Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman called out the media's disastrous reporting on the employment impact of Obamacare.
On February 4, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its 10-year economic projections, including an estimate of how the Affordable Care Act will impact the job market, an estimate that set off a storm of reaction. The CBO projected that the Affordable Care Act will allow workers to choose to work less hours because they will be able to maintain health insurance coverage outside of employment. Instead of reporting on the CBO's actual findings, media outlets seized on this information to falsely claim that the ACA would cost the economy millions of lost jobs.
Appearing on Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, economist Paul Krugman called the misleading reporting "media malpractice":
In a February 6 New York Times column, Krugman explained that the misreporting of the CBO's projections is part of a "campaign against health reform" that has "grabbed hold of any and every argument it could find against insuring the uninsured, with truth and logic never entering into the matter":
Why was this unhelpful? Because politicians and, I'm sorry to say, all too many news organizations immediately seized on the 2 million number and utterly misrepresented its meaning. For example, Representative Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, quickly posted this on his Twitter account: "Under Obamacare, millions of hardworking Americans will lose their jobs and those who keep them will see their hours and wages reduced."
So was Mr. Cantor being dishonest? Or was he just ignorant of the policy basics and unwilling to actually read the report before trumpeting his misrepresentation of what it said? It doesn't matter -- because even if it was ignorance, it was willful ignorance. Remember, the campaign against health reform has, at every stage, grabbed hold of any and every argument it could find against insuring the uninsured, with truth and logic never entering into the matter.
Think about it. We had the nonexistent death panels. We had false claims that the Affordable Care Act will cause the deficit to balloon. We had supposed horror stories about ordinary Americans facing huge rate increases, stories that collapsed under scrutiny. And now we have a fairly innocuous technical estimate misrepresented as a tale of massive economic damage.
Meanwhile, the reality is that American health reform -- flawed and incomplete though it is -- is making steady progress. No, millions of Americans won't lose their jobs, but tens of millions will gain the security of knowing that they can get and afford the health care they need.