Politics
President Barack Obama speaks about the Affordable Care Act, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, at Prince George

Obama denies Obamacare’s harm to the economy

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Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

President Barack Obama insisted Thursday that Obamacare isn’t slowing the economy, but had to mislabel one of his supporters as a Republican to bolster his claim.

“They said this would be a disaster in terms of jobs. There’s no widespread evidence the Affordable Care Act is hurting jobs,” he told an enthusiastic, mostly African-American audience at a community college in Price George’s County in Maryland.

“One of [Republican Sen.] John McCain’s former economic advisers admitted just this week, and I’m quoting here, ‘I was expecting to see it. I was looking for it, but it’s not there,’” Obama announced.

The quote came from Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, a new York-based economic advisory firm.

But Zandi has been an Obama supporter and a registered Democrat since 2009. In 2009, he declined to say if he had voted for Obama or McCain.

He was briefly part of the McCain presidential campaign when McCain’s top aide, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, asked him to provide quick analysis of economic developments on Wall Street.

There’s plenty of evidence, both statistical and anecdotal, that companies are cutting back employees’ hours, and are delaying investment and hiring, pending the full rollout of Obamacare and its myriad costly, high-risk regulations.

For example, numerous companies have announced plans to reduce the number of full-time staff in 2014 to avoid penalties that will be levied in 2015. The Republican National Committee is highlighting some of the cutbacks and layoffs on its website.

Overall, the nation’s economy has stalled so that the addition of new jobs only matches the population growth and the arrival of immigrants. Without extra jobs, roughly 20 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed, and after-inflation wages have stalled or declined for all but the wealthiest Americans since 2009.

In his Sept. 26 speech, Obama even argued that his federal take-over of the nation’s health-sector will aid the economy. “Reforming health care will help the economy over the long-term,” by curing health-care costs and free individuals to start small companies, he said.

Through his speech, Obama ridiculed critics of his plan, which imposes far-reaching federal requirements on one-sixth of the nation’s economy.

He also cited Sept. 25 data about the price of insurance on Obamacare exchanges to slam his critics.

Opponents “said the rates would come in real high, and everyone’s premiums would be sky high, and it turns out, lo and behold, actually the prices came in lower than we expected, lower than I predicted,” he claimed.

However, the Obamacare exchanges are only used to provide health insurance to the minority of people who do not have employer-provided insurance or government-provided health insurance.

Also, Obama’s claim about prices rests on a Sept. 25 government report that compares forecasts of Obamacare’s costs to the exchange prices announced Sept. 25.

The report does not compare Obamacare costs of health-care to today’s current, pre-Obamacare prices.

The full costs of Obamacare will be revealed in the second half of 2014, when experts can examine data from employers to gauge pre-Obamacare costs against the Obamacare costs for the roughly 150 million Americans who get insurance via their employers, said Avik Roy, a health-care expert at the Manhattan Institute.

Those full costs include out-of-pocket expenses, as well as the value of amenities, such as access to good and nearby doctors and services, he said.

Roughly 150 million Americans get their insurance via companies, while only 20 to 40 million million will get insurance via the Obamcare exchanges.

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