Like Hot Air, I am gobsmacked: if I had told you yesterday that the White House’s spin on today’s CBO report of DOOM would be that losing the equivalent of 2.3 million workers by 2021 was a good thing you’d have laughed at me as the partisan hack that I was. And I would have laughed, too: because that would have been crazy. Downright loony, even.
[White House Council of Economic Advisors Chairman Jason] Furman argued by definition if someone makes a decision with respect to lowering their weekly hours for the purposes of attaining government assistance that person could not be worse off. “There’s no way you have a set of stuff; you can make exactly the same choice you made before, and now, I give you something else, that you could be — that you’re worse off as a result of that,” he said.
[Fox News reporter Ed] Henry interjected, asking Furman how introducing an incentive for some people to work less is not tantamount to inducing those people to become less productive.
Furman, seeming to sense he was cornered, pivoted to the administration’s talking point that Obamacare in aggregate actually increases economic productivity.
This would be the point where anybody who owns a glass house should board it up, because the pro-government arguments in these situations always seem to involve throwing rocks through the nearest window and calling the resulting cleanup ‘increased economic productivity.’ Look, it’s very simple. Think of an economy as a fire. Think of man-hours of work as fuel. What happens when you reduce the amount of fuel that you add to a fire?
…Look, the terror of it is that I’m not really offering a less sophisticated analysis of the situation than the White House is, OK? Despite the fact that I have not nearly the kind of specialized training and/or education in such matters.
PS: Dana Milbank(!) raises a good point: the White House has leaned quite a bit on the CBO, over the years. Which is great, until it doesn’t work anymore.