Politics
White House press secretary Jay Carney gestures during his daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday, Sept., 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

White House dismisses evidence of economic harm of Obamacare

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

White House spokesman Jay Carney denied the evidence that Obamacare is inflicting economic harm, and dismissed the proliferating data as mere anecdotes or as normal churn in the economy.

“The aggregate truth … does not bear out claims that the Affordable Care Act is causing employers to drop employees from insurance,” he told skeptical reporters at the daily White House briefing Thursday.

When one reporter asked him to comment on the news that the Securitas security firm has told 55,000 of its employees to find their own insurance on the taxpayer-subsidized markets, Carney replied, “That’s an anecdote.”

Carney dismissed another reporter’s question about the decision by President Barack Obama’s home town of Chicago to transfer its retired employees to the federal taxpayer Obamacare network.

“There has been huge trends and shifts in the insurance market in our country that have been going for years,” he said.

Throughout the briefing, he fended off questions about the economic impact of Obama’s primary legislative accomplishment.

He dismissed a stream of bad-news announcements as unrepresentative of reality.

“You have anecdotes… There is no systematic evidence… That has not been happening across the country in any systematic way,” he insisted.

He tried to blame businesses for avoiding costs, rather than Obamacare for raising costs.

“What we know is that there has been a long-time trend … of employers changing the way they provide health care and often dropping employees from health care,” he claimed.

Carney’s denial came a few hours after Obama told a Maryland audience that “there’s no widespread evidence the Affordable Care Act is hurting jobs.”

Obama and Carney’s denials fly in the face of many reports from the business sector.

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 at its website.

“The ACA is fueling a fundamental shift in the composition of the American workforce,” said a 2013 report by Express Employment Professionals, which supplies part-time workers to companies. “It is incentivizing both employers and employees to work fewer hours by placing penalties on full-time work, causing many to rethink the traditional 40-hour work week,” said the report.

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

Large numbers of college grads are working at hourly-paid jobs or minimum wage jobs.

Carney, as Obama’s chief spokesman, tried to counterattack by arguing that the new benefits offered by the federal health-care network trump any facts about its cost and impact.

“The fundamental fact” is that federal insurance will be available to people after Jan. 1, he insisted.

Companies must provide insurance without annual limits, without regard to pre-existing conditions, without regard to sex or genetic risks, and must cover “essential services,” he insisted. Those “essential services” include birth, contraceptives and abortions.

Also, he insisted, “if you like your health insurance … absolutely you can keep it,” he said, providing your employer keeps offering it.

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