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Democrats defensive as CBO projects job loss from ObamaCare, minimum-wage hike

Recent reports from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office project that two pillars of the Democratic Party agenda -- ObamaCare and a hike in the minimum wage -- will result in a combined loss of 3 million jobs over the next decade.

That forecast has forced Democrats into unfamiliar arguments to defend their own public policies, as they point to potential benefits of lost jobs and reduced hours.

"I don’t care what the CBO says about the job impact of ObamaCare," said Michael Mandel of the Progressive Policy Institute. "ObamaCare has a far-reaching impact and part of that is going to be to encourage entrepreneurship."

On NBC's Meet the Press, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., described how statistical job loss translates into advantages for individual families.

"The single mom who is raising three kids [who] has to keep a job because of health care can now spend some time raising those kids. That's a family value," he said.  

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., offered a similar defense on ABC's “This Week.”

"We're going to have parents being able to come home, working reasonable hours. People are going to be able to retire," he said. 

ObamaCare in particular presents a unique quandary for the most productive workforce the world has ever known. Critics say that by lowering subsidies as a worker's pay increases, ObamaCare creates a disincentive to make more money -- and an incentive to rely on government aid.

"The idea of the rugged individual who is a self-reliant person and who makes his own way in the world is something that's deeply embedded in the American character and hard work is deeply embedded in the American character," the American Enterprise Institute's Michael Strain told Fox News." He added, "Public policy should be trying to encourage work, trying to support work."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., routinely has said ObamaCare would create greater job flexibility. She took that argument to a new level last week in light of the CBO findings.

"We want people to have the freedom to be a writer, to be a photographer, to make music, to paint, to start a business, to unleash the entrepreneurship of America," she told reporters.

While Republicans pointed to recent CBO findings as proof that ObamaCare and a minimum-wage hike are bad for the economy, supporters of those policies found plenty of other upsides in the studies. The report on the minimum wage said that while raising the rate would cost jobs, it would also raise wages for roughly 16.5 million people.

Doug McKelway joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in November 2010 and serves as a Washington-based correspondent. Click here for more information on Doug McKelway