“Obamacare is the most dangerous piece of legislation ever passed in Congress. It is the most existential threat to our economy.” That ominous warning is courtesy of Republican Representative John Fleming of Louisiana and it is an oft-repeated claim by all manner of conservatives who either are unaware what existential means or are so freakishly deluded they actually believe it. Apparently most Republicans believe it because it has been their raison d’être since the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010, and as obsessions go, it may be an existential threat to Republicans. It is curious that Republicans have persistently claimed the health law is a threat to the economy when it is not yet fully implemented, but if Fleming was referring to the tired assertion the ACA will kill jobs; their fallback contention was dealt a serious blow this week.
Republicans argue that like taxes on the rich, the Affordable Care Act will force employers to lay off current employees and stop hiring new workers, but according to a survey that went unnoticed on Tuesday, that is not the case. The Duke Fuqua School of Business Finance survey revealed that chief financial officers expect to increase the number of full-time employees by nearly 2% over the next 12 months as key parts of the Affordable Care Act go into effect. The survey dispels conservative assertions that the ACA will restrict business growth and expansion, and force companies to abandon full-time employees and shift to a part-time workforce to avoid providing insurance coverage mandated for companies with more than 50 employees in the health law.
The professor who directed the survey, John Graham said “The expected two percent growth in employment is solid, given the context of long-run shifts away from full-time employees largely because of concerns about health care reform and economic uncertainty.” However, according to research by a Moody’s economist, most industries “are actually using fewer part-timers than last year.” There is growth in part-time employment, but it began long before the Affordable Care Act and is restricted to “industries such as restaurants and hospitality that use as much as twice as many part-timers as other companies.”
Even though the healthcare reform law is not an existential threat to the economy, it hasn’t deterred conservatives preparing to shut down the government on October 1st unless the President acquiesces to demands to eliminate all aspects of the ACA in return for funding the government. Speaker of the House John Boehner met with Congressional leaders of both parties on Thursday under the guise of resuming budget cutting negotiations to pacify teabaggers and prevent a government shutdown, as well as to bolster chances they will go along with raising the government’s borrowing limit. After the meeting, Boehner put the onus of finding a solution to his teabagger problem on Democrats and said, “It’s time for the president’s party to show the courage to work with us to solve this problem,” and argued that budget deals have been part of past agreements to raise the debt limit. Except for the 2011 debt limit crisis that resulted in a credit downgrade, a million jobs lost, a devastating sequester, and a nearly $19 billion cost to the government, the debt limit is routinely raised unconditionally. Boehner is lying and with only 4 legislative days remaining until the government shuts down due to lack of funding, he is likely getting desperate.
Boehner’s deficit reduction focus was thwarted when 43 House Republicans introduced their own one-year funding bill that would increase Pentagon and Veterans’ spending and delay implementation of the ACA; the deal would certainly add to the budget deficit. The budget deficit, by the way, that fell to its lowest level in 5 years leaving Boehner little bargaining room in budget cuts or debt ceiling negotiations and stuck facing a recalcitrant teabagger caucus Hell-bent on eliminating the ACA. In fact, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and Congressional Democrats informed Boehner that there would be no negotiations on raising the debt ceiling, and made it clear they would never accept demands to repeal, defund, or delay the President’s signature health care law; the White House summarily dismissed the idea as a nonstarter.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “I had to be very candid with him and I told him directly, all these things they’re doing on Obamacare are just a waste of their time, their direction is the direction toward shutting down the government.” Reid also said “I like John Boehner, I do feel sorry for him,” and his sentiment was echoed by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) who said “Sometimes I sympathize with Speaker Boehner, but the fact of the matter is, if he wants to lead for the good of the nation, he has to step beyond the Tea Party faction of his caucus.” Durbin and Reid’s sympathies are misplaced because it is the American people who are paying the price for Boehner’s lack of leadership and disinterest in governing. One wonders if Reid and Durbin felt sorry for Boehner for holding 40 symbolic votes to repeal the health law, or when he was happy he got 98% of what he wanted when Republicans held the debt ceiling hostage.
Republicans have known the government would run out of funding on October 1 for months, and yet they wasted time on manufactured scandals and ridiculous repeal votes. When the Senate passed a budget months ago, Senate Republicans refused to appoint representatives to negotiate with their House counterparts. Republicans spent their generous 5-week vacation plotting and convincing their constituents that defunding the ACA was their sole intent when they returned for nine days in September and it is that obsession that will cause a government shut down and threaten the full faith and credit of the United States; a real existential threat to the economy.
Republicans are lost and the House leadership is floundering with only 4 legislative days to prevent a government shut down and no workable resolution in sight which is why Boehner desperately needs Democrats to save the day to avoid voters blaming Republicans for closing the government. Republican leaders said decisions to prevent a government shutdown would have to be made next week on a way forward, and it will have to be with Democratic votes because there is no such thing as Republican unity; except their obsession with defunding the Affordable Care Act. Boehner said “There are a million options that are being discussed by a lot of people. When we have something to report, we’ll let you know.” Maybe if Boehner and his cohort would get over their Affordable Care Act and austerity obsession they would have something to report other than “Obamacare is the most existential threat to our economy.” The only threat to America’s economy is incompetent Republicans in Congress and their impotent leadership and Americans still want to know; where are the jobs?
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.