By Ruth Conniff
The Republican myth that providing better healthcare to more people would somehow "kill jobs" and destroy America's middle class has finally been smothered to death.
A poll of businesses from four different sectors of the private economy, conducted by the National Association of Business Economics (NABE) and released earlier this week, found that hiring practices at about 75 percent of companies are not being affected at all by the Affordable Care Act.
While 21 percent expressed concern that the health reform law may negatively affect the business environment, 85 percent remained confident that it would not interfere with their hiring practices. Just 8 percent of businesses said that health reform would lead to less hiring, and only 6 percent said they plan to rely on more part-time labor to avoid healthcare costs.
The data provides a sharp contrast to Republican rhetoric over the last several years. Many of the party's leading voices contend that Obamacare is a "job killer," and a long record of their comments still exists online.
"Obamacare is a job killer," former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney declared moments after the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Affordable Care Act as the law of the land. "Businesses across the country have been asked what the impact is of Obamacare. Three quarters of those surveyed by the Chamber of Commerce said Obamacare makes it less likely for them to hire people."
Romney sounded a lot like Florida Governor Rick Scott -- a former venture capitalist who founded the Columbia Hospital Corporation -- who appeared on Fox News days earlier and proclaimed that Obamacare "will be the biggest job killer ever."
Americans also heard that same rhetoric from Texas Senator Ted Cruz ahead of the costly government shutdown of 2013. "Obamacare is the number one job killer in America!" Cruz told a crowd of cheering Republicans.
They were echoed by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who insisted during a Fox News interview in September that "the middle class will be decimated" by the health reform law, which she alleged would "result in a part-time employment arena that most Americans are gonna have to face."
If Republicans wish to keep their brand of being more in touch with businesses than Democrats, maybe they should try being right when they talk about the impact of government policies on the private sector.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate dropped in 39 states last month, improving to 6.7 percent nationally from a high of 10 percent in October 2009.