A CBO Report With Something for Everyone

Both sides can selectively choose facts from the latest report on Obamacare.

Editorial cartoon satirizing Congress.
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Despite the resounding logic embedded in former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s quote that, “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts,” it disregards the way competing partisans craft their own side’s arguments.

Sins of omission, not commission or “truthiness,” are the problems with political spin. No one wants to explain “the whole truth.” And surprise: the reason is because it’s mixed. The whole truth is complicated and nuanced; it rarely redounds exclusively to one side’s benefit.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Congress.]

As National Journal’s Ron Fournier has explained, “both Republicans and Democrats are vastly oversimplifying the [new Congressional Budget Office] report and the effects of the Affordable Care Act.”
While Fournier puts more blame on the GOP for their negative framing and factual cherry-picking, in politics, it’s always good to remember that that was yesterday, this is today. In other words, yesterday’s many inaccurate and cryptic headlines gave the Republicans a gift. And if they hadn’t exploited their myriad messaging opportunities, we’d have to again start wondering about the party’s overall political competency.

But now, that more people have perused and digested the 170-page report, we’re sure to hear a Democratic response, beginning with this statement from the White House.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Republican Party.]

Bumper stickers and Tweets are soon to follow. Here’s a few of the Democratic ones that may yet arise from the facts in the CBO report (available shortly at the Zazzle store).

Unemployment Falling, Inflation No Problem: Obamanomics Works

Translation: “The unemployment rate falls to 5.5 percent by 2024, and inflation stays at 2.0 percent between 2018 and 2024.” (p.27)

Obamacare Flex-hours: Yoga for Your Career

Translation: A shrinking labor force with 2.5 million fewer full-time-equivalent positions by 2024. (p.117)

Deficit Down, Obamacare Up: Democrats Do Government Best

Translation: $514 billion deficit in 2014 and 6 million people to receive insurance through exchanges in 2014. (p.95, 107)

[See a collection of political cartoons on Obamacare.]

National Debt: Still below 1950

Translation: “Debt held by the public increased by more than $700 billion in 2013, reaching 72 percent of GDP, higher than the percentage in 2012 (70 percent) or in any other year since 1950.” (p.16)

Selective extraction and context-free assertions are the currency of political spin. The only way to not be duped by the partisan-crafted CBO-based slogans is to read the report and make up your own mind about the state of the federal budget, the nation’s economy and the benefits and drawbacks of the Affordable Care Act. It’s no thrill-ride novel, but then, no one ever said participating in a democracy was easy.