CNBC reported that a study published by the journal Health Affairs "found little evidence that the ACA has caused increases in part-time employment as of 2015," debunking a long time conservative media attack on President Obama's health care law.
Despite being repeatedly debunked, right-wing pundits have continued to push the false claim that the Affordable Care Act would negatively effect American employment, claiming its enactment would drive losses in full-time jobs while increasing part-time employment -- though no data has supported this assertion.
A January 5 article from CNBC reported that despite Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) assertion that the ACA has "forced millions of people into part-time work," "the analysis did not find such a shift to a reduction in work hours," and this speculative claim "isn't borne out by reality":
A new study further undercuts a major claim by critics of the Affordable Care Act, who contended that the law would encourage companies to slash full-time workers' hours and shift them into part-time work in order to avoid having to offer them health insurance.
The research "found little evidence that the ACA had caused increases in part-time employment as of 2015," according to a summary of the findings published in the journal Health Affairs on Tuesday.
"We can say with a large degree of confidence that there is nothing we can see nationwide when we look at the whole workforce" that would support a claim that the so-called employer mandate or other Obamacare features have led to increases in part-time employment at the expense of full-time jobs, said Kosali Simon, a professor at Indiana University, and a co-author of the report.
Critics of the law have said that many employers, rather than subsidize workers' insurance plans or pay the Obamacare fine, would instead cut workers' hours so that they fell below the 30-hour-per-week threshold that would trigger the penalty.
"There doesn't appear to be any substantial changes in the labor market as a result of Obamacare. The anecdotes are real, but I think it's just not happening in large numbers." -Larry Levitt, senior vice president, Kaiser Family Foundation
But the research published Tuesday in Health Affairs strongly suggests that such "speculation that employers would reduce work hours to avoid the mandate that they must offer health insurance to full-time employees" isn't borne out by reality.
"If this were true, one would expect to find increases in employment at the 'kink' just below the thirty-hour threshold," the paper noted.
From the January 4 edition of Bloomberg's With All Due Respect:
Loading the player reg...
Leading up to the 2016 elections, media should be careful not to perpetuate the same myths about Latino voters that many pushed in 2015, including portraying Latinos as a monolithic voter bloc exclusively interested in immigration or superficially attracted to Hispanic or bilingual candidates regardless of their policies, and suggesting this growing demographic will be a "non-factor" in 2016.
From the December 23 edition of CNN's CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello:
Loading the player reg...
In 2015, conservative media outlets -- led by Fox News -- set a new standard for attacking the least fortunate members of American society, targeting low-income workers, recipients of government assistance, and the homeless in a campaign of misinformation. The campaign was so pervasive that President Obama personally addressed it during a leadership summit dedicated to alleviating poverty. In recognition of their exemplary efforts to distort the public discourse on poverty, here are five of the worst trends in right-wing media poor-shaming from 2015.
The recent purchase of the Las Vegas Review-Journal (LVRJ) by an entity reportedly controlled by Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson is sparking concern among staffers at the paper. One reporter says that stories about the purchase before Adelson's involvement was public were edited by the publisher to remove references to the conservative billionaire.
Last week, LVRJ was purchased by a previously unknown company called News + Media Capital Group LLC. After days of speculation about the mysterious group behind the purchase, several outlets confirmed that Adelson and his family were the main buyers.
James DeHaven, who has reported for the paper for three years and has been covering its ownership change, told Media Matters that publisher Jason Taylor intervened last week to remove portions of two stories that hinted at Adelson's company as the buyer.
"We knew that we had been bought on Thursday, we just didn't know who bought us," DeHaven said. "We ran a story on Friday in which quotes were removed by the publisher. Portions of a Saturday story were removed, all mentions of [Adelson] were removed."
DeHaven said reporters at the paper had enough information to at least speculate about Adelson's involvement in stories that were published December 11. But he contends that Taylor intervened to remove portions of those stories.
"That's the first time it happened since I've been at the paper," DeHaven said.
Taylor did not respond to requests for comment.
Review-Journal staffers, meanwhile, are offering concern about the Adelson purchase, noting his past history of conservative activism, political influence and even his previous lawsuits against journalists -- including one who had worked for the paper.
"His litigiousness is something we're all concerned about, that is what I am worried about," said one reporter who requested anonymity. "It would be court-related in general, concerned about cases he has going through the courts." The reporter added, "We're definitely worried about it. It would be good to have a local owner, but I think everyone is definitely still a little nervous."
Another newspaper staffer highlighted that some reporters at LVRJ have previously had difficulty with Adelson: "Until our owners were willing to reveal themselves, we didn't have a lot of credibility. Some people here have had very difficult interactions with him, there's obvious concern here about it. We don't know how this current arrangement might change in the next few months. There are plenty of readers who have concerns about it."
A third newsroom staffer agreed, adding, "We don't know what's going to happen next, we're just in a holding pattern. Everyone is pretty unsure, it could go a lot of different ways, just not sure. We have to move on to the next step of figuring out what he wants from us."
DeHaven said the lack of initial information did not help the staff's trust in the new owners.
"It worries people," he said. "It's concerning because we still need to disclose those people in order to do our jobs properly. It is also concerning because of Adelson's political leanings. I know our editorial board doesn't want their endorsements meddled with any more than we want our stories meddled with.
"In terms of news coverage, Sheldon is a big political donor. If you were reporting on him or his political donations -- he makes a lot of those -- that would be one area of concern."
Jon Ralston, a former Review-Journal columnist whose website and TV show are seen as having the pulse of the state, said he is hearing worries from former colleagues as well.
"I think people are surprised and now wondering what they're going to do," Ralston said. "I think they're very unsettled at the paper, who wouldn't be? We have a major political player who has an obvious political agenda buying a newspaper. You have to wonder if he will make big changes, will it affect news coverage? People are worried for their jobs, they are worried about interference."
A House hearing called out witness Newt Gingrich for his shady financial dealings seeking to undermine the work of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Gingrich, who works as a Fox News contributor and Washington Times columnist, appeared as a witness before a December 16 House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing entitled, "Examining the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Mass Data Collection Program." During the hearing, Gingrich attacked the pro-consumer bureau for purportedly being "dictatorial" in its collection of consumer data.
Gingrich has worked as a paid adviser for the U.S. Consumer Coalition, a secretive group that is attempting to dismantle the CFPB. Gingrich is also a paid adviser to Wise Public Affairs, whose clients include the U.S. Consumer Coalition. (Gingrich acknowledged his connections to both groups during the hearing.)
While Gingrich claimed during the hearing that he wasn't trying to be secretive about his anti-CFPB financial connections, that wasn't the case this summer. Gingrich wrote a July 1 Wall Street Journal op-ed attacking the CFPB and promoting the U.S. Consumer Coalition. The op-ed did not disclose any of his financial ties, simply identifying Gingrich as a former House speaker. Following criticism by Media Matters and The Washington Post's Erik Wemple, the Journal issued an "amplification" that he is "a paid adviser to Wise Public Affairs, whose clients include the U.S. Consumer Coalition, which opposes some policies of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau."
Mother Jones had previously reported that the staffers at Wise "do double duty at the Consumer Coalition" and "Setting up groups like the Consumer Coalition seems to be a big part of what Wise Public Affairs offers its customers." However, it's difficult to decipher who is funding Gingrich and the campaign against consumer protections. Mother Jones noted that the "group's true funders may never be known. As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, the Consumer Coalition is permanently exempt from revealing its donors."
That shady funding came into focus during the hearing, when Gingrich was asked by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) about who funds the U.S. Consumer Coalition. Gingrich -- a "US Consumer Coalition Senior Advisor" -- professed to not know anything about the group's funding.
During the hearing, Rep. Al Green (D-TX) cited Media Matters' research and criticized Gingrich for initially failing to disclose during the hearing that he was "a paid adviser to the Wise Public Affairs group."
He noted that it's "very interesting that there seems to be a sort of a stealth campaign that's taking place under the radar, entities that can't be properly identified" that want "to make sure that the CFPB is emasculated and eviscerated if possible. This is unbelievable."
Rep. Green added: "The people of this country are absolutely being fed bad information. Yes, they are intelligent. Yes, they're smart. Yes, they can sift through the sand and find pearls -- pearls of information -- but they can't do it if you're getting bad information. And that's what this is all about, which is why we have put so much emphasis on what has happened with reference to this stealth organization, this mystery organization."
With global crude oil prices at their lowest point in seven years, and gasoline prices approaching their lowest point of President Obama's term of office, Media Matters remembers Fox News' hypocritical coverage of the relationship between presidential policy initiatives and fuel and energy markets.
An editorial published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail purporting to fact-check AFL-CIO radio ads targeting so-called "right-to-work" laws being pushed by West Virginia legislators identified no errors in the advertisements, but still attacked the labor union by promoting flawed and biased studies funded by anti-union donors.
The December 14 editorial was authored by the editorial board of the Charleston Daily Mail (in July the Charleston Daily Mail and Charleston Gazette merged to form the Charleston Gazette-Mail. The paper retains two independent editorial boards).*
The editorial discussed a West Virginia radio network's decision to pull three AFL-CIO ads from its airwaves, which reportedly cited them as "inflammatory." The editorial board claims the ads "mislead by quoting studies that don't necessarily address correlation and causation." The editorial continues by juxtaposing the claims in the AFL-CIO ad with "conservative" studies in an attempt to prove the AFL-CIO's claims are flawed:
The 54 percent increase in injury and death statistic comes from a 2014 AFL-CIO report "Death on the job, the toll of neglect," using Bureau of Labor statistics.
Yet a 2012 study by the conservative Meighen Institute suggests that union workplaces have more injuries than non-union workplaces. And a 2012 report from a Michigan group supporting right-to-work legislation cites a reduction in injuries and illnesses in Oklahoma over a 10-year period after right-to-work laws went into effect in 2001.
"It's true that right-to-work states have a greater incidence of fatal workplace injuries, but the very dangerous occupations are concentrated ... in occupations like farming, fishing and forestry regardless of whether the state has a right-to-work law," the CAPCON report says.
The AFL-CIO says that right-to-work states have lower average wage rates. That too is true, but as Daily Mail columnist Laurie Lin covered last week, those states also generally have much lower cost-of-living rates.
"When adjusting for cost of living, workers in right-to-work states have 4.1 percent higher per-capita personal incomes than workers in non-right-to-work states," reports the Mackinac Institute.
The editorial notes multiple times that the AFL-CIO's statements are true, even citing sources that back up the union's claims.
For example, the editorial cites "CAPCON" or Michigan Capitol Confidential -- an online outlet created by the conservative Mackinac Center for Public Policy to push the organization's studies -- agreeing with the AFL-CIO's argument that states with so-called "right-to-work" laws have higher incidences of fatal workplace injuries. CAPCON and the editorial noted that "It's true that right-to-work states have a greater incidence of fatal workplace injuries," but caveat the fact by claiming these right-to-work states engage in more dangerous occupations without providing any evidence of the fact. The studies and reports cited by the editorial fail to adequately counter the claims made by the AFL-CIO, as neither of the sources cited by the paper address workplace fatalities in their data, except to agree with the AFL-CIO's argument that right-to-work states lag behind other states in terms of workplace safety.
The editorial also claimed that the AFL-CIO's contention that "right-to-work states have lower average wage rates [...] is true," but defended the typically low wages of states with right-to-work laws by claiming that these states "generally have much lower cost-of-living rates."
The AFL-CIO's claim of higher workplace fatalities in states with anti-union laws is backed up by several studies, including one published in the American Journal of Public Health, which found similarly that, "Higher rates of fatal occupational injury were associated with a state policy climate favoring business over labor."
In addition, as a report in the Kennedy School Review notes, one study looking at unionization and coal mine safety from 1993 to 2010, found that "unionization predicted a substantial and significant decline in fatalities and traumatic injuries." The report also notes that while unionization also coincided with an increase in injury reporting, the phenomenon is most likely due "to more stringent injury reporting practices in union versus non-union mines." In essence, the Kennedy School Review found that injury reporting was held to higher standards after unionization, causing such reports to increase, while safety standards were also improved as a result of unionization, causing fatalities to decrease.
The AFL-CIO's claim that right-to-work states have lower average wages is also backed up by evidence, which contradicts the Mail's claim that incomes in states with restrictive union laws are higher after adjusting for cost-of-living. As the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) pointed out in an April 22 report, when accounting for a larger set of variables, not just cost-of-living differences, and "subject[ing] the results to a series of robustness tests," the AFL-CIO claim holds true - "wages in RTW (right-to-work) states are 3.1 percent lower than those in non-RTW states."
The Mail's failed attempt to discredit the AFL-CIO relied on a number of biased anti-union sources. The Mackinac Center, part of the conservative State Policy Network group of think tanks, has received millions of dollars from anti-union donors such as the DeVos family, the Walton family, and Donors Capital Fund -- the "dark money ATM" of the conservative movement funded in part by the anti-union Koch brothers. Lastly, as SourceWatch, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy, explains, Michigan Capitol Confidential (CAPCON) "produces articles and blog posts intended to appear like those of traditional news sources, but with a demonstrated conservative bias and pushing a right wing agenda."
*This piece has been updated throughout to clarify the relationship between the Charleston Gazette-Mail and its multiple editorial boards.
New enrollment for health insurance on the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) marketplace exchanges is ahead of schedule through the first six weeks of open enrollment this year, a strong rebuke to continued right-wing predictions that low enrollment and the closure of a few health insurance cooperatives would prove the law is a failure.
On December 9, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the latest figures on health insurance enrollments through Healthcare.gov. CMS reported over 1 million new customers have signed up for health insurance and that 1.8 million more renewed their plans through the exchange marketplace during the first half of this year's enrollment period. According to The Hill, CMS had only targeted 900,000 new insurance customers for the entire 2016 enrollment period, which ends on January 31. CMS administrator Andy Slavitt told The Hill "I'm a pretty conservative guy, and I'm encouraged by the start we've had."
According to The New York Times, interest in enrollment is high with six more weeks to go before the sign-up period ends and "call centers have been deluged with requests from others eager to enroll." While not everyone who signs up will ultimately decide to pay their premiums and receive coverage, early reports indicate that the health insurance marketplaces established by the ACA are on-target to meet their coverage expansion goals by the end of the year.
These positive early reports on enrollment numbers offer a stark contrast to right-wing media claims that enrollments this year would falter and that the law is failing to meet expectations. In November, several conservative outlets latched on to stories about the planned closure of a few health insurance cooperatives as proof that the president's signature health care reform law was in a "death spiral" and on the verge of collapse. In October, The Wall Street Journal responded to sharply revised 2016 enrollment estimates by claiming that Obamacare "won't survive." The Journal ignored that part of the government's estimate adjustment was the result of more people than expected staying on employer-sponsored health care plans as the uninsured rate fell to a record low of 11.4 percent. The Journal then used their dire predictions about Obamacare to push floundering Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush's plan to repeal the law.
This is not the first time right-wing media have made false claims about the ACA or grim predictions of the law being a failure. During the 2014 enrollment period, Media Matters chronicled so-called health care "truthers" who suggested that participation numbers were too high and may have been made up. Fox's Sean Hannity claimed that the Obama administration was "cooking the books on this thing," and that millions of applications for enrollment had "appeared out of thin air," while other Fox personalities claimed insurance signups "magically" hit their enrollment goals. Right-wing media held so deeply to this false enrollment conspiracy that they confusingly declared victory and impugned Media Matters when, in late 2014, CMS announced that a minor accounting error for exchange-approved dental plans had overstated the number of enrollees by just under 6 percent.
For two consecutive years, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has published an estimate of how many workers will choose to leave the workforce or reduce their work hours as a result of certain protections and subsidies created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As was the case last year, conservative media has incorrectly reported that the CBO was projecting potential job losses stemming from Obamacare.
Large portions of the federal government will shut down on December 11, unless the Republican-led Congress passes a long-term budget or short-term spending resolution to prevent a lapse in spending authority. In 2013, in the midst of a 16-day federal government shutdown that cost the American economy up to 120,000 jobs and $24 billion, major media outlets often neglected to report the toll Republican-led congressional gridlock took on American workers and families and misleadingly placed equal blame for the debacle at the feet of the Democratic Party and Obama administration.
A segment on Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier attacked the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by falsely claiming that a study from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that the healthcare law hurt the economy by reducing jobs. Fox correspondent Rich Edson argued that a working paper from the CBO buttressed GOP claims that the ACA would cost American jobs. The CBO study was referring to provisions of the ACA meant to end the issue of "job lock." MSNBC's Steve Benen explained that job lock "describes a dynamic in which many Americans would like to leave their current jobs - to retire, to start a new business...but can't because they and their families need the health benefits tied to their current job. " As Media Matters reported in 2014, the "projected change is in the supply of labor, not the demand for labor." Thus, the "job lock" provision actually gives Americans more choices, they can chose to work less or even retire earlier than expected and still be covered. From the December 8 edition of Special Report with Bret Baier:
Loading the player reg...
Al Jazeera America highlighted attempts by Republican members of Congress to use an omnibus spending bill meant to avert a government shutdown as a means of defunding a watchdog government agency dedicated to protecting consumers from fraudulent and predatory lending.
Host John Seigenthaler and correspondent Libby Casey discussed congressional Republican attempts to use spending legislation intended to avoid a federal government shutdown on December 11 as a means of gutting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). As Casey reported, Democrats are defending the organization's role in protecting American consumers, and support a spending resolution that does not include so-called "policy riders." From the December 7 edition of Al Jazeera America's News:
Later in the segment, Seigenthaler was joined by consumer advocate Alexis Goldstein to discuss the important role CFPB plays as "the only federal regulator that is tasked with protecting consumers from financial abuse":
Conservative politicians are not alone in their attacks on the CFPB. The editorial board of The Wall Street Journal recently attacked what it called an "outrageous regulatory campaign" by the agency which seeks to curb a widespread practice wherein some consumers are charged higher interest rates or assessed extra fees when purchasing automobiles based on their race.
Fox News host Bret Baier claimed that 94 million Americans were "not in the labor force" in an attempt to dismiss the latest unemployment rate figure from the Bureau of Labor Statistics November 2015 Jobs Report. But Baier failed to note that most of the 94 million includes retired people and students.
In the December 4 edition of his Fox News show, host Bret Baier reported that the U.S. economy gained 211 thousand jobs, but claimed that "it's important to note that the number of people without a job, not participating in the workforce is still over the 94 million mark for the fourth month in a row."
BRET BAIER (HOST): Stocks surged today, fueled by a November jobs report that showed a gain of 211,000 positions. The unemployment rate remains at 5 percent, but it beat expectations, it's important to note the number of people without a job, not participating in the workforce is still over the 94 million mark for the fourth month in a row.
Baier's segment echoes right-wing media's false assertion that over 94 million Americans are unemployed without noting that the this figure includes millions of Americans who are not looking to enter the workforce.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those considered to be "not in the labor force" are "those who have no job and are not looking for one. Many who are not in the labor force are students or retired. Family responsibilities keep others out of the labor force":
The labor force is made up of the employed and the unemployed. The remainder--those who have no job and are not looking for one--are counted as not in the labor force. Many who are not in the labor force are going to school or are retired. Family responsibilities keep others out of the labor force. Since the mid-1990s, typically fewer than 1 in 10 people not in the labor force reported that they want a job.