Reid: Obamacare Doesn't Cost Jobs, It Turns Workers Into 'Free Agents'
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."