The Republican battle against the Affordable Care Act just can't catch a break. First, the website is repaired and currently runs quite well. Then we find out that millions of uninsured Americans signed up for a plan, with millions more signed up through the law's Medicaid expansion. Then their Obamacare horror stories turn out to be bogus, and Speaker of the House John Boehner basically gave up on trying to repeal the law.
And now, this.
Before we get into it, the Congressional Budget Office is the closest thing we have to a neutral arbiter of facts and reality any more. With all sides locked firmly in their own epistemic cones of silence and certain groups concocting their own facts while ignoring contravening ones, the CBO seems to be the only source upon which everyone can agree, and in that regard it can be cruel friend. Sometimes it reinforces an argument, and sometimes it totally crushes a wide variety of bad ideas and misleading forecasts.
That's precisely what happened to the Republicans this week. Again.
Rep. Todd Young (R-IN) introduced a bill last year, the Save American Workers Act of 2013, and 208 other Republicans -- nearly the entire caucus -- signed on as co-sponsors. The intention of the bill is to somehow "save American workers" by increasing the threshold for full-time employment from 30 hours per week to 40 hours. This would allow more businesses to circumvent the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act. The bill would also reduce the penalty for failing to comply with the law.
When introducing the bill, Young said:
"Repealing this redefinition [of 'full time employment'] and restoring it to the historical norm ensures this bill not only protects working poor and middle class employees, it also ensures that laws governing employment are consistent."
Not so fast. Here comes the CBO.
It turns out the Save American Workers Act... won't. In fact, the CBO in conjunction with the Joint Committee on Taxation reported that one million workers would lose their work-based insurance policies. Half would be forced into either an ACA plan, Medicaid or SCHIP. The other half wouldn't get any health insurance at all.
It gets worse. Due to the provision loosening the penalty for not complying with the law, the deficit would go up by $74 billion.
That's right, 208 members of the House (the co-sponsors included seven Democrats) signed onto a bill that not only takes away the healthcare plans of a million Americans, but it also increases the deficit by tens of billions of dollars. Meanwhile, the bill has already passed through Ways & Means and is headed to a floor vote next week where surely more members will wrap their loving arms around a bill that amounts to legislative blowback against the GOP.
Everything the Republicans say and do about the ACA is a disaster. Recently, as we covered here, the GOP's long-standing description of Obamacare as a "job-killing healthcare law" was crushed when the CBO's director, Doug Elmendorf, testified that indeed the law will create jobs. And this was in response to the flagrantly obvious Republican trick to spin another CBO report on the law to seem as if 2.5 million Americans would be fired because of Obamacare.
Has anything the Republicans have said about the law been true?
--There are no death panels.
--The law doesn't cut Medicare benefits.
--It doesn't add to the deficit (it reduces it by $109 billion over ten years).
--It's not a government takeover.
--It does not cover abortions or emergency contraceptives that prevent implantation.
--It's not unconstitutional.
--There won't be any IRS goon squads breaking down your door.
--Medical care will not be rationed.
--Most of the provisions in the law are extremely popular, even among Republican voters.
--It's not socialized medicine and most of it, including the mandate, was invented by Republicans in the first place.
--Congress is not "exempt" from Obamacare.
--The law will create jobs, not "kill" 2.5 million of them.
--And, yes, this ridiculous GOP House bill intended to "save workers" will add to the deficit and strip a million workers of their insurance.
Seeing all of the wrongness in one place is actually kind of breathtaking. They haven't been right about anything when it comes to the ACA. Not a damn thing.