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What The Washington Post’s Factchecker Gets Wrong About Obamacare

If you set yourself up as the arbiter of all that is factual in the nation, you’d better keep your own facts straight.


If you set yourself up as the arbiter of all that is factual in the nation, you’d better keep your own facts straight.

The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler is just such an arbiter, tossing out “Pinocchios” like Mardi Gras beads to all who offend his sense of rectitude. But from time to time, his rush to play “Gotcha” gets ahead of reason.

The most recent example was his pronouncement that Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) earned “Four Pinocchios” (the worst possible rating) for stating on Meet The Press, “Many employers are not hiring people because of Obamacare, 70 percent in some of the surveys of small businesses are saying that Obamacare is already harming their ability to hire people.”

Kessler objects to this statement because he doesn’t think the survey Portman referred to — a survey conducted by the Chamber of Commerce — is a very good one. That may very well be true, but it is still a survey, so Mr. Portman’s statement is factual as far as that goes.

More importantly, Kessler writes:

The Chamber failed to disclose that 83 percent of small businesses surveyed said they would not be affected by the employer mandate, meaning any results that were reported were based on a subsample of just 17 percent.

Once the possibility of multiple answers are accounted for, it turned out just 4.5 to 8.5 percent of small business executives surveyed said they will reduce hours or full-time staff in response to the employer mandate.

In other words, the 74-percent claim was at least an eight-fold exaggeration.

Notice that Kessler is now focused exclusively on the employer mandate, but Portman didn’t say anything about the employer mandate. Portman was talking about the overall effect of Obamacare on small business hiring. Small businesses (those under 50 employees) are not affected by the mandate, but they sure are affected by all the other provisions of the law. Because of the new benefits that are required in every insurance policy (things like coverage of pediatric dental services, 100 percent coverage of preventive care, allowing adult “children’ to stay on their parents’ policies, and so on), premiums have skyrocketed. For a moving example of this, see this video of the employees of a Pennsylvania company finding out what their new costs will be.

These new costs definitely “harm (small employers’) ability to hire people.” They also harm small employers ability to retain workers already hired. Portman is right and Kessler is wrong.