After last week's hilarious GOP disinformation campaign about the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) report on the economic impact of the Affordable Care Act, the Republicans have changed gears to an all new disinformation campaign about the report.
To recap: the CBO report forecasts that more than two million people will scale back hours or leave the work force entirely due to the benefits of the ACA. People will leave the work force in order to find better jobs or to start their own small business.
The Republicans, including Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and CNN commentator S.E. Cupp, believe this is bad. On the Sunday shows, they launched their new meme about the CBO report: Obamacare disincentivizes work. In other words, as The Huffington Post's Zach Carter put it, the Republicans think Obamacare will make you lazy.
Yes, it's a new take on the old "welfare queen" line spruced up for 2014. And it's just as disingenuous as what they said last week about the ACA.
"I think any law you pass that discourages people from working can't be a good idea," Blunt said. "Why would we wanna do that? How does that allow people to prepare for the time when they don't work?"
How many days did Roy Blunt work in 2013? 113. Tell me again how working fewer hours is lazy, Mr. Blunt.
“What has never been controversial in the past is that disincentivizing work is bad, economically and culturally and socially. Economists have made it their project for the past century to develop welfare programs that disincentivize work the least, because disincentivizing work has been a bad idea. Now for Democrats it’s suddenly ‘freedom.’ I think the American public sees through that. It’s a pretty transparent effort.”
Why do Cupp and Blunt object to a law that allows people to find better-paying jobs or to start new businesses? Rather than disincentivizing work, the ACA actually encourages people to find better work, thus they're contributing more to the economy and building the middle class. And here I thought the Republicans liked entrepreneurship and economic growth. I guess not. I also thought the Republicans were pro-family, so isn't allowing moms and dads to spend a few more hours raising their kids a good thing? Why are the Republicans against this?
Here are some additional pesky facts about the CBO report:
--We're only talking about 2.4 million workers over the next ten years. The number of workers leaving the workforce entirely is "substantially less than 2.5 million," according to the CBO. In other words, it's not 2.5 million workers quitting their jobs. Last week, by the way, the meme was that 2.5 million workers were being fired due to the ACA. Credibility matters.
--The CBO also reported that the loss of total hours worked will only go down by -- wait for it -- 1.5 percent. Shock-horror, I know.
--I thought it'd be a good idea to reiterate that Doug Elmendorf testified to Congress last week and reported that the ACA will reduce unemployment. This is good, yes? More people will find jobs due to the ACA. This is the exact opposite of "disincentivizing" work. More jobs equals more work. The dilettantes who misreported the CBO's conclusions, deliberately or not, need to take a few courses on economics before they get to discuss another CBO paper.
--An aspect of the report that hasn't been widely reported is how disabled Americans who would otherwise enroll in Disability Insurance (DI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will likely choose to keep their jobs due to the ACA. When Bill O'Reilly interviewed President Obama before the Super Bowl, he complained about the number of people on DI and SSI. The ACA will help ameliorate this.
While we're here, you know what really disincentivizes work? Crappy wages that can't possibly cover basic necessities like rent and food. If the GOP was interested in incentivizing work, they'd support an increase in the minimum wage, while supporting laws that incentivize businesses to offer stronger benefits packages and -- here's a blast from the past -- maybe a real pension. Instead, the Republicans seem to be opposed to anything resembling a living wage in a time when American businesses are making record profits.
Americans work more hours than any other industrialized nation. We take fewer vacations, retire at older ages and our work days are longer. In 1970 we worked around 35 hours per week and made $59,000 per year (adjusted for inflation). Today, it's 46 hours per week and $51,000 per year. Over a million employees every year miss work due to work-related stress, costing businesses $200 billion annually. If the Republicans want to go around telling Americans that we need to work more hours; that we can never quit low-wage jobs to find better ones; that we can't start a business without losing our health insurance, I encourage them to do so.