The debate around the Affordable Care Act has been mired in muddle and misinformation from the start. The latest example of deliberate obfuscation by universal healthcare’s opponents comes with publication of the Congressional Budget Office’s latest glimpse into the future, “The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024.”
All economic forecasting comes with a health warning — peering into the future is as riven with unforeseen danger as any other science fiction. The CBO, however, offers a cool-headed attempt to equip lawmakers and government officials with an estimate of how the economy may perform in the years ahead. It is not intended to back one side of the Obamacare debate over the other.
The section that caused all the fuss is Appendix C, “Labor Market Effects of the Affordable Care Act: Updated Estimates.” The key finding tripped headlines screaming “ObamaCare could lead to loss of nearly 2.3 million US jobs” (Fox News) and caused the Wall Street Journal to dub the ACA “The Jobless Care Act.”
The government is guessing how many Americans, now armed with affordable individual insurance through Obamacare, will leave an employer they worked for principally to gain access to the company-negotiated health coverage.
The CBO goes out of its way to suggest that its estimate “is subject to substantial uncertainty, which arises in part because many of the ACA’s provisions have never been implemented on such a broad scale and in part because available estimates of many key responses vary considerably.” It states: “The actual effects could differ notably.”