Samuel Butler once observed, “The most important service rendered by the press and the magazines is that of educating people to approach printed matter with distrust.” Anyone who wishes to confirm the accuracy of Butler’s assessment of the Fourth Estate need look no further than its Orwellian coverage of the recent report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concerning the economic effects of Obamacare.
According to the CBO report, “reduced incentives to work attributable to the Affordable Care Act” will cause a “decline in the number of full-time-equivalent [FTE] workers of about 2.0 million in 2017.” Translated from the argot of the government bureaucrat into plain English, this means that Obamacare will destroy the financial benefits of productive employment for a number of Americans equal to the population of Nevada.
This was confirmed the day after the report was released by the CBO Director, Douglas Elmendorf, in testimony before the House Budget Committee. In response to a question from the Chairman of that committee, Rep. Paul Ryan, Elmendorf issued the following indictment of Obamacare: “The act creates a disincentive for people to work.” When asked if that will lower economic growth he answered, “Yes, that’s right.”
The damning CBO report and Elmendorf’s brutally candid testimony has created a serious dilemma for a press corps dedicated to protecting the Democrat Party from the electoral consequences of its own folly. This problem was exacerbated by the inadvertent accuracy of some early media reports about the CBO’s findings. Even Reuters ran a story titled, “Obamacare to cut work hours by equivalent of 2 million jobs: CBO.”
Within a few hours, however, the hard-hitting journalists of the legacy media used their virtuosic investigative skills to uncover the real truth behind the report. This produced a variety of “never mind” stories. Typical of these was a piece titled, “Why the CBO report on Obamacare is good news,” in which Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times explained that the unfortunate misunderstanding was caused by “basic innumeracy in the press.”
It’s difficult to argue with Hiltzik’s suggestion that many in the media are illiterate in mathematics, but he is far less convincing in his contention that the disappearance of 2 million FTEs from the workforce is good news: “The CBO projects that the act will reduce the supply of labor, not the availability of jobs.” Hiltzik believes this is a positive development because it frees millions from the virtual bondage of “job lock.”
Never heard of job lock? In a column titled, “When Job Loss Helps the Economy Grow,” David Brodwin of U.S. News & World Report describes this scourge of the downtrodden worker: “This phenomenon… keeps people in the wrong job. It holds back economic growth, and it deprives America of much-needed entrepreneurial energy and innovation. And it is the cause of great unhappiness and frustration for those affected.”
Neither Hiltzik nor Brodwin provide any data concerning how many actual workers are affected by job lock. Moreover, neither they nor the authors of eerily similar columns published in other “news” outlets were moved by this human tragedy when John McCain cited it in 2008 as one of several reasons behind his proposal to decouple health insurance from employment. In fact, the media viciously savaged McCain and his plan.
But that was then and this is now. Since the release of the CBO report, the legacy media have churned out story after story suggesting that job lock is tantamount to slavery. And, oddly enough, these stories all support the Democrat Party line. The same claims have been repeated almost verbatim by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
In fact, during a news conference last week, Pelosi seemed on the verge of comparing the end of job lock to the Emancipation Proclamation: “This job-lock issue is a very, very important change in the dynamic of our economy. Think of an economy where people can follow their passion, their aspirations, their talent, their skill, instead of being locked by a policy.” One can almost hear these teeming millions shouting, “Free at last!”
Lost in all this phony concern about job lock is a far more important question: Does Obamacare really kill jobs? For anyone capable of absorbing objective data, the inescapable answer is a resounding “Yes.” In fact, one of the ironies of the “Affordable Care Act” is that it has already caused mass layoffs in the very industry it purports to reform. It has, for example, forced the Cleveland Clinic to lay off thousands of employees.
Nor are clinics and hospitals the only victims. Douglas Holtz-Eakin recently pointed out in the Hill that Obamacare’s medical device tax is a job killer: “In Michigan, Stryker Instruments announced more than 1,000 employees would be laid off.… In Minnesota, the tax resulted in St. Jude Medical restructuring and cutting 300 jobs.” Additionally, several other companies have scratched expansion plans that would have created jobs.
In other words, the real issue here is that Obamacare is a confirmed job killer. No informed observer will refute that well-documented reality. Thus, the Democrats and their media accomplices work very hard to prevent the public from becoming properly informed. This is what the late Christopher Hitchens was getting when he said, “I became a journalist because I did not want to rely on newspapers for information.”