Spin Cycle

I get so disheartened listening to political arguments about health care reform.

It’s not that I am a big fan of the bill that finally passed. I would much rather have seen “Medicare for All,” for policy reasons not germane to this post. But I have been astonished by the venom that the bill has engendered. It’s bad enough that crazies like Glenn Beck compare Obama’s effort to provide health care to the uninsured with Nazism. The despicable lie about “death panels,” hyped by Sarah Palin and her ilk, was equally odious. But perhaps the most annoying of these efforts at disinformation has been the recent effort by presumably serious GOP lawmakers to persuade the public that the Affordable Care Act–which they dub sneeringly as “Obamacare”–is a “jobs killer.”

This all started when the Congressional Budget Office reviewed the Act. Along with concluding that the reform bill will reduce the deficit significantly over the next ten years, the CBO noted that the measure will allow a number of people to leave the workforce. Congressional Republicans immediately cited this as evidence the Act was a “job killer.”

What the CBO found, however, had nothing at all to do with the number of jobs. It had to do with the number of people who are currently working only because they need affordable health insurance.

In other words, there are people who are only working because they desperately need employer-sponsored health insurance. These are people who have the means not to work full-time, if they have access to a health insurance market that currently shuts them out. Many of these workers will choose to retire early because they will now be able to buy their own health insurance.

This is what Republicans mean when they say that health care reform is ‘destroying jobs.’

There’s a reason many of us despair of ever having reasoned, rational discussions of policy. When ideology and political posturing trump reality, the common good–not to mention common sense–gets lost in the spin cycle.