This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," February 4, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: The CBO report is certainly not pretty if you're interested in creating jobs in America. As we all know they estimate up to 2 million fewer jobs will be created as a result of ObamaCare. Honestly, it's not a surprising report. All the anecdotes you hear all across the country are that premiums are going up and jobs are being lost.
JASON FURMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS CHAIRMAN: This number itself purports – I mean, not purports -- is about effectively choices of people. And third, it doesn t reflect the full set of factors that go into it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHANNON BREAM, ANCHOR: All right, that is the White House, and also the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell there first, reacting to the news from the CBO -- which is the nonpartisan office that scores these things -- about the impact of ObamaCare on the economy, on jobs, those kinds of things. You saw those sides. So let's talk about it with our panel now, Steve Hayes, senior writer for The Weekly Standard, Julie Pace, White House correspondent for the Associated Press, and Tucker Carlson, host of "Fox & Friends Weekend", among other things. I feel like you have maybe ten different jobs. So thank you for making time for us.
BREAM: Julie, I want to start with you, because you were in this briefing today. And we saw the CBO numbers earlier today. And essentially, they say 2 million plus fewer people will be working as full-time employed. Now, the White House says that is because of choices, because they have options to work fewer hours and have subsidized health care through ObamaCare. Jason Furman, somebody people don't see a lot, but an economist from the White House, he was on the front lines there. You were in the briefing. Explain.
JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: So there was an interesting hour or so at the White House today after the CBO report came out where you had a statement from the White House, a background call with senior officials, and then Jason Furman, the president's top economist, come to the briefing.
Basically, what you have are two different ways of characterizing the report. If you talk to Republicans, they say there are going to be nearly 2.5 million jobs that are going to be lost over a decade because of the Affordable Care Act. If you talk to the White House, there are going to be 2.5 million people who are going to have a choice to leave full-time employment.
BREAM: To pursue other opportunities.
PACE: They may be people who decide to stop working all together. They may be people who decide to go from full-time work to part-time work. But either way, no matter how you describe it, over the next decade because of ObamaCare, you're going to have about 2.5 million people who are not working full-time. And what we couldn't get an answer to today from the White House is what is the economic impact of having that many people go from full-time to part-time or unemployment?
BREAM: Well, because you have to think this out, that there are fewer people working, fewer people paying taxes. There's less of a base there to draw from, and more people now on subsidized health care. But Tucker, you know, Jay Carney said today that this is an opportunity for people to spend more time with their kids, to have different work opportunities. I believe it was Jason Furman who said if you go from 65 hours a week and you only are keeping the job because you want the health care benefits, now you have a chance to do something.
TUCKER CARLSON, EDITOR, THEDAILYCALLER.COM: I don't know why I'm laughing, it's so appalling. You're not going to be employed full time and you ought to be excited about that because there's a whole world of opportunity out there. Subsidized health care is one of the things people without full-time work are going to rely on, but there are a whole panoply of public assistance options that are going to balloon. Disability is the sleeper, I would say, risen dramatically. It seems like a third of America is on disability practically. Food stamps, housing vouchers, all the rest. So there is a public cost to not having people have full-time work.
This is devastating to the Democrats' prospects in 2014, devastating to the country, I would say. You heard Mitch McConnell say it was predictable. I don't know if anybody predicted the CBO would come out with such a stark report. Just to put in plain [INAUDIBLE] -- 2.3 million jobs, really? I mean that's just – it is shocking, I think.
BREAM: But Steve, we heard the news and then we heard the translation and the White House, of course, what are they going to do? This is the president's signature legislative achievement. Of course there are going to speak about it in the most positive tones possible. But there are some asking, is this continuing a pattern of denial about things that have happened that are negative on the White House's watch, whether you want to talk about Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the impact of these numbers from the CBO, but what we hear is it's either not a big deal or it's a positive deal.
STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I'm not sure it's a positive deal. I think Julie accurately described the way that the White House has been forced to spin these numbers. The problem is the spin just doesn't work. Either we're going to have 2.5, pick your number, 2.5 million fewer people or full time equivalent in 10 years, or you will people working the equivalent amount of fewer hours. That's not good for the economy. It's not good in any possible way.
And while I was watching this exchange, I kept thinking of poor Nancy Pelosi. You remember Nancy Pelosi made this prediction years ago -- months ago. Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance. She was mocked for saying that, and it's true. Now, this is now the argument that the White House is actually getting behind and embracing.
The problem with the White House's choice spin is while it's true that some people may choose to work less and be able to get health insurance anyway, so many Americans aren't choosing to subsidize people working less. And for those people, they don't have a choice.
BREAM: I mean, what is the end game here? Because the president in his interview with Bill O'Reilly said, when pushed on whether people -- this is becoming a more dependent society, he said, no, that people are pursuing things for themselves. This is a nation of people who work hard and do those kinds of things. But it seems like Furman's entire argument today was this allows people to work less if that's what they want to do. This will help them to work less.
PACE: If you're a red state Democrat, if you're Mary Landrieu, if you are Mark Begich, Mark Pryor, this is the argument you don't want the White House to be making because you can already see the ads being made by their Republican challengers. The president is actually going to be meeting with Senate Democrats tomorrow at their retreat, and I think that this is going to be a big focus because this argument did not help those red state -- red state Democrats politically.
CARLSON: It's the ultimate elitist argument. It really is. It's the kind of argument that resonates in Marin County. Now that I sold my company, the IPO has been successful, I'm going to take some more me time. That's just not an argument that people who work for a living can relate to.
And by the way, the backdrop of all of this is immigration. So we're looking at 2.3 million fewer full-time jobs just because of ObamaCare, not because of the other factors in the economy, and the White House wants to double the number of legal low-skilled immigrants to the country. What is that going to do to wages for people who live here already? It's really an unsustainable -- you can't put the two together. They don't make sense together.
HAYES: The other backdrop here is unemployment insurance. Think about the argument that the White House is making right now. Basically, more benefits can discourage work. That's precisely the argument that Republicans have been making on unemployment insurance that the White House and its supporters have been pooh-poohing for all this time. So it's another argument that Republicans ought to turn to the White House and say you're making that here but you're not making it here. Which is it?
BREAM: Well, and we know that November is a long way off. It's forever in politics, but there continue to be negative reports regarding the health care law, its implementation, whether people are covered, how many people are covered, as Jim Angle talks about, millions more may lose and get these cancellation notices than already have. There are so many parts of the law still to kick in. Does the positive ever overcome the negative? Democrats say they're going to run on ObamaCare, and they say Republicans will be running from it by November.
PACE: I think one of the things with the Democrats who have said they are going to run on ObamaCare is they largely looked at this as I voted for this, I don't really have a choice. And if you talked to them a week ago, they said, well, the web site is getting better and the enrollment numbers do look better, so maybe this won't be so terrible for me. What this report does to that argument, I think, it may change it a little bit. You may not see people actually actively saying ObamaCare, it's a good thing. They can't run away from it completely, though.
BREAM: Quick final word to you on this, Tucker.
CARLSON: They know exactly who their base is. It's members of minority groups, it's young people, it's single women, and they're going to immediately turn to the cultural issues to win back support from those groups, period.
BREAM: That's it on this topic. But stick around. Next up, are hackers getting easy access to your personal information?
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