Nice Work If You Can Quit It...
Selling ObamaCare may be a tough job -- but it's one of the few the law hasn't killed. Work hasn't exactly been easy to come by under this administration, but it's nothing compared to the employment famine headed America's way courtesy of the Affordable Care Act. Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office -- the government's nonpartisan number-crunchers -- released a new report that might as well double as Republican campaign ads.
In one of the most damning assessments of ObamaCare yet, CBO blames the law for killing as many as two million full-time jobs by 2017 (double what the agency originally estimated) -- and as many as 2.5 million in the next 10 years. And that's without factoring in the major fallout of the employer mandate -- another provision the White House illegally delayed (and therefore isn't considered in the CBO projections). Once that wave of penalties hit, the real crisis begins. Faced with the problem of insuring a staff of 50 or more workers, many businesses will either hire less, cut hours, lower pay -- or all three! So as bleak as this report looks, it's nothing compared to the "pink-slip bloodbath" headed America's way when the employer mandate kicks in.
While CBO pins part of the problem on the employers cutting jobs, it also predicts that a big chunk of Americans will just drop out of the labor force altogether -- choosing not to work so that they can qualify for the government's generous health care subsidies. Conservatives, who've called the law a job-killer since the idea was hatched, can now add ambition-killer to the list. "This is one of the perverse incentives in this terrible law," said a frustrated Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.). "It actually encourages able-bodied people to not work."
Of course, the White House, using the kind of spin that would make a Maytag jealous, insists that millions of unmotivated Americans aren't necessarily a bad thing. "Work" was already a dirty word in this administration, which couldn't wait to waive the labor requirement of the welfare law and make people even more reliant on government. Now, thanks to ObamaCare, Americans have even less incentive to work harder -- or at all. An ethos, apparently, that this White House applauds. "Individuals will be empowered to make choices about their own lives and livelihoods," the President's PR team said, and "have the opportunity to pursue their dreams." Translation: they can sit at home and watch while the rest of the country works to pay for their health care subsidy. And this is somehow good news?
The editors of National Review don't think so. After all, "Those 2.5 million out of the work force may be happier at their leisure, but the economy as a whole will be substantially worse off without their contributions. We could, in theory, simply have the federal government deliver checks to every household and allow each and every one to follow his bliss as he sees fit, but the shelves of the grocery story soon would be empty. The depth of the ObamaCare crater in the labor force isn't some abstract unemployment rate, but the lost value of the work those Americans would have done."
As far as actual enrollment numbers, CBO's forecast was just as gloomy. Thanks to the nightmare known as HealthCare.gov, experts are shaving a million from its initial sign-up predictions -- lowering expectations from seven million insured to six. It's just another one of the negative effects, experts admit, that is "substantially larger" than anticipated. And far from the last.
Dems Give Fish the Benefit of the Drought
California's Central Valley is known as "the salad bowl of the world" -- but that salad's about to get tossed, if the Left doesn't stop angling for special fish protections. Under some of the worst drought conditions the region's ever seen, communities may be 60 days away from running out of water altogether. While people panic, especially farmers of the rich asparagus, broccoli, onion, tomato, lettuce, and garlic crops, liberals are fighting the push to divert millions of gallons of water away from an endangered fish habitat to parched locals.
"Without water, we can't work," said the head of Harris Farms. "It's not healthy. Without knowing how much water we're going to get, it's so difficult to plan!" If a pistachio tree takes five to seven years to grow, "how can we plant one now if we can't guarantee we can water it in a couple of years?" Yesterday, recognizing the desperate situation of farmers and families, the House debated a bill that would roll back the area's environmental protections long enough to save the harvest. But fishing for liberals' support was tough, especially in a party willing to leave families thirsty for the sake of a three-inch fish called the delta smelt.
"As fish go, it is undistinguishable..." writes National Review's Charles Cook. "[They] are of interest to nobody much -- except, that is, to the implacable foot soldiers of the modern environmental movement, some of whom have recently elevated the smelt's well being above all else... Human beings, the production of food, and the distribution of life-enabling water can all be damned, it seems. All hail the smelt, the most important animal in America." During the two-hour hearing, Democrats were the smelts' most passionate defenders, putting fish before families in a revealing display of the Left's priorities. By a 9-3 vote, Republicans did manage to send the Emergency Water Delivery Act to the floor -- but not before liberals proved that what's really endangered is common sense.
Like most conservatives, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) shook his head at the backward agenda of the President's party. "How you can favor fish over people is something that people from my part of the world never understand." The Left would rather ration water, destroy California jobs, jeopardize the food source, and drive up costs than put people above animals. Unfortunately, this is just another byproduct of driving the biblical worldview from public policy. The idea that people are made in God's image is completely lost on rabid environmentalists who are willing to sacrifice Americans' health, productivity, and the economy for the sake of a short-lived, bony-backed river dweller.
Meanwhile, these same champions of the delta smelt -- the ones ready to risk acres of farmland on its survival -- stand by as innocent children are killed in the most vulnerable habitat in America: the womb. Where is this same concern for human beings, who suffer by the millions simply because they aren't wanted? That's the great hypocrisy of the Left. They worry about the humane treatment of fish only to turn around and fight fetal pain bills in every state legislature in America. The House's liberal members shudder to think what it's like for the poor smelt. But that's just a drop in the ocean compared to the millions of children caught in the nets of choice.
** As parties file their briefs for next month's Supreme Court hearing, Ken Blackwell breaks down the Left's real agenda on the HHS mandate in a new piece for The Hill, "Washington's Topsy-Turvy Rhetoric Escalates the War on Faith."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.