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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Can Someone Get Dana Milbank to Read the Washington Post's Fact Checker Column?

Can Someone Get Dana Milbank to Read the Washington Post's Fact Checker Column?

Wednesday, 05 February 2014 06:19

If Dana Milbank had read this, he wouldn't have written something as silly and misinformed as this.

Comments (10)Add Comment
written by Alex Bollinger, February 05, 2014 6:29
I don't get it. Milbank states pretty clearly that he's talking about labor supply being reduced, not demand. Yes, he quotes a Fox News headline without correcting it towards the bottom of the column, but I don't think that's enough to say that his entire column is contrary to the Fact Checker blog post.

Anyway, I completely disagree with Milbank that reducing labor supply is something terrible. We have enough junk in the US that we could produce 2% less junk without missing it.

Unlike Milbank, most people have jobs that are unpleasant enough that they wouldn't do them if they didn't need the money, and some people have jobs that are so unpleasant that they wouldn't do them unless their lives depended on it. Letting that last group of people off the hook doesn't sound like bad policy to me.
NYT vs. WaPo Editors
written by Robert Salzberg, February 05, 2014 6:43
The NYT had a similar headline concerning the CBO report and has posted the following correction. Anyone willing to bet WaPo will do the same?

"Correction: February 4, 2014
An earlier version of a headline accompanying this article on the home page was incorrect. The health law is projected to result in a voluntary reduction in the work force equal to 2.5 million full-time workers, according to the Congressional Budget Office, not two million fewer jobs."

written by KeithOK, February 05, 2014 7:03
No, I think he still would have written something as silly and misinformed as that. It's the WaPo op ed page, after all.
written by skeptonomist, February 05, 2014 8:21
The CBO report itself seems nonsensical. It says

"The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in businesses’ demand for labor, so it will appear almost entirely as a reduction in labor force participation and in hours worked relative to what would have occurred otherwise rather than as an increase in unemployment"

Workers don't control the number of hours, nor can the CBO predict them. This paragraph contradicts itself - it says there is no net drop in demand for labor and then says there will be a reduction in hours worked. If a number of workers drop out, their places will be taken by the unemployed, causing a net decrease in unemployment. The work force is reduced, not hours.

The CBO does not have a crystal ball or any other means of predicting how many people will drop out, much less how many hours will be demanded of the work force. Anyone could make guesses about these things and there is little that makes the CBO report authoritative or more reliable than any other economic projection - the reliability of any such projection is negligible at more than a year or two. The report itself seems ill-considered, and of course the reaction in the media is absurd.
You could say the same thing about Medicare, IRAs, 401(k)s & Social Security
written by wkj, February 05, 2014 11:33
If Medicare did not exist, millions who are now retired would have a strong incentive to stay in the labor force past age 65 in order to preserve their access to medical insurance at group rates. My guess would be that the labor force shrinkage due to Medicare is much greater than that attributed to the ACA.

Also, doesn't the availability of tax-deferred retirement accounts, IRAs, 401(k)s, etc., shrink the labor force by facilitating sufficient resources for retirement? Ditto Social Security?

I also agree with skeptonomist's technical comments about the coherence of the CBO analysis.
written by PeonInChief, February 05, 2014 11:34
And there is something bad about people deciding to work less--spending more time with family and friends, volunteering in the community, attending cultural events, even gardening?

I noted some time ago that older workers would be sensible if they kept themselves before the 400% cap, as they'd save thousands of dollars in premium costs. I hope that people are able to do the math.
written by urban legend, February 05, 2014 3:45
It shows how much mainstream journalists, if you can stomach calling them that, are in the thrall of the right-wing noise machine. Dana Milbank ought to feel utterly humiliated and contrite by this level of stupidity, but he will continue to double down in defense of himself based on his including some of the right words even though he didn't grasp what they actually mean.

Republicans claim Susan Rice didn't say X immediately after Benghazi (even though she did say X and so did Obama), Big Media dutifully make it headline news (and never thereafter are capable of quoting Rice correctly). Republicans get apoplectic with phony claims of Tea Party groups being unfairly singled out for examination by the IRS, Big Media goes along with the absurd "scandal" storyline. It's a disgrace.
Jesus wept
written by Dennis, February 05, 2014 4:05
The commenters on Milbank's column are just that stupid.
It's a wash
written by jonny bakho, February 06, 2014 5:29
I don't understand how the CBO arrives at workforce reduction. Their are millions of people who are underemployed and unemployed that will fill in the positions vacated by those who don't want to work but need health care. There are thousands of people itching for the old fogey to retire so they can be promoted.

Companies don't hire people they don' t need. When the "need health care" crowd retires people currently out of the workforce or immigrants will take those jobs. Obamacare itself should have no affect on workforce participation. Some people rotate out. Others will take their place.

It's a wash - jonny bakho
written by DJB, February 06, 2014 10:55

disgusting and misleading article by mr milbank

i guess he doesn't really want people to have healthcare so he can be viewed as a 'rational centrist'

a man of "principle", and man who "speaks his mind"

in reality he is just an opportunist, making sure he stays in the rich and powerful club

"tee hee hee, look at those obamacare advocates squirm now"


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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.