At this week’s debate for the Republican presidential candidates, Carly Fiorina, who’s dabbled at times with demonstrably false talking points, proudly declared, “Obamacare isn’t helping anyone.” Even for her, it was unsettling to hear Fiorina deny the existence of tens of millions of Americans who’ve benefited from the Affordable Care Act.
But aside from the garden-variety nonsense, the debate’s audience also heard a more specific claim from Marco Rubio: “[W]e have a crazy health care law that discourages companies from hiring people.” To which the reality-based community responded, “We do?”
The oddity of the criticism is how easy it is to recognize how wrong it is. We know, for example, that in 2014 – the first full year of ACA implementation – the job market in the United States had its best year since the late 1990s. Indeed, hiring in 2014 was so strong, it surpassed literally any single year in either Bush presidency, and even many of the years in the Clinton era.
How do “Obamacare” critics explain this? As best as I can tell, so far, they don’t even try.
But we can go a step further with this. Riffing off a great observation Dan Diamond made in Forbes, I made the above chart, noting private-sector employment in the United States over the last eight years. The red line shows the final two years of the Bush/Cheney era, as the private sector shed jobs; the light blue line shows the first year of the Obama era, when the Great Recession started to end; and the hard blue line shows March 2010 through the present.
And why is March 2010 of particular significance? Because private-sector employment bottomed out in February 2010, and then started to recover in March 2010. It hasn’t looked back since.
March 2010 is the month President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. In other words, America’s private sector started hiring again, not around the same time as “Obamacare,” but quite literally the exact month the president put pen to paper and made the ACA the law of the land.
The question then becomes, if we have “a crazy health care law that discourages companies from hiring people,” why does the evidence point in the opposite direction?
Postscript: I’d be remiss if I neglected to note that new jobs are being created in the health-care industry at an extraordinary pace. The industry added more jobs in the first 10 months of this year than in all of 2013 and 2014 combined, and hospitals in particular have been on a hiring binge unlike anything we’ve seen in many years.
It seems as if we should be thanking this “crazy health care law that discourages companies from hiring people.”