Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON - The fiery debate over Obamacare this week sparked new fears about the harm it will inflict on our economy, jobs and the rising costs of medical care.

They were ignited by the Congressional Budget Office's troubling forecasts of the health insurance law's impact on all of us that raised many more questions than answers.

But a few things became clearer in the aftermath of this week's firefight between the White House, Democrats and the law's Republican


The law will further reduce our nation's dwindling work force.

It will cut the hours worked among many Americans as employers attempt to avoid its employment health care costs. And the vastly inflated enrollment numbers used by President Obama and his administration do not hold up to serious scrutiny.

The White House, whose dishonesty index skyrocketed when five million Americans lost the insurance they liked and their doctors, defended the program. Obama's health care law is "helping labor markets, is helping businesses and is helping jobs," said Jason Furman, the president's chief economist.

That's not how Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) described the CBO's outlook on what Obamacare would do to the U.S. economy in the years to come.

"Today's CBO report gives a sobering outlook on our economy. It confirms what we've known all along: The health care law is having a tremendously negative impact on economic growth."

Stripped of its other economic analysis, CBO essentially forecasts that more than 2 million Americans, who have relied on obtaining health insurance through an employer, will see their work hours reduced or they will stop working altogether as a result of the Affordable Care Act's medical care benefits.

Why? CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf offered this answer Wednesday at the House Budget Committee's hearing that made some Democrats cringe:

"By providing heavily subsidized health insurance... to people with very low incomes... the [Affordable Care Act] creates a disincentive for people to work relative to what would have been the case in the absence of the [law]."

Then Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) weighed in with this jaw-breaking observation: "These changes -- they disproportionately affect low-wage workers. Translation -- Washington is making the poverty trap worse."

All of this opens up a new political can of worms for an unpopular law that has been racked by multiple debacles in its botched web site rollout, shaky finances, despotic mandates, and new Constitutional court challenges.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.