NBC's Todd Whines: 'Unfair' for GOP to Say ObamaCare Will Cost Jobs

Following White House talking points to the letter on Wednesday's The Daily Rundown on MSNBC, host Chuck Todd bemoaned how "Republicans immediately seized on" the Congressional Budget Office report on ObamaCare costing the economy over 2 million jobs "and spun it the way they want to spin it." He fretted that Democrats would have a tough time defending ObamaCare "in the world of sound bites and 30-second TV ads." [Listen to the audio]

Talking to former CBO director Doug Holtz-Eakin minutes later, Todd complained: "On health care, a lot of your Republican friends are taking it [the CBO report] and calling it – it is an unfair statement to – they should not be saying this is costing 2 million jobs, is that right?"

Holtz-Eakin pushed back on Todd's assertion:

Not quite. I mean, this is the flip side of the same coin....one way to characterize it is say, "Well, you know, we've given benefits to workers who get them regardless of whether they work or not, and they choose not to. The other way to say it is, employers cannot offer a wage high enough to lure them into the job and make money. You're killing a job either way, it's gone.

Todd replied: "But if the job – it's not as if they're eliminating jobs."

At the top of show, Todd had tried to dispel the notion that ObamaCare would cost jobs: "...the CBO says this decline in the number of Americans working is largely about people's desire to remain in the workforce, not about whether employers think the law is too costly to hire people....the CBO isn't saying that the health care law is cutting or killing 2.5 million jobs."

While it's true that the CBO report does not speak to current employees be fired over ObamaCare, it does conclude that 2.5 million people will give up working in order to receive governments subsidies instead. Not exactly the formula for growing a struggling economy.  

The network evening newscasts on Tuesday all pushed the same White House spin Todd promoted.

Here are excerpts of Todd on the February 5 Daily Rundown:

9:02AM ET

(...)

CHUCK TODD: It's been one sentence that's dominated the coverage of the [CBO] report over the last 24 hours – which Republicans immediately seized on and will put in TV ads this fall – and it's this, on the effect of the health care law on the economy. From the CBO, quote, "The reduction in CBO's projections of hours worked represents a decline in the number of full-time equivalent workers of about 2 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024.

Now cutting through the Washington-speak, the CBO says this decline in the number of Americans working is largely about people's desire to remain in the workforce, not about whether employers think the law is too costly to hire people. Quote, "Workers will choose to supply less labor – given the new taxes and other incentives they will face and the financial benefits some will receive." For example, under the health care law, a 62-year-old worker might decide to retire from his job because he can obtain health insurance on the exchanges or expanded Medicaid rather than through his employer.

The CBO makes it clear by saying it this way, quote, "It will appear almost entirely as a reduction in labor force participation and in hours worked relative to what would have occurred otherwise rather than an increase in unemployment (more worker seeking but not finding jobs) or underemployment (such as part-time workers who would prefer to work more hours per week)."

Now the CBO isn't saying that the health care law is cutting or killing 2.5 million jobs. But in the world of sound bites and 30-second TV ads, it will be tougher for Democrats to argue that the health care law isn't having an impact on the economy.

Unsurprisingly, Republicans immediately seized on the report and spun it the way they want to spin it. House Speaker John Boehner rushed out a statement, quote, "The middle class is getting squeezed in this economy and this CBO report confirms that ObamaCare is making it worse." Then there was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who blasted out this release, "ObamaCare to print even more pink slips," ignoring the fact that the report was focused on supply, not demand.

(...)

9:11AM ET

TODD: On health care, a lot of your Republican friends are taking it and calling it – it is an unfair statement to – they should not be saying this is costing 2 million jobs, is that right?

DOUG HOLTZ-EAKIN [FORMER CBO DIRECTOR]: Not quite. I mean, this is the flip side of the same coin. If you go to the end of this, 2024, the CBO is basically saying, "Look, supply equals demand, we're back to full employment." So one way to characterize it is say, "Well, you know, we've given benefits to workers who get them regardless of whether they work or not, and they choose not to. The other way to say it is, employers cannot offer a wage high enough to lure them into the job and make money. You're killing a job either way, it's gone.

TODD: But if the job – it's not as if they're eliminating jobs.

HOLTZ-EAKIN: They're – it is an unsurprising result that if you hand out a trillion dollars in benefits to people, whether they work or not, put about $600 billion in taxes in, and add a couple hundred billion dollars in regulations, that you don't create jobs. So this shouldn't surprise anyone, CBO just put the numbers on it.

(...)

— Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.