Debra J. Saunders
In 2010, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi touted the Affordable Care Act as a bill "not only about the health security of America; it's about jobs. In its life, it will create 4 million jobs, 400,000 jobs almost immediately."

A newly released Congressional Budget Office analysis reported that Obamacare is expected to shrink the workforce by 2.5 million full-time jobs by 2024. So you can stow that Pelosi quote in the warehouse of discarded Obamacare promises. Grab a forklift, and you can park it behind President Barack Obama's pledge, "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it."

House Speaker John Boehner seized on the CBO report to bolster his assertion that Obamacare is a "job killer." After he tweeted that Obamacare is "expected to destroy 2.3 million jobs," PolitiFact rated the tweet "mostly false" because employers won't kill the jobs; workers will.

The CBO determined that "workers will choose to supply less labor -- given the new taxes and other incentives they will face and the financial benefits some will receive."

To many Democrats, apparently, that's all good.

Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., marveled that parents who work three part-time jobs now could afford to work two: "They might be able to tuck their child in bed at night ... or go to an activity, which means they're better off."

(To my mind, they'd be better off in an economy that offers more full-time jobs with benefits.)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hailed Obamacare for ending "job lock" -- the term for people sticking with a job they don't like in order to retain employer-based health care.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, however, sees a different kind of job lock. The CBO predicted that the "largest declines in labor supply will probably occur among lower-wage workers." To Ryan, that means the government is dangling incentives for young people not to work or to work fewer hours so that they can continue to receive subsidies; he fears young people will lock themselves from job opportunities that let them "join the middle class."

At a hearing Wednesday, Ryan stipulated that the problem with Obamacare is "not that employers are laying people off" but that when the workforce isn't supplying labor to the equivalent of 2.5 million jobs, that "lowers economic growth."

CBO Director Doug Elmendorf replied, "Yes, that's right, Mr. Chairman." He actually admitted that Obamacare hurts economic growth.


Debra J. Saunders


 
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