No, despite what GOP talking points would have you believe, Obamacare is not dragging down the economy. That’s the word from Douglas Elmendorf, the widely respected director of the Congressional Budget Office, known as the CBO.
“We don’t think that the healthcare law is having a significant impact on the economy today,” Elmendorf told reporters Wednesday morning at a press breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. Some of those arguments are based in the theory that there mere specter of the Affordable Care Act has caused businesses to curl up whimpering. (In point of fact, Elmendorf also said that while businesses have been sitting on cash reserves, “it’s not entirely clear” why they have been—contradicting GOP assertions that it’s been caused by much ballyhooed uncertainty.)
The other reason Republicans sometimes cite when attacking the law as a job killer (oops—apparently they don’t like that phrase anymore because it hasn’t polled well) is a CBO estimate that once full implemented, the law would, as Elmendorf put it, “reduce the amount of labor used in the economy by about a half a percent at the end of the decade,” but he added that “most of that is people choosing not to work because they can obtain health insurance at an affordable price outside of the workforce.”
In other words, the majority of people who will leave the workforce under the healthcare law will do so not because they were downsized but because they’re quitting jobs they didn’t want anyway. (And in any case, Elmendorf said, “a half a percent of the labor force is not a very big share.”)