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Chester County Press

Affordable Care Act stands in the way of jobs

08/15/2013 12:15PM ● By Acl

By Congressman Joe Pitts

There is perhaps no quote that is more overused in Washington than Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan's statement that, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."

When we talk about facts like "the sky is blue," everyone is in agreement. But political facts aren't that simple, and when we're talking about a vastly complicated law that is being implemented nationwide, the facts are in dispute.

This is why the President's press secretary, Jay Carney can claim: "The data reflects that there is no support for the proposition that businesses are not hiring full-time employees because of the Affordable Care Act."

It's also why Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid can testify before Congress: "When I'm out in the marketplace, we're not seeing folks changing their [work] hours."

First of all, let's see what is happening with full-time and part-time jobs in the U.S. Sure, the economy and the job market are moving in a positive direction, but many Americans are still searching high and low for good jobs to replace what was lost in the recession.

Since 2009, full-time jobs have grown by only 0.23 percent, while part-time jobs have increased by more than 7 percent. Also, job growth has been the slowest for any recovery since the Great Depression. The job market hasn't bounced back like it was expected to.

When you look at employer surveys, you start to understand why Obamacare may be playing a role in slow growth. A Gallup poll of small businesses found that 41 percent of employers surveyed had frozen hiring because of implementation of the law. Nineteen percent said that they has reduced the number of employees in their business because of the law.

Another poll from the Chamber of Commerce backs this up. Their Small Business Outlook Survey for this year found that 71 percent of small businesses say that the law is making it harder for them to hire new workers. Only 30 percent said that they were prepared to meet the requirements of the law.

When the survey looked at employers specifically affected by the new employer mandate, it found that either half of them will cut worker hours or cut employees to keep their business open under the new law.

For workers in need of jobs, this is bad news. It's doubly bad when we consider that the new individual mandate will require them to purchase government-approved insurance. In some states, the new insurance is twice the cost of what is typically available in the market now.

When accountants were surveyed about what they are hearing from businesses they work with, these statistics were again reinforced. Sixty-six percent reported that their business clients tell them that the law makes it less likely that they will hire more employees in the next year. Only two percent said that the law makes them more likely to hire more.

I've heard this firsthand from employers and workers in the district. On a frequent basis, I hear from workers who have seen their hours cuts below 30 per week because of the law's new definition of part-time.

Businesses I've met with are confused about what is required. Those who are at just under 50 full-time employees are scared of hiring more because of the expensive new requirements that start with the 50th hire.

I understand that Carney has other data more flattering to the law. I'm relatively certain that Tavenner is not being sent to meet with employers upset with the law. I know that the President's officials have to paint a pretty portrait of what is happening here.

Honestly, it's hard to know whether the President even sees the negative stories. He doesn't like to talk about implementation of his signature law. His events seem to be carefully scripted to avoid much talk about health care beyond a few well-rehearsed talking points.

Moynihan was right, we're not entitled to our own facts. However, when facts get in the way of political goals, they are easy to ignore. Employers and workers are getting hurt, but the administration's position seems to be "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil."