Democrats tried on Sunday to spin news from the latest Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which found that over 2 million workers would eventually limit work hours in order to avoid losing federal health care subsidies.
“Well, a significant number of these people are in job lock,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.). “They're in the employment solely because that's their only option to get health benefits. Now, individuals have other options. This is a voluntary choice. … whether you want to work or not.”
“The point I want to raise is that these jobs will be filled. It's not going to have an impact on our economy. We have people waiting to work. So, these jobs are all filled. Our economy will move forward.”
Republicans have seized on the CBO report, pointing to it as yet another shortcoming in the president’s signature legislation. Some Democrats maintained the White House’s argument that the findings are not bad, but evidence of more “choice.” Others deflected questions, focusing on the broad benefits.
Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) emphasized the “bottom line” when asked about recent problems with the law.
“Face the Nation” asked Durbin about new reports that the administration will allow individuals who have purchased insurance through the marketplace, and have been displeased, to “switch health plans to a limited degree.”
“Let's look at the bottom line,” Durbin said. “The bottom line is this: Ten million Americans have health insurance today who would not have had it without the Affordable Compare Act. Ten million. We can also say this it is going to reduce the deficit more than we thought it would. We were seeing a decline in the growth of cost of health care.”
Schumer used similar generalized descriptions when it came to the CBO report.
“The bottom line is very simple,” Schumer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“What CBO said is that many American workers would have freedom … freedom to do things they couldn't do. The single mom who is raising three kids has to keep a job because of health care can now spend some time raising those kids. That's a family value. The student, 27 years old, who wants to finish school quickly so he can get a great job, can't because he needs health care, is now free.”
Cardin also maintained, “the bottom line is that now, everyone will have access to affordable health care, before they didn't.”
Conservatives, however, were not swayed by the arguments.
Rep. Tom Cole (R., Okla.) told ABC’s “This Week,” that the significance of the CBO’s finding is that the law will discourage work. While that may not be negative in every situation, Cole said, “discouraging work is not something we need to be doing right now. Making our economy marginally less productive is not a good thing.”
“It's not like this is the only flaw in Obamacare,” Cole continued, “We've got a raft of them to talk about.”
“The spin on this is incredible,” said S.E. Cupp, host of CNN’s “Crossfire.”
“Congressman Cole is right. We have a lot of things to talk about on Obamacare. But on [the CBO report], 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 to develop welfare programs that disincentivize work the least because disincentivizing work has always been a bad idea. Now for Democrats, it's suddenly freedom.”
“I think the American public sees through that,” Cupp said. “It's a transparent effort. It's spin.”