Obamacare was the central topic which lit off another round of third-grade “he said – he said” political gamesmanship. It was the central topic; it wasn’t the only one. Also pouring fuel onto the flames was the disagreement about the future of the US deficit.
US Deficit Drops to $514 Billion
A congressional report stated Tuesday that the US deficit is set to drop to $514 billion. This will be the lowest level since Obama took office in 2009. Higher tax revenues and brakes applied on agency spending, according to the report, are the reasons for the drop.
However, other budget experts see the deficit as worsening by about $100 billion a year through the end of the decade because of a predicted slowing economy.
Obamacare Gets Mixed Reviews As Well
The same report by the Congressional Budget Office forecasts a shrinking workplace caused by the Affordable Care Act. According to the report, more than two million full-time positions will be lost. The latest figures have stoked the debate between Republicans and Democrats.
The report did note the law will reduce the number of hours worked as well as reduce full-time employment. The Democrats point to the cause of reductions as not being the fault of the ACA. They claim more people are expected to choose not to work and others will choose to work fewer hours.
Senator Harry Reid called the Republicans liars when they talk about millions of jobs lost. “That simply isn’t true,” Reid told CNN.
Despite Reid’s assurances, Republicans jumped on the report as an opportunity to provide evidence of the ACA’s effect on the economy of the nation. The Republican’s predictably pushed back against Reid’s statements and the rest of the day was spent on Capital Hill in an ongoing “he said – he said” kind of day.
The report from the CBO estimates that over six million Americans will sign up. That’s down from a projected seven million which the administration predicted late last year. Expanded Medicaid is now expected to enroll eight million Americans as opposed to the nine million figure touted by administration officials in December.
The long-term outcome of the ACA remains cloudy as the budget office declined to change any coverage projections. The CBO’s office said in the report that as time goes on, more people are projected to sign up as new coverage options come online. A sharp increase in 2015 and 2016 are expected.
The NFL Steps In
While Republicans and Democrats were playing the blame game, Obamacare got a boost from some NFL players on Super Bowl Sunday. Following a suggestion from the White House about some glowing tweets to a representative of the player’s union, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo told his followers, “Don’t forget you can afford healthcare…”
A White House liaison, Kyle Lierman, sent out an email encouraging players to hawk Obamacare in the days before the game. Many of Lierman’s suggested tweets were sent verbatim by several NFL players.
Ayanbadejo tweeted, ““Football fans, hope you’re getting ready for Super Bowl XLVIII, don’t forget you can #getcovered at healthcare.gov.” The tweet was word-for-word from the email Kierman had sent and earned Ayanbadejo a re-tweet from the White House.
Ayanbadejo had good reason to send the tweets. The Baltimore Ravens were the beneficiary of a $130,000 contract from Maryland’s Health Connection to promote Obamacare. The Health Connection is the state’s health agency which enrolls families and individuals in Obamacare.
Although Ayanbadejo’s tweet was the only one to be launched again by the White House, other NFL players also repeated Leirman’s suggested tweets. Donte Stallworth, who was injured in Florida in a hot air balloon accident, was also a big fan of Leirman’s suggestions and stayed busy right through the game sending out tweets supporting Obamacare. Stallworth has played for several NFL teams including the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens.
One observer pointed out that only in America could Obamacare, national deficit and football, three disparate topics, be tied together in a national debate.
Editorial by Jerry Nelson