If Bob Yates hasn’t already most adequately and quite succinctly ridiculed Republican Senator Roy Blunt’s effort to avoid the obviously dishonest position of the Ann Wagners in the GOP, who want to assure the gullible masses that, yes, indeed, the most recent CBO report said that 2.5 million people would lose their jobs, Duane Graham at The Erstwhile Conservative has put finis to the task with a full and detailed takedown of the Fox News Sunday interview with Blunt. Graham and Yates both record the shift in Republican rhetoric from a false story about lost jobs to an ugly story about enabling “moochers” who, Blunt and his fellows imply, just don’t want to work. As Graham puts it:
… notice how Blunt, like all Republicans are now doing and will continue to do until election day this November, focuses on those alleged “2.3 million” people who “don’t want to work” or “don’t have to work.” That is essentially the argument that was made more generally during the 2012 election.
Read both pieces. Roy Blunt deserves everything that Yates and Gaham have to say about his despicable performance.
And when you’re done, read a couple of posts from Paul Krugman’s NYT blog to get a better idea about what is fueling Blunt’s nasty little insinuations and why they’re so bogus. According to Krugman, those who leave the labor force will reduce labor input and decrease GDP somewhat, but the fact that wages and benefits are not being paid to those leaving the labor force would perfectly balance the decrease, rendering the effect neutral, were it not that those individuals would also no longer pay the taxes that correspond to their lost labor. He concludes:
So yes, reduced labor supply adds modestly to the true cost of health reform, although it also adds to the benefits. But the key word is “modestly”.
Why, then, are the usual suspects so incensed? Partly because they don’t understand any of this. Beyond that, there’s a moralistic streak: people should be forced to work, for their own good, you see (are there no poorhouses?). And of course, there’s the underlying rage that a disproportionate share of the beneficiaries (though by no means a preponderance) will be Those People.
But when you take paternalism and prejudice out of the picture, what you’re left with is some pretty prosaic economics. Should you care how much other people work? Yes, a little – but not so much that it should change anyone’s views about health reform.
As to whether or not this shift in Republian rhetoric will have the desired effect, Krugman’s analysis of the initial strategic misfire suggests why it will not – at least, with anybody other than the true believers:
The thing is, my read […] is that the CBO affair actually ended up hurting Republicans. By the end of the week a barrage of press reports, plus those mighty figures Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, had effectively changed the story from “CBO predicts massive job losses” to “Republicans lie about CBO report.” In reality, it’s unlikely that it would have mattered at all even if the first story had stuck. But to the extent that such things matter at all, Republicans ended up losing the week.
It’s hard not to conclude that since everyone who’s paying the slightest attention knows that Republicans have been lying vigorously about the whole CBO business, why should they believe anything that mouthpieces like Blunt now have to say, no matter how much more subtle the latest story happens to be? What is even more interesting, though, is the fact that this exact type of talk, the 47% business, is what helped do Romney in back in 2012. Why does Blunt & Co. think it’ll be more successful now?