White House in damage control after release of health care jobs report
By Stephen Collinson, AFP
February 6, 2014, 12:04 am TWN
WASHINGTON--The White House jumped to parry new attacks Tuesday against U.S. President Barack Obama's healthcare law, after a congressional watchdog warned it takes the equivalent of two million workers out of the economy.
The report, by the Congressional Budget Office, offered fresh ammunition to gleeful Republicans who said it proved their long-held argument that Obamacare, which they have repeatedly tried to repeal, would "kill" jobs.
But the White House pointed out that the data did not prove employers were cutting jobs or hours because of Obamacare.
It said that the CBO summary instead showed that some who stay in low paid jobs or put off retirement to keep health insurance plans linked to employers would no longer have to under Obamacare and could chose to leave the work force or toil for fewer hours.
"Claims that the Affordable Care Act hurts jobs are simply belied by the facts in the CBO report," White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement, which appeared just before the White House conducted a hurriedly organized call for reporters.
"Since the Affordable Care Act passed into law in March 2010 the private sector has added 8.1 million jobs," Carney said.
"That is the strongest 45 month job growth since the late 1990s and contrasts with the 3.8 million private sector jobs lost in the decade before the Affordable Care Act passed."
Other officials said a healthier work force would lead to fewer sick days and higher productivity and that the law as a whole would have a stimulatory effect on the economy.
The non-partisan CBO report estimated that the ACA will reduce the total number of hours worked by between 1 and 2 percent during the period from 2017 to 2024.
It said the reduction will be driven mainly by low wage workers who chose to work less because of new taxes applying under the ACA and for other reasons.
The changes will amount to a roughly one percent reduction of aggregate labor compensation between 2017-2024.
That equates to around two million fewer full time workers in 2017 rising to about 2.5 million in 2024, the report said.
The CBO still projects total employment will rise over the coming decade, but believes it will do so less than it would have if Obamacare had not been passed.