The announced departure of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius marks the end of a chapter of American history. Sibelius, aside from President Obama, has been the most prominent public face on the signature initiative of the Obama administration – the Affordable Health Care Act.
The question before Americans today is whether we are concluding the first chapter of a dream come true or whether this may be the beginning of the end of a nightmare.
I’m hoping Americans will wake up and see Obamacare for the nightmare it is.
Victory dances are taking place in the “dream come true” camp that over seven million have now signed up for Obamacare plans through federal and state insurance exchanges.
A lot of analysis is pouring forth about what this seven million actually means and to what extent this has anything to do with the claims of what Obamacare was supposed to do – deliver more affordable quality health care to more Americans.
But sometimes too much data and analysis gets you lost in in the forest.
The headline that should be flashing in front of us is that today, well into the sixth year of the Obama presidency, the American economy, once a dynamic engine of growth, is still is a wheezing, struggling, underperforming clunker of an economy.
We should be making a direct connection between this and the imposition of the Affordable Care Act on the American public.
Amid the celebration of the seven million plus have who have signed up, let’s not forget the Congressional Budget Office report in February projecting that Obamacare will shrink the American economy by 2.5 million jobs.
The specific factors CBO points to that will cause this shrinkage of jobs are the exchange subsidies, expansion of Medicaid, penalties on employers, and new taxes on labor.
We don’t have to sit and wonder about the reasonableness of CBO’s estimates. We’re already seeing these factors at work today.
Again, well into the sixth year of the Obama administration, unemployment is still at 6.7 percent, well above what has been historically considered the unemployment rate of a “full employment” economy – 5 percent.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the percentage of working age Americans who are working or actively seeking employment stands at 63.2 percent - “the lowest in three and half decades.”
According to Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellin, “While there has been steady progress, there is no doubt that the economy and the job market are not back to normal health.”
Now, certainly, the American economy is not all bad news.