The latest Republican lie about Obamacare is so blatantly false that not only has a fact-checker said so, but the Associated Press did an entire story on how badly the Republicans are lying.
You see, there’s a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report that says that by the year 2021, the equivalent of more than two million people will be able to leave their jobs because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA – aka Obamacare).
They won’t be fired.
They won’t be forced from their jobs.
They’ll finally be able to leave jobs that they want to leave, jobs that they’re holding on to ONLY because the job is giving them much-needed health care that they would lose and/or couldn’t afford if they left their job otherwise. But now, with Obamacare, those people are free to leave jobs they don’t want.
CBO says 2m people will quit jobs they don’t want
Don’t believe me. Read what CBO concluded (I quote much more of the document below):
CBO estimates that the ACA will reduce the total number of hours worked, on net, by about 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent during the period from 2017 to 2024, almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor…
The reduction in CBO’s projections of hours worked represents a decline in the number of full-time-equivalent workers of about 2.0 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024…
The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in businesses’ demand for labor.
Can’t get much clearer than that.
Michael Hiltzik at the LA Times explains a bit further exactly who benefits from this:
As economist Dean Baker points out, this is, in fact, a beneficial effect of the law, and a sign that it will achieve an important goal. It helps “older workers with serious health conditions who are working now because this is the only way to get health insurance. And (one for the family-values crowd) many young mothers who return to work earlier than they would like because they need health insurance. This is a huge plus.”
GOP claims CBO says 2m Americans will be fired
So what did the Republicans do with this amazing revelation? They’ve twisted it into “Obamacare kills 2 million jobs.”
Among the Republicans who outright lied about the report is not-ready-for-prime-time-yet-again 2016 presidential hopeful Marco Rubio:
“Just yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office found that Obamacare will cost millions of Americans their jobs.”
Then there’s GOP House Speaker John Boehner:
GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (the #2 guy in the US House):
“The CBO’s latest report confirms what Republicans have been saying for years now. Under Obamacare, millions of hardworking Americans will lose their jobs…”
GOP House Whip Kevin McCarthy:
And GOP Sen. Rand Paul on CNN on Tuesday:
“The real point is is that Obamacare is going to cost two million fewer people to have jobs.”
The list goes on.
NBC’s Chuck Todd repeats GOP lie
It’s really quite astounding a lie. And it’s one some in the media have been happy to repeat. Here is what Todd tweeted last night:
Then, when people blasted Todd for repeating GOP talking points, and misconstruing the blatantly obvious conclusion of the report, Todd doubled down:
Well, I did read the entire section. And I’m increasingly convinced that Chuck Todd did not. Here’s what CBO said about businesses possibly slowing down their hiring too:
The estimated reduction [in employment] stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in businesses’ demand for labor…
“A drop in businesses’ demand for labor” is another way of saying “businesses slowing down hiring.” So, in fact, CBO said the opposite of what Todd is alleging.
The ACA also will affect employers’ demand for workers, mostly over the next few years, both by increasing labor costs through the employer penalty (which will reduce labor demand) and by boosting overall demand for goods and services (which will increase labor demand).
It’s worth pointing out that CBO just said that Obamacare will in some ways increase and in other ways decrease the demand employers will have for retaining current, and hiring additional, employees. So far that’s a wash.
Uncertainty in several areas—including the timing and sequence of policy changes and implementation procedures and their effects on health insurance premiums and workers’ demand for health insurance—probably has encouraged some employers to delay hiring. However, those effects are difficult to quantify separately from other developments in the labor market, and possible effects on the demand for labor through such channels have not been incorporated into CBO’s estimates of the ACA’s impact.
So CBO says “some” employers may have held off on some additional hiring as a result of Obamacare being passed, but there’s really not enough information to say if it’s significant. What there is enough information to say, CBO concludes, is that the “reduction” in employment will “almost entirely” come from people choosing to leave jobs they don’t want, and not from businesses slowing down their hiring.
So where exactly does CBO “essentially reaffirm GOP talking points on health care,” talking points that claim that two million people will be fired, rather than two million people will finally be able to leave jobs that they don’t want?
I’ve defended Chuck Todd in the past when I thought folks were misinterpreting his tweets. But on this one, he’s dead wrong, and we’ve got the CBO report, and quotes, to prove it.
Even Paul Ryan seems to have figured out the truth. From AP:
As if recognizing that fellow Republicans were getting a bit overheated, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, House Budget Committee chairman, introduced a reality check when questioning Douglas Elmendorf, budget office director, during a hearing Wednesday. “So just to understand this, it’s not that employers are laying people off, it’s that … people aren’t working in the workforce, aren’t supplying labor,” he posited.
“That is right,” Elmendorf replied.
Oh, and there’s also no evidence that employers are moving employeees to part-time jobs
And as for the Republicans’ other criticism, that Obamacare has forced employers to move employees from full-time to part-time – yeah, that’s bogus too. More from the CBO report:
In CBO’s judgment, there is no compelling evidence that part-time employment has increased as a result of the ACA. On the one hand, there have been anecdotal reports of firms responding to the employer penalty by limiting workers’ hours, and the share of workers in part- time jobs has declined relatively slowly since the end of the recent recession. On the other hand, the share of workers in part-time jobs generally declines slowly after recessions, so whether that share would have declined more quickly during the past few years in the absence of the ACA is difficult to determine.21 In any event, because the employer penalty will not take effect until 2015, the current lack of direct evidence may not be very informative about the ultimate effects of the ACA.
Fox News would like you to stop following your dream
You can reach your own conclusions as to whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing that because of Obamacare two million more people will be able to choose whether or not they want to leave a job they don’t want. Fox News, of course, thinks it’s a terrible idea:
Caputo, who writes for the Miami Herald, is right. CBO didn’t say that. Not to mention, Greta, exactly what part of “follow your dream” is bad advice?
If the worst thing Fox News can say about Obamacare is that it lets two million more Americans follow their dream, then the battle over the ACA is over, and we won.