The CBO Report: New York Times: “A new analysis from the Congressional Budget Office says that the Affordable Care Act will result in more than 2 million fewer full-time workers in the next several years, providing Republican opponents of the law a powerful political weapon leading up to this year’s midterm elections. The law is also expected to have a significant effect on hours worked, the nonpartisan budget office said in a regular update to its budget projections released Tuesday. With the expansion of insurance coverage, more workers will choose not to work and others will choose to work fewer hours than they might have otherwise, it said. The decline in hours worked will translate into a loss of the equivalent of 2.5 million full-time positions by 2024, the budget office said. The budget office analysis found that much of the law’s effect comes from reducing the need for people to take a full-time job just to get insurance coverage, and from the premium subsidies effectively bolstering household income.”
The Talking Points: Washington Post: “Republicans quickly pointed to the report’s findings as more evidence of the health-care law’s flaws, one of their major themes ahead of this year’s midterm elections. Republicans see the Affordable Care Act as a political boon this year, after the disastrous launch of the law’s Web site last fall. … The White House rushed to respond, insisting that the law will be positive for the economy and that any reduction in total workers will be far offset by the law’s benefits. It also stressed, as the CBO did, that the 2 million fewer workers reflect the equivalent of people dropping out of the labor force and cutting back on hours.”
The Context: Moneybox’s Matt Yglesias: “All things considered, I still think this is a happy story. Obamacare will kill jobs in the same way that Social Security kills jobs. By making it easier for people in certain circumstances to get by without a job. But your mileage may vary on this. The point, however, is that we’re talking about people quitting not about people getting fired.” Read more.
DC Moves to Decriminalize Pot: Reuters: “The District of Columbia’s city council voted on Tuesday to decriminalize marijuana in a move that would make smoking a joint in the U.S. capital a violation comparable to a parking ticket. The bill passed 11-1 in the first of two council votes. The second vote will take place at the council’s next legislative meeting, due on February 18. To become law, it must also be approved by Democratic Mayor Vincent Gray, who has voiced support for the measure. If the measure gets final approval, Washington would join 15 U.S. states and a handful of cities that have removed the threat of arrest for possession of small amounts of marijuana.”
Farm Bill Passes at Long Last: USA Today: “After years of delays and contentious negotiations that threatened to derail the farm bill, Congress completed its work on a new five-year package Tuesday that now heads to the White House, where President Obama is expected to sign it into law. The Senate voted 68-32 on a $500 billion farm bill that will end direct payments to farmers, expand the popular crop insurance program and cut spending on food stamps for some poor Americans by 1%. The bill, which had been mired in Congress for nearly three years, was passed in a dizzying blur of action. It took just over a week for the legislation to be introduced by House and Senate negotiators and approved by lawmakers in both chambers. The House passed the bill by a 251-166 vote last week.”
Moneybox: Uh-Oh. The Debt Ceiling’s Back.
New Jersey Subpoenas: NBC News: “Only four Port Authority officials met this week’s deadline to turn over all documents subpoenaed in the New Jersey Legislature’s investigation into the George Washington Bridge lane closures, according to a list provided to NBC News. Fourteen others who were subpoenaed—including officials in Gov. Chris Christie’s office, members of his campaign committee, his press secretary and other top aides—have either been granted extensions or have begun turning over material ‘on a rolling basis,’ according to a source close to the investigation. Two of those subpoenaed—former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly and former campaign manager Bill Stepien—have invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination and declined to turn over any material.”
Super Bowl Sting: CBS News: “Sixteen juveniles were recovered and more than 45 pimps and their associates were arrested in a joint Super Bowl operation targeting child sex trafficking, the FBI announced in a press release Tuesday. The minors recovered range in age from 13 to 17-years-old and include high school students and children who had been reported missing by their families as well as international human trafficking victims, according to the release. The FBI said that some of those arrested in the operation claimed to have traveled to New Jersey from other states specifically for the purpose of prostituting women and children at the Super Bowl. … The operation, which spanned more than six months, was led by the FBI in conjunction with over 50 law enforcement agencies.”
That’s all for today. See you back here tomorrow. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.