Republicans see political boost from new report on health care


McClatchy Washington Bureau

For weeks, Republicans have adopted a new mantra on the Affordable Care Act: It's costing jobs and it's costing those with jobs hours.

 Tuesday, a new Congressional Budget Office report gave them fresh ammunition. The report said it would cost the equivalent of 2 million jobs, though it also said the law would help the overall economy.

Democrats saw political gain of their own. But as soon as the report came out, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell was ready with an argument that Republicans will be repeating throughout the election season.

"It's not a surprising report," he said. "All the anecdotes you hear all across the country are that premiums are going up and jobs are being lost

"And the tragedy of it all, in addition to the loss of jobs, is you've got once again an estimate from CBO that when all is said and done, if it all kicks in, you've still got 30 million uninsured."

 Republicans need a net gain of six seats to win control of the Senate, and Obamacare is going to be a major weapon in efforts to defeat Democrats in more conservative states.

"You've to keep making reforms in what you go," said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. "There's never been a move toward the president on this."

It's a problem for Democrats in those states, said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. "If they move away from this, they're going to have a hard time expressing why they supported it in the first place," he said.

 Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, was quick to defend the health care law.

 "This won't be the last report," he said. "It talks about the savings we have in Obamacare."

 "No matter what it is," Reid said, "Their goal is to repeal it.

"We have the CBO report, which rightfully says that people shouldn't have job lock. If they -- we live in a country where there should be free agency. People can do what they want. And what they're saying here is -- and the fact-checkers have already done this -- the Republicans' talk about losing millions of jobs simply isn't true. It allows people to get out of a job they're locked into because of they have health care in their job. Now there's lots of opportunities for health care.

"So my caucus is right on track to understand this. The CBO is far better for us than it's not. Republicans should get away from repeal and start talking about some constructive ways to handle the issues that they're concerned about.

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