In a new partisan tussle over election messaging that is likely to
color this year's congressional mid-term campaign, Democratic
lawmakers said a predicted drop in work hours brought about by
Obamacare would mean more family time for mothers, more study
opportunities for college students and less job stress for older
"The single mom, who's raising three kids (and) has to keep a job
because of healthcare, can now spend some time raising those kids.
That's a family value," Democratic Senator Charles Schumer said on
NBC's Sunday program, "Meet the Press."
He was responding to a fiscal report from the nonpartisan
Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Tuesday that said President
Barack Obama's healthcare law would bring about a drop in work hours
equal to the loss of 2.5 million full-time workers over the next
The change would occur because some workers, particularly those with
lower wages, would limit their hours to avoid losing federal
subsidies that Obamacare provides to help pay for health insurance
and other healthcare costs, according to CBO.
Republicans have seized on the CBO report to help support their own
messaging campaign for middle-class voters, calling its contents
evidence that Obama's signature domestic policy achievement will
reduce full-time employment and hurt the economy unless it is
Both parties are working to craft messages on a range of issues that
can turn out the vote of loyal constituencies in November's off-year
election, which will determine who controls the Senate and House of
Representatives in the final two years of the Obama presidency.
A chief aim of Republicans is to gain control of the Senate by using
Obamacare's unpopularity with voters to discourage support for
vulnerable Democrats in states with large conservative populations.
Democrats have emphasized the law's benefits for people who are
sick, nearing retirement, starting a career or trying to finish up
college. Obama has also challenged Republicans to come up with their
Republicans, who have voted more than 40 times in the House to
repeal or defund Obamacare, have also decided to seek their own
cure. But a single plan for an alternative healthcare policy has
proved elusive so far.
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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires most
Americans to be enrolled in health coverage by March 31 or pay a
penalty. It has already extended health coverage to millions of
Americans by offering subsidized private plans and expanding the
Medicaid program for the poor in participating states.
The CBO said the subsidies, which help people pay health insurance
premiums and out-of-pocket costs, would "reduce incentives to work"
and impose an "implicit tax on working" for those returning to a job
with health insurance.
"Any law you pass that discourages people from working can't be a
good idea. Why would we want to do that? Why would we think that was
a good thing? How does that allow people to prepare for the time
when they don't work?" Senator Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican,
said on "Fox News Sunday."
But Democrats refused to say the report put them on the defensive
politically. Schumer likened the prospect of fewer work hours to the
adoption of the 40-hour work week in the 20th century, which he
described as a benefit that also reduced work hours.
"This is a good thing," said Representative Keith Ellison, a
Minnesota Democrat who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive
"We need a better work-life balance. Ask a working mother if she
could use a few more hours in a day to take care of her family," he
told ABC's "This Week".
Republican Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, who appeared
alongside Ellison on ABC, dismissed the argument out of hand.
"It's great spin. I don't think it's going to work," he said.
(Editing by Jim Loney; editing by Meredith Mazzilli)
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