Friday, October 24th, 2014

Sorting out the numbers on jobs, workers and the federal health care law

Fox News host Gretchen Carlson reports on a new report about the Affordable Care Act and employment.
Fox News host Gretchen Carlson reports on a new report about the Affordable Care Act and employment.

Ever since President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, critics have called it a job killer. Now, they’re saying a new report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office proves their point.

Shortly after the report was released on Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, tweeted, "Pres. Obama’s #hcr law expected to destroy 2.3 million jobs." (Wonk alert: #hcr is shorthand for "health care reform.")

Early headlines and media reports also had a negative take. On Fox News, Gretchen Carlson said, "The CBO now says the president's health care law will cut the number of full-time jobs in the United States by 2.3 million by 2021."

Democrats and liberal commentators said the law’s critics were misreading the report, and a full-fledged war of facts and spin ensued.

The issue that the law’s critics overlooked is the difference between workers and jobs.

They made it sound as if jobs are going away because businesses don’t create them or because they eliminated existing jobs. The CBO report, though, was referring to workers who decide on their own to leave the workforce, because they don’t have to keep working a job just to keep their health benefits.

We rated Boehner’s tweet Mostly False, and our friends at PunditFact rated Carlson’s claim Mostly False.

We’ve also added our own annotations to the Congressional Budget Office’s report, so you can read the key sections for yourself.