The media fell all over themselves yesterday to mumble absurdities about the CBO report as it related to Obamacare. It has been documented here quite well - Chuck Todd et. al. seemed to not even read the report before they adopted the republican talking points that the report was a devastating blow for Obamacare, and then when they found out they were wrong, started to say "well the democrats still lose because truth is complicated.
Two news organizations weren't like that, and it's important that we begin to recognize not just when reporters are lazy stenographers, but when they do the work to get it right.
The first piece I saw that got it right was also the strongest one. It was in Newsweek, and it didn't just say "here is what the report says," it went after others in the media for getting it wrong (and suggested they didn't read the report.)
A few choice quotes:
The release of new projections about the impact of the Affordable Care Act has set off a firestorm in Washington about job losses, deficits and people losing coverage. But reading the actual document – rather than the talking points – shows that there is a lot less there than the politicians proclaim.And then there was this:
There have been some reports that Congressional Budget Office estimates show the law – better known as Obamacare – will cause the loss of two million jobs. Not really: What the document says is that people will choose to cut back their work hours because they will have insurance available elsewhere, because subsidies will offset the cost of insurance they might already be paying or because of related tax charges.The Newsweek report doesn't stop at the jobs issue. It also points out what the CBO has to say about the deficit, the debt and the corridors. And it says all of these do not show any issues that can be honestly used to criticize Obamacare, but actually point up things that are benefits from the law. Which led to my absolute favorite, a comment that doesn't hold back in calling BS:
So, when politicians and commentators say that the new CBO report is devastating proof of the terrible impact of Obamacare, just know this: they’re lying.
The Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post came out with a fact-check piece saying the reporting was wrong:
First, this is not about jobs. It’s about workers — and the choices they make.He makes it clear what this "jobs loss" thing is all about:
The CBO’s estimate is mostly the result of an analysis of the impact of the law on the supply of labor. That means how many people choose to participate in the work force. In other words, the nonpartisan agency is examining whether the law increases or decreases incentives for people to work.
Look at this way: If someone says they decided to leave their job for personal reasons, most people would not say they “lost” their jobs. They simply decided not to work.Kessler doesn't deal with the other issues addressed by Newsweek - he sticks solely to the jobs question. On the other hand, the Post otherwise botched the story from the get-go, with its first story bearing the headline that the CBOP had concluded Obamacare would "cost 2 million jobs."
And still standing is Dana Milbank's hokum in the Post, which said:
The congressional number-crunchers, perhaps the capital’s closest thing to a neutral referee, came out with a new report Tuesday, and it wasn’t pretty for Obamacare. The CBO predicted the law would have a “substantially larger” impact on the labor market than it had previously expected: The law would reduce the workforce in 2021 by the equivalent of 2.3 million full-time workers, well more than the 800,000 originally anticipated. This will inevitably be a drag on economic growth, as more people decide government handouts are more attractive than working more and paying higher taxes.So, for those of us keeping score, I think Newsweek should get 5 points for accuracy and the Washington Post 1 point - 5 for getting it right in the fact check, with 4 points demerits for getting it wrong everywhere else.