Schumer: 'What CBO Said Is That Many American Workers Would Have Freedom'

Susan Jones | February 10, 2014 | 6:57am EST
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Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) (AP File Photo)

( - Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) suggested on Sunday that freedom means not working if you don't want to.

Asked about a Congressional Budget Office report that said several million Americans will drop out of the workforce in coming years to take advantage of Obamacare subsidies, Schumer gave his own interpretation of that report:

"Bottom line is very simple," he told NBC's "Meet the Press." "What CBO said is that many American workers would have freedom. Now that's a good word, freedom to do things that they couldn't do.

"The single mom who's raising three kids, has to keep a job because of health care, can now spend some time raising those kids. That's a family value. The student, 27 years old, wants to finish school quickly so he can get a great job, can't because he needs health care, is now free."

Schumer also argued that when  people such as the single mom and the student leave their jobs in the years ahead, other people will take those jobs. And if there's full employment and there's no one to take the jobs, "it will raise wages," he said. "So this is a net plus."

But Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), appearing with Schumer on "Meet the Press," said he's "worried about the American worker."

"We've got in our country right now a 35-year low in terms of labor participation. We don't have as many people in the workforce as we had during the recession...and yet, you have Democrats almost giddy about the fact that, oh boy, now we're going to have fewer people in the workforce. That doesn't help the workers. It doesn't help in terms of fighting poverty.

"So, look -- and CBO was very clear. They said this is going to result in fewer people wanting to work. What they didn't say...which is going to make this even worse...many employers are not hiring people because of Obamacare."

In its recent report, the CBO stated that Obamacare's subsidies will "reduce incentives to work."

That's because as incomes rise, Obamacare's subsidies will decline -- "thus making work less attractive" for people on the lower end of the wage scale. "As a result, some people will choose not to work or will work less -- thus substituting other activities for work," the report said.

But critics say Obamacare's subsidies will put a greater burden on workers whose taxes support those who choose not to work:

"Fewer people in the workforce means fewer people paying taxes," the conservative group Americans for Prosperity noted. "Combine that with Obamacare’s subsidies, and you’re looking at more federal spending paid for by less federal tax revenue."

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