Tuesday, February 04, 2014


You probably know what happened today:
The Congressional Budget Office issued a new report Tuesday on the federal budget deficit, Obamacare and jobs -- and Official Washington exploded.

It all centered on one line about how the health care reform law would affect employment. CBO actually said that Americans would choose to work less, for various reasons, and that if you translated the fewer hours worked into full-time jobs, it would equal 2.5 million by 2024 (2.3 million by 2021). It didn't say that Obamacare would cost the country 2.5 million jobs, but Republicans said so anyway.

But it wasn't just the GOP, which had a political incentive to take advantage of economic jargon. It was the political press as well. They either misrepresented what the report said -- or shrugged off the actual facts, opting instead to speculate on what the political spin would mean for the horse race.
To some extent, the projected reduction in hours worked will be because people nearing retirement age won't need to work to maintain health coverage in their pre-Medicare years:
"I think it's important to distinguish between people choosing to work less and jobs being lost," Larry Levitt, vice president at the non-partisan Kaiser Famiy Foundation, told TPM....

"For example, some people in their late 50s and early 60s would like to retire because they have health issues but have kept working for the health benefits. Some of them can now retire because they can’t be discriminated against for having a pre-existing condition and may get help paying their premiums."
The rest is explained by the fact that poor people are expected to try to limit their hours because the law -- like all means-tested laws aimed at helping the poor -- provides an incentive to keep income low, because a recipient's health care subsidies drop as the recipient's income rises. Kevin Drum says that if that bothers you, then maybe we should switch to single payer:
... health care ... doesn't have to be means tested. If we simply had a rational national health care system, available to everyone regardless of income, then none of this would be an issue. There might still be a small income effect, but it would probably be barely noticeable. Since everyone would be fully covered no matter what, there would no high effective marginal tax rate on the poor and no reason not to work more hours.
But either way, this supposed decline in jobs is actually a decline in the amount people choose to work, as even The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler acknowledges:
... this is not about jobs. It's about workers — and the choices they make....

The CBO, in its sober fashion, virtually screams that this is not about jobs....

... the figures (2 million, etc.) are shorthand for full-time equivalent workers -- a combination of two conclusions: fewer people looking for work and some people choosing to work fewer hours. The CBO added those two things and produced a hard number, but it actually does not mean 2 million fewer workers.
Republicans could argue that it's morally troublesome to give people the incentive to work less (which is what Ross Douthat frets about). Republicans could say that other people's taxes shouldn't pay to provide this incentive to work less, even if it's an incentive that might allow a person with three benefit-free minimum-wage jobs to cut down to two, because health care, at least, is now affordable. At least then Republicans would be arguing about what the CBO report actually says, rather than bellowing out a truthy talking point (OBAMACARE IS A JOB-KILLER) based on a distortion of the report.

But one of our two major political parties chooses dishonest zone-flooding politicization over truth every hour of every day, in 100% of all circumstances. The Republican Party isn't even a political party anymore, really -- it's an advocacy organization that substitutes the substance of attack ads for political discourse, every single day; it runs in campaign mode 365 days a year.

The Democrats never manage to keep up. And the members of the press are either stupid enough to treat the attack ads as fact....

... or so cynical that they're more concerned with how the messaging wars are going -- for the Democrats, they're usually going about as well as the Super Bowl went for the Broncos -- than they are with whether the truth gets out:

Democrats are losers. Republicans are liars. And the press just laughs every time Republicans kick the Democrats' asses.

Democracy can't survive under those conditions.


Ten Bears said...

Democrats are losers. Republicans are liars. And the press just laughs every time Republicans kick the Democrats' asses.

Democracy can't survive under those conditions.

There can be no change without casualty. Time to hang the Retards from the nearest lamppost. Cut their dicks off, stuff it down their throats, light their clothes on fire and hang them.

There can be no change without casualty.

No fear.

mervis said...

I wanted to say something, but after reading Ten Bears' asinine comment above, I'm outta here.

Victor said...

The coverage of the CBA report is a result of over 30 years of Conservatives accusing the MSM of a "Liberal Bias."

It's also the result of the "FOX Effect" - what I also call, "The FOXification of the News."

Coverage of politics has been dragged beyond the center-right.

Think of the news mediums, and now imagine that they're covering the weather.

When Republicans are in charge, every day is sunny, with not a cloud in the sky.

Rain is just liquid sunshine. Powerful winds are God's kisses. A blizzard, is angel dandruff, blessing the people.

It takes something like a Hurrican Katrina, or an economic collapse, for the weather people to acknowledge that there may be some bad weather - but it'll get better soon. Just you watch!

When Democrats are in charge, every day it's raining - and not just 'trickling-down' - but gushes of water, ciccada's, frogs, poop, and pee!!!

Storms are always brewing, threatening life, limb, and property.

Until our cowardly, compliant, and complicit MSM changes the way it does political coverage, representative democracy will continue to whither and die.

But, then, how can it change?

People in the MSM won't see what they're paid NOT TO SEE!

Will the last person around please pull the handle and hold it down to make sure everything and everyone is completely flushed down the sh*tter!

Unknown said...

Actually the report say it will create 2 million more workers. The jobs won't go away - someone else will do them. net jobs = 0, net new workers = +2 million

Unknown said...

I know Ten posts a lot and usually has something positive to say but I would like to see his comment above removed. Lets get out of the gutter.

Victor said...

I agree with Carl.

Sorry, Ten Bears.
Usually I love what you write, but that one's too far over the top - at least for me.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Another reason to ignore not only partisan polemics but the crap dealt out by supposedly reliable, honest, and responsible news media.

Incompetent, malicious, or stupid.

Who needs it?

brett said...

How might Democrats go about not being losers, given the tilted playing field the game is played on?

Roger said...

So when Jackie Calmes had to explain that particular bit of horseshit, she was losing?

Sounds about right.