Editor’s note: This article first appeared at Forbes.com
The Congressional Budget Office’s recent analysis of the Affordable Care Act concludes that it will result in the equivalent of 2.3 million full-time workers leaving the work force to preserve their taxpayer-financed subsidies for health insurance.
This is troubling on several levels: In terms of fiscal impact, it will exacerbate the federal budget deficit, both on the revenue side (fewer taxable hours being worked) and on the expenditure side (Obamacare’s new subsidies). Economically, our country will be poorer than it otherwise would be. Work produces wealth; less work means less wealth, and also less upward mobility for those who drop out of the labor force. Politically, as the number of unproductive citizens dependent on government increases and the number of productive citizens whose taxes finance government decreases, the unproductive may achieve a permanent majority—a political hegemony—as happened in ancient Rome with dire consequences.
News of fewer Americans working should come as no surprise with the current administration running the show. Whether it be the unproductive “stimulus plan,” increasing the minimum wage, suffocating regulation, increasing unemployment subsidies (miscalled “compensation”), adding record numbers to the disability rolls, etc., the Obama presidency has been a job-destroying machine from the start, as I noted four years and two-and-a-half years ago. Even as the heroic efforts of industrious Americans manage to keep our economic nose above water, the labor participation rate has fallen.