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Republican Doublespeak

Republicans who are gearing up to repeal the health care reform bill are trying to make the case that health care reform is bad for jobs. They even named the repeal bill the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act”. Now they are claiming that 650,000 jobs will be lost as a result of HCR, based on an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office.

But the actual estimate by the CBO is that a small number of people — around half a percent — will choose to leave their jobs voluntarily. As economist Paul Fronstin put it “People voluntarily working less isn’t the same as employers cutting jobs”. Or economist Paul Van de Water, who says “The number doesn’t mean what they say it means”.

These are people who are stuck in a job they don’t want but stay there because they need health insurance. I personally know a couple of people in that position — they hate their current job but can’t leave because they would lose their health insurance. Some of these people are close to retirement age, but are waiting until they become eligible for Medicare. Some are younger and want to start a company, but can’t because they need health insurance.

So the Republicans take this report and twist it around 180 degrees and call it “jobs lost”, but in reality it should more accurately be called jobs gained! After all, if someone voluntarily gives up their job, that obviously means there is likely a job opening for someone else. And not only that, but the company that trades a worker who hates their job but stays there for the health insurance for someone who actually wants the job probably gains a more productive worker. It’s a win-win!

Not to mention those people who will be able to leave their current jobs to start new companies. Think of how many new jobs that will create.

Of course, the only job loss that these politicians care about is losing their own jobs. But in their world, black is white, and jobs gained is jobs lost. And some people will believe them.

UPDATE: Good news. Republican and former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist says that Republicans should drop their efforts to repeal the current HCR bill and instead build on the current legislation:

It is the law of the land and it is the platform, the fundamental platform, upon which all future efforts to make that system better, for that patient, for that family, will be based. And that is a fact. I know the discussion of Washington is repeal and I’m sure we will come back to that discussion … [The bill] has many strong elements. And those elements, whatever happens, need to be preserved, need to be cuddled, need to be snuggled, need to be promoted and need to be implemented.

Frist also said the current bill was “beautiful on paper” and that Republicans should “love” the fact it adopts a “federalism” approach to health care. Note that Frist made his fortune from the family-founded for-profit hospital chain Hospital Corporation of America.

UPDATE 2: As usual, let’s give Jon Stewart the (hilarious) last word on this:



  1. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Just to show a potential “other” side to this debate. You all know I believe HCR is necessary, but this version’s funding scheme is lacking, severely. This link more clearly extracts coming tax increases to pay for HCR in part and you can see the taxes on businesses that may impact jobs. These are the “down deep in the bill” pieces Nancy said we’ll have to pass to see whats in it.

    As an add on, the funding we’ve discussed concerning HCR (and deficit savings/spending from CBO) does not include the cost of implementing the bill, which will be very substantial.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    I know you keep harping on that point, but the point of this article is that the Republicans are attacking HCR because they claim that it will cost jobs, but their main evidence is a blatant lie.

    Not only that, but if paying for health care is such a issue, why did the Republicans force Medicare Part D (the prescription benefit) down the throat of Congress, which was completely unfunded. ( Why aren’t they working to repeal that? By your logic, Medicare Part D cost far more jobs than HCR will.

    I’m happy to hear other sides to this debate, but you are just changing the subject.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Permalink
  3. PatriotSGT wrote:

    How is showing the actual pieces of the bill that could effect jobs loss/gain changing the subject? This is the nuts and bolts of where the CBO numbers come from.
    Why when CBO says repealing HCR will cost 250 bill doesn’t anyone question, but when CBO says something that does not support your viewpoint it gets rebuked instantly. As a person who helps small business get going are you fully aware of future cost increases for your clients?
    I just do not think this bill is funded, its all smoke and mirrors and robbing peter to pay paul. As for medicare Part D, I can’t say, but if it was so bad why did’nt the Dems get rid of it or modify when they had the super majority, or get rid of it inside the HCR bill? They are not without some culpability in this, no?

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Permalink
  4. TJ wrote:

    This post is about the Republican’s blatant attempt to spread misinformation by naming their repeal bill “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act”. It’s not in any way about anything you talked about in either post. Maybe IK is wrong, but you’re not convincing anyone of it by talking about something else entirely. In fact, you don’t even seem to be trying to do so.

    Also, no one rebuked the CBO numbers. The Republicans misued them, as stated by economists. IK believes the CBO numbers in this case, he just doesn’t want Republicans to lie about them.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Permalink
  5. Iron Knee wrote:

    The CBO numbers, as I stated, were primarily based on people voluntarily leaving their jobs (retiring early, etc.). They had nothing to do with the financing of the bill.

    And, I actually disagree with you about the funding of HCR. I believe there is plenty of waste in our current health insurance system that can be used to fund universal coverage. After all, we pay way more than any other industrialized nation for worse results.

    I do agree with you that even if Health Care Reform were paid entirely by new taxes, I would be happy to have my taxes raised in order to have universal health insurance in this country. And from my experience starting new companies, that would help stimulate the economy dramatically and might even pay for itself (or at least do a better job of paying for itself than “trickle down economics”). But let me be clear, even if it didn’t pay for itself, I would be in favor of raising taxes in order to pay for real health care reform. We pay trillions to fight terrorism, which killed a few thousand people. Lack of adequate health insurance kills more than ten times that number, every single year.

    But you take what’s politically possible. Palin and other Republicans almost scuttled HCR with their blatant lies about “death panels“. I’m happy for the first step we have taken, and look forward to future progress. But repeal is not progress. If the Republicans came out with a new HCR bill that was visibly better than the current HCR bill, I would gladly support replacing the current bill. But oh yeah, the current bill *WAS* the Republican plan back in the days of Clinton.

    By supporting these lying hypocrites, you just look like a tool, PatriotSgt. It is beneath you.

    And by the way, the current HCR bill DOES fix Medicare Part D. It eliminates the donut hole, and fixes other things (but Republicans did manage to block allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices, which should be fixed).

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink
  6. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    Patriot: “Why when CBO says repealing HCR will cost 250 bill doesn’t anyone question, but when CBO says something that does not support your viewpoint it gets rebuked instantly.”

    Yea, it would be really dumb for someone to agree with the CBO for political opportunism:

    And then go against the CBO because the CBO said something they don’t agree with:

    This is completely ignoring your misunderstanding of the original article as TJ points out.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Permalink
  7. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Let me be clear in that I don’t support liars, I just don’t accept anything at face value unless I’ve got facts to work with. I agree w/1032 that both sides play the CBO game. They feed assumptions to get the results they want.

    As you know I have advocated many times for a payroll tax to properly fund HCR. I do think the penalties for businesses that don’t offer what the Govt says is “proper” HC will keep some small companies from hiring that 50th (or more) person. I also think it’s hypocritical to give out exceptions to 200+ large companies (i’d like to see the campaign contributions from those) while the small guys have to just take it.
    I don’t necessarily want HCR repealed, because if that were to happen (and it won’t) it would never get back on the table. I don’t listen to anyone who says repeal and who also doesn’t have a sound viable alternative. I have not to date seen/heard of any option from republicans and so I don’t support repeal.
    1. lets fix whats wrong with this bill
    2. lets properly fund this so it won’t either cut from other important programs, hurt the economy, or increase our debt. Lets do a payroll tax and we’ll all pay for it.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Permalink
  8. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    I’ve noticed that often when you “agree” with me, you restate what I said such that it becomes quite a different animal. I said nothing about both sides, nor did I say anything about anyone “feeding assumptions” to the CBO to get what they want.

    You falsely accused ‘someone’ of blindly accepting CBO numbers (debt if repealed) because it suited them, and ignoring CBO numbers (jobs lost due to bill) when it didn’t. That isn’t at all what happened in this case. The jobs lost figure is completely misstated. I trust the CBO because they are non-partisan experts. If the ‘debt if repealed’ number is wrong, then feel free to explain it. Much like they did to explain why the ‘jobs lost’ figure was wrong.

    The only people who are ignoring the CBO when it suits them are the Republicans as I mentioned previously. There are saints and sinners on both sides of the aisle but this “they all do it!” false equivalency is becoming stale very quickly.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Permalink
  9. PatriotSGT wrote:

    On the cost of repeal, how can something that is going to cost (an estimate by the CBO) nearly 1 trillion to fund, cost more to stop. The CBO even stated the following:

    “Responding to an inquiry from Rep. Paul Ryan, the Congressional Budget Office has confirmed that when you remove certain accounting gimmicks from the Democrats’ health care legislation, it actually increases the deficit.”

    So which CBO report do we believe. CBO is non-partisan and non-political, which means they run the #’s based on what they are given. What is the truth? It’s in the eye of the asker.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Permalink
  10. Iron Knee wrote:

    hee hee, I didn’t even have to use the words “false equivalency”! Thanks guys!

    And I love it — American Spectator says that the CBO confirmed that Democrats use accounting gimmicks but doesn’t actually give a reference to anything the CBO says. Sheesh.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Permalink
  11. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    Patriot: “The CBO even stated the following:”

    No, they didn’t.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Permalink
  12. jonah wrote:

    I get it. The bill’s not perfect. Whats the alternative and is it better to tear this apart and take another few decades to come up with the perfect bill or build on this one? I don’t see the republicans come up with an idea of their own.

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 2:47 am | Permalink
  13. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Jonah – you’re absolutely correct. The repubs have not put any comparable offer on the table, and possibly because they know the bill cannot be repealed. In my world they’d be doing push-ups until they learned the right way to complain (identify the problem and propose a solution) 🙂

    For the rest, here is a link to an article in Politico about Ryan defending the head of the CBO saying he does his jobb well. The article goes on to candidly explain how CBO basically creates its documents with user supplied data. This is their job and both sides agree. So I guess what would be helpful in analyzing CBO reports is having the conditions or assumptions they were given to create the analysis.


    Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 6:54 am | Permalink
  14. starluna wrote:

    As a researcher, I prefer to go to the sources of information, rather than relying on twice interpreted, three times removed presentations. That’s not always possible, but in this case, you can find the CBO reports here:

    The CBO does respond to questions posed to it, although it does not “rely” on data provided to it. The CBO is an authoritative source precisely because of its standards with regards to data and research design. The assumptions in their reports are directly the result of the questions asked. So, if the CBO is asked what the costs of HCR would be if everyone would live to be 100, then one of their assumptions is the average life expectancy is 100, which leads to all kinds of changes in terms of costs of care. Other assumptions that are not related to the specific questions asked are fair game, in my opinion, but only if you know enough about macro-scale health care economics to criticize using a specific life expectancy, discount rate, etc.

    If you get anything out of these reports it is that, in order for HCR to be relatively deficit neutral in the long term, there are a number of things that have to be put in place. That is good to know and if the Democrats were serious about making this work, they would grow the cajones needed to put in the doc fix (which is over 20 years in coming), get rid of that stupid Medicare Part D program, put in place the Cadillac tax, and whatever other reasonable measures are needed to make this work.

    It would be legitimate to argue that HCR won’t work if these fixes aren’t put in place. In my view, it isn’t reasonable to argue that it won’t work because you refuse to put those fixes in place. Those fixes were needed to control health care costs with or without HCR. Refusing to put them in place because it would make HCR work, as the Republican strategy seems to imply, is simply being obstructionist.

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 8:51 am | Permalink
  15. Iron Knee wrote:

    Thanks, Starluna.

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 10:19 am | Permalink
  16. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Great info, good discussion, interesting suggestions. I always learn a lot here and hopefully give the intellectuals something to ponder.

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Permalink
  17. Iron Knee wrote:

    PatriotSgt, I do appreciate and respect your input, even if I do tend to argue with your points! Thanks for giving those darn intellectuals (whoever they might be) something to ponder!

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Permalink