Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today highlighted the encouraging news from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will allow millions of Americans to work or retire on their own schedule – a point Republicans have twisted in press releases to suggest the law will shrink the American workforce. Grijalva said the Arizonans and others who have already benefited from the law “understand better than anyone how important it is to have affordable insurance they didn’t have before.”
As the Los Angeles Times reported recently:
The CBO projects that the act will reduce the supply of labor, not the availability of jobs. There’s a big difference. In fact, it suggests that aggregate demand for labor (that is, the number of jobs) will increase, not decrease; but that many workers or would-be workers will be prompted by the ACA to leave the labor force, many of them voluntarily.
As economist Dean Baker points out, this is, in fact, a beneficial effect of the law, and a sign that it will achieve an important goal. It helps “older workers with serious health conditions who are working now because this is the only way to get health insurance. And (one for the family-values crowd) many young mothers who return to work earlier than they would like because they need health insurance. This is a huge plus.”
The CBO report has been misinterpreted and sometimes intentionally misrepresented. As CBO director Doug Elmendorf said during a congressional hearing earlier this week, the Affordable Care Act’s impact on labor demand “spurs employment and would reduce unemployment over the next few years.”
“I encourage everyone reporting this story to dig an inch deeper than the Republican spin to see what the CBO really reported,” Grijalva said. “This is all good news for Arizona, for working Americans and for our economy. Reporting otherwise is lazy, and telling the public otherwise to get a few extra votes is cynical.”