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Before he was governor, Rick Scott spent millions attacking Obamacare. After he was elected in 2010, he continued to bash Obamacare, and in a new attack ad, his political committee portrays it as a jobs killer.
Let’s Get to Work, Scott’s political committee, unveiled the ad March 24, 2014, and it is expected to run statewide starting March 27. The ad repeats snippets of Crist’s March 9 interview on CNN when he called Obamacare "great." Here’s part of the ad script:
"Great?" the narrator says. "News reports say 300,000 health plans cancelled. Obama says patients may lose their doctors. The federal government says less work hours for American jobs," the narrator says, as an apparent quote from a February Congressional Budget Office report appears on the screen: "Obamacare will drive 2.5 million Americans out of the workforce."
Are 2.5 million Americans being driven out of the workforce due to Obamacare?
The CBO report
The Republican Party of Florida pointed to the February report by the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan fiscal scorekeeper. The report has prompted numerous attacks about the impact of Obamacare and jobs -- the inaccuracies have varied depending upon the wording.
This ad states that Obamacare will "drive" 2.5 million Americans out of the workforce, which could leave listeners with the impression that those folks will lose their jobs against their will. But that’s not what the CBO report says.
The Florida Republicans quoted this line from the CBO report:
"CBO’s updated estimate of the decrease in hours worked translates to a reduction in full-time-equivalent employment of 2.0 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024, compared with what would have occurred in the absence of the ACA."
Greg Blair, a spokesman for Scott’s re-election campaign, told PolitiFact Florida:
"The ad states what the report states – Obamacare will result in fewer work hours for American jobs."
The CBO report says that with Obamacare providing greater access to insurance on the individual market and subsidies to help pay for it, some Americans will decide on their own to work less. That’s different from being "driven" out of work, for example due to layoffs or being fired.
The CBO estimated that Obamacare would "reduce the total number of hours worked, on net, by about 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent during the period from 2017 to 2024, almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor — given the new taxes and other incentives they will face and the financial benefits some will receive." This would equal a "decline in the number of full-time-equivalent workers of about 2.0 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024," the report continued.
"By providing subsidies that decline with rising income and by making some people financially better off, the ACA will create an incentive for some people to work less," the report said.
An important distinction in the report is that labor force will reduce by the equivalent of 2.5 million full-time workers over the next decade. That doesn’t mean 2.5 million people will leave their jobs or become unemployed. Some people will only cut back a few hours or leave a second part-time job, while others may stop working entirely.
Some commentators have expressed concern about having people work less because taxpayer-subsidized insurance is available. Ultimately, it boils down to a tradeoff, Tara Sinclair, a George Washington University economist, previously told PolitiFact.
"Admittedly there are some touchy issues with the government potentially paying or subsidizing the health care costs for people who could work but choose not to," Sinclair said. "But overall I think separating health care from employment, at least making it like any other service where employment may provide the money to pay for it but where we work doesn't determine our choices, is a good thing."
Scott's TV ad says, "Obamacare will drive 2.5 million Americans out of the workforce." The ad suggests it is an actual quote in a February Congressional Budget Office report, but we didn’t find that quote in the report.
The statement relates to a CBO report that says workers who can now receive subsidized insurance will cut back on hours equivalent to about 2.5 million full-time workers by 2024. The ad is misleading because the equivalent of those hours does not translate to 2.5 million actual workers, and by stating they will be driven out of the workforce suggests it’s against their will.
We rate this claim Mostly False.
Let’s Get to Work, "Charlie Crist on Obamacare: great" TV ad, March 24, 2014
Congressional Budget Office, "The budget and economic outlook 2014-2024," February 2014
Tampa Bay Times The Buzz, "New Rick Scott TV slams Crist for calling Obamacare ‘great,’" , March 24, 2014
PolitiFact, "John Boehner says Obamacare is ‘expected to destroy 2.3 million jobs,’" Feb. 5, 2014
PunditFact, "Carlson: CBO says Obamacare will cut full-time jobs by 2.3 million," Feb. 5, 2014
PolitiFact, "Cantor says CBO predicts Obamacare will cause ‘millions’ to lose jobs," Feb. 7, 2014
PolitiFact, "NRCC says Congressional Budget Office predicts Obamacare will cost economy 2.5 million jobs," Feb. 14, 2014
PolitiFact, "Details reveal distinction in Obamacare jobs claim," Feb. 24, 2014
Washington Post The Fact Checker, "No, CBO report did not say Obamacare will kill 2 million jobs," Feb. 4, 2014
Interview, Kevin Cate, spokesman Charlie Crist campaign, March 24, 2014
Interview, former state Sen. Steve Geller, informal adviser to Charlie Crist campaign, March 24, 2014
Interview, Greg Blair, Gov. Rick Scott campaign spokesman, March 24, 2014
Interview, Susan Hepworth, Republican Party of Florida spokeswoman, March 24, 2014
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