The Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” is the ultimate political Rorschach test. The latest data relating to the plan is the newest case-in-point.
Depending on whom you ask, the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate that there will likely be a reduction in the total number of hours worked – the equivalent of 2.5 million fewer full-time workers - because of Obamacare means one of two things: either it is the ultimate job killer, or it’s relieving workers who are only in their jobs for health insurance.
The lengthy budget office report, called “The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024,” spends fewer than 30 pages on the ACA, but it states more than once that jobs will not be lost, per se:
“The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor workers choose to supply, rather than a net drop in businesses’ demands for labor. ...”
Yet many news outlets told a different story. To Republicans, the gloomy headlines that splashed across media outlets a week ago were damning for Democrats, including Congressional District 13 candidate Alex Sink.
“Alex Sink’s campaign was just delivered a devastating blow with the latest CBO report that shows Obamacare will destroy 2 million jobs throughout the country,” said Republican National Congressional Committee spokeswoman Kate Prill, adding it “might have just sunk Sink’s campaign.”
David Jolly, Sink’s Republican opponent, used the alarming headlines to his advantage.
“Most importantly, I will work to help overturn the mess that is Obamacare and the job-crippling and costly regulations that promise to slow our economy, reduce our labor force, and hurt Pinellas County businesses and families,” Jolly said in a statement heralding his endorsement from the National Federation of Independent Business.
Sink and Democrats have a different read on the law, and say once one looks beyond last week’s headlines, the report isn’t so scary.
“Now that people are really actually reading the report, they’re seeing that what they actually said was that we’re going to just have movement in the workforce,” Sink said. “I’ve had friends over the years who have told me that they were unhappy in their jobs but they were stuck because they had to have a job that had health insurance. So it makes sense to me that there are going to be millions of people, probably, who now, with access to the health care exchanges, they can finally do what they want to do with their lives – either start a business, or go and work part time, and not be so tethered to a dead-end job that they can’t stand to go to work every day just because there’s health insurance.”
Democrat groups say Republicans are purposefully twisting the budget office findings to mislead the public into thinking millions are going to involuntarily lose their jobs.
“Voters in Pinellas County are smart – much smarter than Republicans give them credit for –and they know the consequences of David Jolly’s plan to repeal Obamacare means eliminating consumer protections and going back to the days when insurance companies controlled individuals’ health care decisions,” said Andy Stone, a spokesman for the House Majority PAC, a Democratic group.