Obamacare Just Made Americans Richer Without Anyone Noticing

Obamacare Just Made Americans Richer Without Anyone Noticing

Glenn Beck once said Obamacare would mean "the end of prosperity in America forever." But so far, it turns out President Obama's 2010 health law is actually putting money in Americans' wallets.

To be exact, President Obama's 2010 health law was responsible for about three-quarters of a surprising January rise in U.S. consumer spending and American income growth, according to calculations by the Wall Street Journal.

While not exceptional, the gains were significant: a 0.4 percent rise in consumer spending ($45.2 billion) and a 0.3 percent rise in personal incomes (up $43.9 billion), according to new figures released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The growth came in spite of the expiration of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed and all that horrible winter weather.

So what exactly did the Obamacare rollout do to cause such a rise? For one, it expanded the Medicaid program, a critical and highly controversial aspect of the law, by adding up to a $19 billion in benefits in January. On top of that, health care enrollees additionally received another near $15 billion in the form of tax credits as a result of the rollout, according to the BEA.

Together the two changes have freed up many Americans to spend money that would have gone towards health care premiums on goods and services instead.

The benefits of the Obamacare rollout thus far also appear to throw cold water on the idea that the law will hamper the economy -- especially when considering last January. Back then, both consumer spending and personal incomes had their worst month in years and fell by several percentage points after the battle in Congress over the so-called "fiscal cliff" ended with recession-era payroll tax cuts not being extended.

Overall, that tax hike resulted in a $700 per worker tax increase on average, according to the Tax Policy Center. Who's killing the economy again?

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post attributed a drop in consumer spending to an increase in the payroll tax. In fact, the payroll tax did not increase. A temporary payroll tax cut expired.

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