Obamacare will actually spur employment and reduce the unemployment rate over the next few years, the head of the Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf, said today before the House Budget Committee.
Elmendorf testified to Congress in an effort to debunk a spate of stories in conservative media outlets like Fox News that have misinterpreted a Congressional Budget Office report to mean that Obamacare would kill 2.5 million jobs over the next decade.
The CBO report released earlier this week found that as many as 2.5 million workers could opt out of full-time employment over the next decade because Obamacare would free them up to start their own businesses and pursue other interests. As a result of many people opting out, those who are looking for work will have an easier time finding it.
“When you boost demand for labor in this kind of economy, you actually reduce the unemployment rate, because those people who are looking for work can find more work?” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) asked Elmendorf.
“Yes, that’s right,” Elmendorf responded.
Van Hollen blasted the media for misreading the report.
“As the media has themselves confessed, they bought — hook, line and sinker — some of the talking points from our Republicans, and unfortunately misrepresentations go around the world three times before the truth begins to catch up,” Van Hollen said.
Though the headline on the Fox News website cried out “ObamaCare could lead to loss of nearly 2.3 million US jobs, report says” and another headline in the site said “Does new CBO report mark ObamaCare’s collapse?”, the lead paragraph of the actual story was closer to the truth.
“The long-term effect of ObamaCare on the U.S. economy was rewritten Tuesday with the Congressional Budget Office issuing a revised projection that nearly 2.5 million workers could opt out of full-time jobs over the next 10 years — allowing employers to wipe 2.3 million full-time jobs off the books,” the story said. “Budget experts say that because ObamaCare offers an insurance alternative to employer-provided coverage, many Americans who hold full-time jobs may decide to work part-time — or not at all — and get their coverage from the exchanges.”
But even with a lead that got it right, the story proceeded to quote Republicans using the report to claim that Obamacare would do widespread damage.
“ObamaCare is only making things worse,” Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said in a written statement. “This costly law is not only pushing government spending to new heights, it is disrupting coverage and leaving millions of Americans worse off.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch, a ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, called the report “devastating” to the millions of Americans seeking employment.
“A direct threat to the long-term health and prosperity of our nation, this law must be repealed,” Hatch, R-Utah, said in a statement. “Its impact and consequences are too great.”
Jay Carney, White House spokesman, explained that the loss of jobs will not be due to employers cutting back, but to Americans choosing to voluntarily leave the workforce.
He said the report proves Obamacare is allowing Americans to be “empowered” to make such a choice.
“At the beginning of this year, we noted that as part of this new day in health care, Americans would no longer be trapped in a job just to provide coverage for their families, and would have the opportunity to pursue their dreams,” he said. “This CBO report bears that out, and the Republican plan to repeal the ACA would strip those hard-working Americans of that opportunity.”
Carney also says the report does not take into account the estimate by experts that lower health care costs due to Obamacare will lead to thousands of jobs being added to the economy annually.
In addition, the report predicted the U.S. budget deficit would fall to $514 billion this year, down substantially from last year and the lowest level by far since President Obama took office five years ago. Though the Republican Party at one point in the recent past claimed that deficit reduction was their top priority, none of them mentioned deficit reduction in their claims of Obamacare calamity.