If you’re curious about what I used to do as a PR guy for the health insurance industry, how I often took facts and figures and twisted them to advance a specific political or financial agenda, take a look at the behavior of some members of Congress last week.
Like I used to do, they took numbers in a report from a government agency — in this case the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office — and twisted their meaning to suggest something never intended by the report’s authors. Like I used to do, they misled the public with statistics to advance their team’s ultimate agenda, which, of course, is to win votes in November. And if getting people to vote against their own best interests means making comments that not only are dishonest but also contradict what they’ve said previously, so be it.
I have to wonder if, also like my former me, they have trouble sleeping at night.
At issue is a section of the CBO’s 10-year budget and economic outlook, which was released last Tuesday. The agency’s economists updated their previous estimates that 800,000 fewer Americans might be working in 2017 because of the Affordable Care Act than would have been the case if Congress had not passed the law. The economists now believe that the number might actually be closer to 2 million and maybe 2.5 million by 2024.
The CBO never suggested that those jobs would be “lost” or that hundreds of thousands or millions of people would be laid off because of Obamacare. Rather, the law is expected to reduce the labor participation rate, meaning that many people will choose of their own free will not to stay in jobs because they need the health insurance.