02/10/2014 04:33 pm ET | Updated Feb 10, 2014

The CBO Basically Now Has To Explain Its Report In A Way A 6 Year Old Can Understand

With extraordinary patience, the Congressional Budget Office has responded to the confusion over its recent report on the Affordable Care Act, providing answers to frequently asked questions about the document. Such as: QUESTION: "Will 2.5 Million People Lose Their Jobs in 2024 Because of the ACA?" ANSWER: "No, we would not describe our estimates in that way." That sort of thing.

The CBO goes to extraordinary lengths to re-present its material, this time for an audience of the intellectually shortchanged. For example, here the CBO, an organization dedicated to making projections, attempts to explain what a "projection" is:

Q: Are You Sure That CBO’s Current Estimates of the Labor Market Effects of the ACA Are Accurate?

A: No, we are not sure that our current estimates are accurate, because our estimates are always uncertain. As we emphasized in the report: “CBO’s estimate of the ACA’s impact on labor markets is subject to substantial uncertainty, which arises in part because many of the ACA’s provisions have never been implemented on such a broad scale and in part because available estimates of many key responses vary considerably. CBO seeks to provide estimates that lie in the middle of the distribution of possible outcomes, but the actual effects could differ notably from those estimates.”

So, as it turns out, the CBO is not making prophetic declarations, like the Oracle at Delphi.

Here is my favorite paragraph:

Here’s a useful way to think about the choice of wording: When firms do not have enough business and decide to lay people off, the people who are laid off are generally worse off and are therefore unhappy about what is happening. As a result, other people express their sympathy to those people for having “lost their jobs” due to forces beyond their control. In contrast, when the labor market is strong and people decide on their own to retire, to leave work to take care of their families, or to cut back on their hours to pursue other interests, those people presumably think they are better off (or they would not be making the voluntary choices they are making). As a result, other people are generally happy for them and do not describe them as having “lost their jobs.”

Next up: Pictures and rebuses! Maybe a pop-up book.

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