When the Congressional Budget Office released a report indicating that the Affordable Care Act will supposedly cut 2.5 million jobs over the next decade, Republicans had a field day. But in their excitement, they failed to read closely the CBO report and the Right greatly misinterpreted the wording of the report.
The conservatives thought they had some substantial political firepower against President Obama and the ACA. But their celebration was short-lived as many outlets pointed out the mistake and said that the number of labor hours cut under the ACA is the equivalent of 2.5 million jobs. It’s an accumulation of hours, not 2.5 million people losing their jobs.
The New York Times reported that Republicans wasted no time in using the report to fuel their anti-ACA rhetoric. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and House Speaker John Boehner were among the first to chime in with knee-jerk reactions.
“Obamacare is only making things worse,” said Ryan. “This costly law is not only pushing government spending to new heights, it is disrupting coverage and leaving million of Americans worse off.” The ACA has only been implemented since Jan. 1, and those sort of perceived effects are still only GOP speculation.
Boehner said “The middle class is getting squeezed in this economy, and this CBO report confirms that Obamacare is making it worse.”
The CBO actually reported that by 2024, labor hours for American workers could slightly lower by about 1.5 percent to 2 percent, the equivalent 2.5 million jobs. No one is getting fired, and 2.5 million families won’t lose a source of income. People may just be working a smidgen less, but then again, there is another 10 years to find out if that estimate is correct.
“The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose [emphasis added] to supply,” the CBO report explicitly noted. “So it will appear almost entirely as a reduction in labor force participation and in hours worked relative to what would have occurred otherwise rather than as an increase in employment.”
The ACA creates a correlation between hours worked and benefits received. The less hours worked means the more benefits one will enjoy. This correlative created the report’s estimation that some will tend to work less because they will no longer need to pull longer shifts at work in order to afford overpriced health care benefits.
The GOP jumped, in desperation, at another weak opportunity to dismantle and discredit the ACA. Every attempt at the ACA, and against the president in general, has produced the same result: legislative obstruction and further discrediting of the party.