to by Democrats as the law of the land even as it is amended at will by presidential fiat, we are beginning to understand the extent of its war on jobs.
By CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER
The Washington Post
First, the Congressional Budget Office triples its estimate of the drop in the workforce resulting from the disincentive introduced by Obamacares insurance subsidies: 2 million by 2017, 2.3 million by 2021.
Democratic talking points gamely defend this as a good thing because these jobs are being given up voluntarily. Rep. Nancy Pelosi spoke lyrically about how Obamacare subsidies will allow people to leave unfulfilling jobs to pursue their passions.: Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance.
Nothing so lyrical has been written about work since Marx (in The German Ideology) described a communist society that makes it possible for me to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner.
Pelosis vision is equally idyllic except for one thing: The taxes of the American factory worker grinding away dutifully at his repetitive mind-numbing job will be subsidizing the voluntary unemployment of the artiste in search of his muse.
In the reductio ad absurdum of entitlement liberalism, Jay Carney was similarly enthusiastic about this Obamacare-induced job loss. Why, Obamacare creates the opportunity that allows families in America to make a decision about how they will work, and if they will work.
If they will work? Pre-Obama, people always had the right to quit work to tend full time to the study of butterflies. Its a free country. The twist in the new liberal dispensation is that the butterfly guy is to be subsidized by the taxes of people who actually work.
In the traditional opportunity society, government provides the tools education, training and various incentives to achieve the dignity of work and its promise of self-improvement and social mobility. In the new opportunity society, you are given the opportunity for idleness while living parasitically off everyone else.
The honest liberal reply to the CBO report is that a disincentive to work is inherent in any means-tested government benefit.
Thats why we have learned to tie welfare, for example, to a work requirement. Otherwise, beneficiaries could choose to live off the dole forever. Thats why the 1996 Gingrich-Clinton welfare reform succeeded in reducing welfare rolls by two-thirds. It is not surprising that the Obama administration, which has been weakening the work requirement for welfare, welcomes the disincentive to work inherent in Obamacare.
But Obamacares war on jobs goes beyond voluntary idleness. The administration is now conceding Obamacares other effect involuntary job loss. Last week the administration unilaterally postponed and weakened the employer mandate for yet another year.
But doesnt this undermine the whole idea of universal health coverage? Of course it does, but Obamacare was so structured that it is crushing small business and killing jobs. It creates a major incentive for small businesses to cut back to under 50 employees to avoid the mandate. Your business becomes a 49er by either firing workers or reducing their hours to below 30 a week. Because that doesnt count as full time, you escape both the employer mandate to buy health insurance and the fine for not doing so.
The administration correctly fears the economic consequences of its own law and of the political fallout for Democrats as more Americans lose their jobs or are involuntarily reduced to part-time status.
Conservatives have been warning about this for five years. This is not rocket science. Both the voluntary and forced job losses were utterly predictable. Pelosi insisted we would have to pass the law to know whats in it. Now we know.
To reach Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, send email to email@example.com.