What’s in a Name?
Wednesday evening, the House of Representatives will vote on the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act,” which would undo the Affordable Care Act, the historic health care reform legislation signed into law last March. The repeal legislation’s name is a misnomer though – the Associated Press and McClatchy News Service both ran important stories today demonstrating that the Affordable Care Act is not “job-killing.” From McClatchy’s analysis:
Saying that the law is a job killer doesn’t necessarily make it one, however, and independent experts say that such a conclusion is at least premature, if not unfounded.
House Republicans defend their job-killer claim in a 19-page Jan. 6 report, “ObamaCare: A Budget-Busting, Job-Killing Health Care Law.” But some of its points are out of date or omit offsetting information that would weaken the argument.
And the AP’s report fleshes out the roots of the deceptive “job-killing” rhetoric:
It cites the 650,000 lost jobs as Exhibit A, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office as the source of the original analysis behind that estimate. But the budget office, which referees the costs and consequences of legislation, never produced the number.
What follows is a story of how statistics get used and abused in Washington.
What CBO actually said is that the impact of the health care law on supply and demand for labor would be small. Most of it would come from people who no longer have to work, or can downshift to less demanding employment, because insurance will be available outside the job.
Fortunately it’s unlikely that the Democratic leadership in the Senate will take up health care repeal, and even if this legislation were to pass, President Obama has pledged to veto it. However, the House vote isn’t just political theater. It’s an early move in a long-term political strategy to defund and dismantle the Affordable Care Act, and future flashpoints such as the federal budget are fast approaching. Many opponents of reform have resorted to dubious claims over the course of the long-running healthcare debate, from “death panels” to misleading abortion rhetoric to a “government takeover of healthcare” to misinformation about the deficit and now “job-killing health care.” Our country and our political process deserve better than this. We desperately need more civil debate, and we cannot have civility without honesty.