Behind the Numbers: What the CBO Baseline Really Says about Obamacare and the Economy

February 4, 2014

Key Facts Ignored As White House Turns to Chairman of Council of Economic Advisors in Panicked Attempt to Defend CBO Analysis

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office today delivered a harsh reality check for defenders of the health care law. In its updated baseline, CBO estimated that, because of the president’s health care law, by 2024 there would be 2.5 million fewer full-time employees. The news was so devastating that the White House Press Secretary brought in the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Jason Furman, for the press briefing to take the incoming fire from the news media. Furman’s claim: The health care law is great for the economy! It gives people the choice not to work or to work fewer hours because they have access to taxpayer-subsidized health care.

That’s right. The Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers wants you to believe that a law that will lead to 2.5 million fewer full-time employees is good for the economy.

The White House deliberately ignored the fact that 2.5 million fewer full-time jobs means fewer people paying into Social Security, less money being earned to spend elsewhere in the economy, and more people relying on taxpayer-funded subsidies to purchase health care through the health law’s exchanges.

Reuters explains, “According to the report, federal subsidies can be substantial, particularly for lower-wage workers who receive more under the law’s sliding income scale. But that also means the benefits can be phased out as a worker’s income rises. ‘The phaseout effectively raises people’s marginal tax rates (the tax rates applying to their last dollar of income), thus discouraging work,’ CBO said.”  

But the White House brushed aside that alarming analysis. NBC News reports, “Obama spokesman Jay Carney said the CBO analysis was incomplete. … ‘CBO does not take into account positive impacts on worker productivity due to the ACA’s role in improving workers’ health, including reduced absenteeism.’” But the question remains, how does working fewer hours not cut back on productivity?

While at the podium today, Furman repeatedly emphasized: “This is people having new choices.” But the fact is, the president’s health care law forces people to purchase health care they cannot afford, leaving them with no choice but to comply with the law’s individual mandate. The better choice is a health care law that does not stand squarely in the way of growth and innovation, a health care law that gives the American people freedom, flexibility, and peace of mind that they have access to the best, most affordable health care coverage that suits them and their families.

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