Conservatives push misreading of CBO report to claim Obamacare is a job-killer

By Arturo Garcia
Tuesday, February 4, 2014 19:45 EDT
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Fox Business host Lou Dobbs. Screenshot via FoxNews.com.
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Conservative media outlets are misstating the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) findings regarding the Affordable Care Act, despite the report actually pointing toward positive results for both workers and employers.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday that the report concluded that the law, commonly known as “Obamacare,” would reduce federal deficits, in part by allowing the Treasury to collect $16 billion from insurance companies, while paying them $8 billion in risk subsidies — expenses for treatment that exceeds estimated coverage costs, up to a certain point.

“The Republicans choose to call it a “bailout” of insurers; actually, it’s a way of keeping premiums for some plans from getting out of hand, until the industry has more experience dealing with its new clientele,” the Times noted. “Unsurprisingly, the GOP is doubling down on this dishonesty by talking about eliminating the risk corridors as a condition for raising the federal debt limit.”

Media Matters reported that Fox News is also saying that the law will mean the country will lose just over 2 million jobs.

“What we’re looking at is just another round of devastating numbers for all Americans because the result of this is there will be fewer jobs,” Fox host Lou Dobbs said Tuesday afternoon. “They had projected already that Obamacare would cost 800,000 jobs over the course of the decade. Now they’re saying 2.3 million.”

In reality, the report stated [PDF] that while the number of total jobs in the U.S. will increase by 2017, more people will choose to work less than a full-time schedule, since they will have the ability to pay for their own insurance, rather than rely on their employers to provide it.

“The decline in fulltime-equivalent employment stemming from the ACA will consist of some people not being employed at all and other people working fewer hours; however, CBO has not tried to quantify those two components of the overall effect,” the report said. “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, so it will appear almost entirely as a reduction in labor force participation and in hours worked relative to what would have occurred otherwise rather than as an increase in unemployment (that is, more workers seeking but not finding jobs) or underemployment (such as part-time workers who would prefer to work more hours per week).”

Media Matters also noted that Dobbs’ statement referencing 800,000 jobs lost thanks to the law was also based on a conservative canard.

Watch Dobbs’ remarks, as posted on Media Matters on Tuesday, below.

Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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