The Chatter: Congressional Budget Office's report on ACA and Farm Bill play into U.S. race narrative

02/05/2014 02:20 PM

UPDATED: Kentucky U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell is adding to his criticism of the Affordable Care Act as a new study estimates the law’s potential effect on the labor market.

A report from the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office released Tuesday says two million people could leave the workforce as a result of the Affordable Care Act — either by choice or potentially because of employers’ decisions to cut back full-time positions.

The CBO report says some will choose to remain on Medicaid rather than taking a job with reduced wages while others could avoid returning to full-time work in order to retain the subsidies for private insurance provided under the law.

The report reads:

The reduction in CBO’s projections of hours worked represents a decline in the number of full-time-equivalent workers of about 2.0 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024. Although CBO projects that total employment (and compensation) will increase over the coming decade, that increase will be smaller than it would have been in the absence of the ACA.

McConnell, who has been one of the most vocal critics of the law, said the report was “not surprising”.

And the McConnell campaign sent out a statement Tuesday highlighting the report and jabbing at Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes on the issue.

“Voters deserve to know why Alison Lundergan Grimes continues to hide from an issue that impacts the jobs and health care of every Kentuckian instead of clearly explaining why she supports implementing Obamacare,” McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore said in the statement.

Democrats, including the White House, have rushed to downplay the report. They have pointed to the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler’s piece clarifying that the report doesn’t say jobs will disappear but is about “about workers — and the choices they make.”

Grimes campaign puts emphasis on jobs
The Grimes campaign, meanwhile, released a web ad called “Kentucky Jobs Action Plan,” highlighting Grimes’ Jobs Action Plan for the state, the main focus of her campaign.

The video, which features footage from Grimes’ policy speech in Prestonsburg , is in step with her recent message of wanting to put Kentuckians back to work while arguing that McConnell will not offer a job plan. The campaign recently launched a website asking McConnell for a jobs plan.

Grimes has also recently given policy speech on the issue of jobs in Northern Kentucky and plans to hold a similar event in Louisville Thursday.

Opponents on both sides hit McConnell on Farm Bill
A 5-year farm bill is predicted to save the country $23 billion over 10 years savings now that a compromise on the legislation passed both chambers of Congress after two years of wrangling.

To achieve those savings, the new farm bill ends the practice of giving direct cash subsidies to farmers, a practice costing $4 million dollars annually, and cracks down on a practice known as “heat-and-eat” where food stamps households can receive higher fuel benefits through low-income heating assistance.

Also included in the bill is a provision allowing pilot programs to grow hemp in Kentucky, a provision McConnell took credit for securing in the final bill.

Ahead of the vote in the Senate on the bill, the Grimes campaign released a statement urging McConnell to “follow her lead” and do what’s best for Kentucky.

“Rather than championing passage, McConnell has been a leading obstacle to Congress passing a new Farm Bill that gives Kentucky farmers the certainty and assistance they deserve. It is reprehensible that we have a senior senator who plays politics with Kentuckians’ livelihood,” Grimes said ahead of McConnell voting ‘yes’ on the bill.

But because of his vote in favor of the compromise, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin, who grew up on a small farm in New Hampshire, said in a statement that McConnell failed Kentuckians by handing the president “another big government program.”

“Between the federal government’s massive overreach into the free markets and the fact that 80 percent of spending is going to welfare programs, this is a sad excuse for a ‘farm bill,” Bevin said. “Only in Washington, can something touted as a ‘cut’, result in a projected increase on food stamp spending from $406 to $756 billion.”

In response, the McConnell campaign said the criticism of McConnell’s vote from Bevin is not relevant.

“We don’t expect a New England millionaire to understand Kentucky farm families but if Bevin ever spoke to our farmers he would understand the importance of this bill to Kentucky agriculture,” McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore said in a statement to Pure Politics.

One other last-minute agreement between the House and Senate was to dial back the transparency of who receives farm subsidies. The public now will have no idea which farmers get them or how much.

(CORRECTION: This post has been updated clarifying the CBO’s report on the Affordable Care Act)

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Pure Politics airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. ET and again at 11:30 p.m. ET in all of cn|2's Kentucky markets. The program features political analysis and news, as well as interviews with officials, candidates, policy makers and political observers.


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