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THUNE: Obamacare creates disincentives to work

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opinion Mitchell, 57301

Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

In January, we added a mere 113,000 jobs to the U.S. economy and the labor force participation rate reached a 35-year low -- the lowest level since Jimmy Carter occupied the White House. CBS News reported in February that the economy would have to gain an average of 285,000 jobs per month for the next three years just to get us back to where we were before the recession. Yet, job creation for the past year hasn't even come close to reaching that goal.

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Over the past year, our economy has averaged just 180,000 new jobs per month. If we continue at that same rate, it will take us more than five years to return to where we were before the recession. However, instead of enacting pro-growth, pro-job creation policies to help stimulate our economy and put Americans back to work, the president and congressional Democrats continue to insist on implementing Obamacare's job-destroying mandates, taxes and provisions.

On Feb. 4, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a new report on Obamacare. The report found that Obamacare will result in the equivalent of 2.5 million fewer workers over the next 10 years. The CBO report made clear that Obamacare provides disincentives to work, particularly for low-income workers. For example, an individual receiving Obamacare subsidies to pay for his or her health insurance may decide not to accept more hours or a higher-paying job so that he or she doesn't exceed the income cap for receiving subsidies. What's more, high-wage workers may decide not to rise too far up the ladder so their income does not reach the threshold at which it would be subject to the Obamacare tax.

Beyond the alarming job numbers in the CBO report, the CBO also commented on Obamacare's impact on wages. The CBO said Obamacare would result in a one percent reduction in wages. The Senate Budget Committee predicts this 1 percent reduction would result in more than $1 trillion in wage cuts from 2017 through 2024. Thus, Obamacare will essentially cap take-home pay, putting a limit on the prosperity of millions of Americans and limiting our overall economic growth.

Encouraging Americans to work less, or quit work altogether, will undermine American prosperity and American families' security. Rather than continue to implement a failing health care law that drives up prices and destroys jobs, the administration should work with congressional Republicans to embrace bipartisan legislative proposals that will open up new jobs and opportunities for the American people. From repealing the Obamacare medical device tax, to approving the Keystone XL pipeline, I will continue to work across the aisle on these bipartisan proposals to ensure we secure a strong economic future for the American people and shield as many people as possible from the devastating impacts of Obamacare.

-- John Thune, a Republican, is one of South Dakota’s U.S. senators.

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