“In the end, history is not kind to those who would deny Americans their basic economic security. Nobody remembers well those who stand in the way of America’s progress or our people. And that’s what the Affordable Care Act represents.” President Obama, who made that statement last week, has never uttered truer words.
Obama’s signature legislation is plainly standing in the way of Americans’ economic security and progress, a fact for which he and his congressional allies won’t be remembered kindly. The federal government’s own Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), housed in the executive branch, tells the tale.
In June 2009, Obama effectively launched the Obamacare era in his major speech to the American Medical Association, during which he offered advice to doctors on how to practice medicine. The next month (the first of the economic “recovery”), the employment-population ratio—which shows the percentage of Americans (among those who are free to pursue employment) who are employed—fell to just 59.3 percent. That tally was lower than in any month of the 18-month recession that Obama inherited. It was also lower than in any month of the George W. Bush administration, any month of the Clinton administration, any month of the George H. W. Bush administration, and any month of the second term of the Reagan administration. Prior to the Obamacare era, the last time that only 59.3 percent of eligible Americans were employed was in April of 1984, when we were still recovering from Jimmy Carter.
Alas, 59.3 percent has turned out to be the high-water mark (to date) for employment in the Obamacare era, which has now spanned four and three-quarters years (and counting). In other words, the 50 worst months of employment in the past 25 years have all come since Obama launched the Obamacare debate (a debate he now—wishfully, arrogantly, and irrationally—calls “over”). Indeed, it’s actually worse than that: The 57 worst months for employment in the past 29 years (and 11 months) have all come during the Obamacare era. And whereas Joe DiMaggio’s fabled hitting streak ended at 56 games, Obamacare’s streak of 57 consecutive months of historically bad employment is ongoing.
Liberals say the employment-population ratio has dropped not because of Obamacare but because of baby boomers’ retirements, but that claim doesn’t square with the data. To be sure, those retirements—which are putting added strain on a pool of potential Medicare funding that’s now being rechanneled, in part, to finance Obamacare—have been a factor. But in the Obamacare era, the employment tallies for those between the ages of 25 and 54 have been nearly as bad as for the eligible population as a whole.
According to the BLS, the percentage of eligible Americans between the ages of 25 and 54 who are employed has been between 74.8 and 76.7 percent during all 57 months of the Obamacare era. The last time employment for this age-group was that low for any month in the pre-Obamacare era was in August of 1985, when Rambo: First Blood Part II and Back to the Future were in theaters.
We can’t go back in time and prevent the Democrats’ willful passage of Obamacare. But we can repeal it and replace it with a conservative alternative. For the sake of Americans’ economic prosperity and security—to say nothing of their liberty—we must.
Jeffrey H. Anderson is executive director of the 2017 Project, which is working to advance a conservative reform agenda.