Reid: Obamacare Doesn’t Cost Jobs, It Turns Workers Into ‘Free Agents’
February 4, 2014 - 1:01 pm
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the Congressional Budget Office report that shows Obamacare will make the labor force lose 2.3 million full-time workers by 2021 is positive because it lets Americans be “free agents.”
“We have the CBO report, which rightfully says, that people shouldn’t have job lock. If they — we live in a country where there should be free agency. People can do what they want,” Reid told reporters outside of a policy luncheon. “And what they’re saying here is — and the fact checkers have already done this — the Republicans talk about losing millions of jobs simply isn’t true. It allows people to get out of a job they’re locked into, because of — they have healthcare in their job.”
“So my caucus is right on track to understand this. The CBO report is far better for us than it’s not. Republicans should get away from repeal and start talking about some constructive ways to handle the issues that they’re concerned about,” he added.
Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, told CNN that the CBO report was pro-family values — after host Wolf Blitzer called the report “very, very disturbing.”
“What this report said should not suggest this is going to cost jobs. What this report said is a rather obvious point, which is that as people have greater access to healthcare, there is going to be some two-parent families where someone says I’m going to work a little less because we can get healthcare and I’m going spend time raising my children. There is going to be somebody out there who because they can afford healthcare has wanted to retire and may retire earlier. This is about giving Americans more choices,” Sperling said.
“And on the overall impact on what it’s going to mean for jobs, well, I think that’s an incomplete number, because we know that with lower healthcare costs, we’re going to have more productivity, some experts predicting hundreds of thousands of more jobs due to that,” he added.
“Do you accept that number, 2.3 million workers, fewer workers than would have been the case by 2021 because of the Affordable Care Act? That’s in the report,” Blitzer pressed, waving a copy of the document.
“I don’t accept that portrayal. Because that’s implying this is costing jobs, as opposed to just giving more Americans the option,” Sperling replied.
“These people who are working more than they want to simply for healthcare, some of them will have the option of working a little less. And in terms of what the overall impact on jobs will be, I think you’re going to — you have to look at what the impact on productivity is, because people are healthier, working harder, having less sick days. You have to look at, what is the productivity benefits of having lower healthcare costs in our economy. I believe very strongly, and I think it should be very clear, the Affordable Care Act is good for growth, good for job growth, good for deficit reduction. And these numbers should not be misinterpreted to suggest somehow this is costing jobs.”
When Sperling kept quoting the statistic of 8.1 million jobs added in 45 months, Blitzer reminded him that Obamacare didn’t take effect until Oct. 1.
“You could sit there and say that before Social Security happened, somebody would say, oh, people are going to work less hours, because they can retire. Or if you don’t allow child labor, there will be less hours worked, because people are going to school,” Sperling responded.
“These are the types of things that in an advanced economy give people more options and choice. They don’t cost jobs. They give people more options and choice to live their lives as they have. When you have two parents and they’re both working full-time to provide health care, and they don’t feel they’re there to do homework with their kids, and this allows one of the kids to work a little less because they have health care, that’s not costing jobs. That’s giving typical hard-working American families more choices and more options. And that’s a positive thing.”
Said Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) today: “I am growing increasingly alarmed at the Democrats’ refusal to not only discuss solutions to fix this calamity, but also by their denial that a problem even exists with Obamacare at all.”
The CBO report primarily looked at how employers would respond to the penalty for not offering health insurance to employees working more than 30 hours per week. Businesses could respond by cutting people’s hours, hiring fewer workers and offering lower wages to incoming workers.
“The Budget Office does not see unemployment falling below 6% for the rest of President Obama’s term. Six percent for the remainder of his term,” said Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas). “Yet despite all of this, the President still won’t get behind genuine pro-growth reforms, he won’t support genuine reforms of our existing programs like Medicare and Social Security that would actually save them and put them on a fiscally sustainable path. He has no plan for controlling our national debt.”