First, let me be clear about what I’m not saying.
I’m not announcing great news about the unemployment rate dropping, or “job creation” suddenly taking-off.
No, I meant what I said in the title. Fewer Americans want to work.
It’s not that fewer Americans are searching for work. There are, to put it simply, less of us who want to work and to produce, and even among those of us who still want to work and produce, many of us are choosing to work fewer hours and to produce less.
And the reason for this is simple: because of the generous federal entitlements provided in the new “Obamacare” law.
According to none other than the Congressional Budget Office, many of us have decided we no longer will have to work as much as we once did, given all the “assistance” we can get via Obamacare.
This is not just political “spin” or partisan punditry. It comes directly from Douglas Elmendorf, the Director of the non-partisan C.B.O., a federal agency within the legislative branch of our government that employs people to analyze government policies, and consider their impact on the federal budget, and on the economy. The C.B.O. likely produces some of the most objective, “fair,” and non-politicized data that we receive from our government.
Speaking at a little-noted event at the University of Southern California’s Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics, Mr. Elmendorf noted that, outside the healthcare sector of our economy, the greatest impact of the Obamacare agenda will be in the labor market. It was October 22nd, just days away from the big midterm election, and Elmendorf’s presence at this conference, and his remarks at the conference, did not receive nearly the amount of press attention that they deserved.
Mr. Elmendorf stated that, in some cases, Americans will simply choose not to work, because their needs for healthcare will be provided by the enhanced Medicaid funding that is provided for in the Obamacare law. As Journalist Matt Cover noted at CNSNews.com (he was one of few journalists that actually reported on this event), this assessment of Obamacare by Mr. Elmendorf coincides with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s remarks last May. Back then, Speaker Pelosi insisted that Obamacare would allow “artists” to “quit their day job” and pursue their art, free from the constraints of having to provide for one’s self, because the government would now take care of artists’ healthcare needs.
That all sounded so good, right? It seemed like President Obama was making good on his agenda of, as he likes to say in his folksy fashion, “gettin’ people some help…”
But notice the gravity of what Mr. Elmendorf is describing. He’s talking about Medicaid, a social care program from our federal government that is intended to offer short-term assistance to poor and lower income households. And the head of the C.B.O., the individual described as the “top accountant to Congress,” is making the observation that we have, as a result of Obamacare, given increasing numbers of Americans a reason not to work (or to “not work as much”), and to choose instead to avail themselves to a government welfare program.
In short, our federal government has incentivized (some) people to consume more than they produce. And this is a very destructive thing.
Unfortunately, this is also a common thing. When government tells people “you don’t have to provide for yourself, you can instead choose to subsist off of somebody else’s effort,” it is inevitable that some people will choose the latter. And when people make this type of choice, it does long term damage to themselves and their families and to the broader society as well.
So why couldn’t the President of the United States and members of the U.S. Congress have anticipated this problem? There are at least a couple of different answers.
For one, naivety may have been the culprit. In the rigid and ideologically narrow worlds of liberal academia and politics (worlds in which Barack Obama has lived most all of his life), the lessons of history are usually ignored, and the possibility of government welfare programs “failing” isn’t even considered.
It is also possible that less productivity in America may be a part of President Obama’s actual agenda for “change.” If, for example, the President desires to not only elevate the “poor” in America, but also to “lower” the “wealthy” – perhaps as a means of, as he often says, “leveling the playing field” and bringing the “rich” and the “poor” closer together – then Obamacare would seem to fulfill his economic agenda. In this scenario, our nation as a whole becomes less prosperous (which in the minds of many would make for a “more fair” world), yet such a scheme purports to prevent people from “failing” too much, while preventing others from being “too successful.”
So is this an “Obama success,” or an unintended failure for the President? We may never know what is truly in the heart and mind of Barack Obama, but it is bad news for the nation he leads.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.