The CBO Didn’t Say Obamacare Would Kill 2.3 Million Jobs, Despite What Republicans Are Saying

Ted Cruz must have spit his cereal all over the computer screen when he read Tuesday’s big Obamacare news: According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Affordable Care Act will result in 2.3 million fewer full-time jobs in the U.S. by 2021 than if the law had never been enacted — almost three times more than had previously been estimated. Republicans, having just been handed the best election-year attack line on Democrats they could have possibly hoped for, pretended to be outraged at the news. Congressional Republicans gleefully tweeted out links to the report, while conservative blogs blaring out headlines like “Cost of ObamaCare: 2.3 million jobs.”

Not so fast. This will sound completely backwards, but the CBO report is actually good news, not bad. Here’s what the report actually says:

CBO’s current estimate for 2021 is a reduction in full-time-equivalent employment of about 2.3 million.

The key words here are “full-time-equivalent.” Basically, the CBO is predicting that some Americans will derive so much financial benefit from Obamacare’s subsidies that they won’t have to work as much, so they’ll voluntarily decide cut back their hours. That’s it. It’s not a matter of people getting fired, or businesses hiring fewer people. It’s a matter of Americans — 2.3 million of them — having the option of working less and still being able to support themselves. Only in the mind of Ayn Rand is this a bad thing.

Oh, and there’s another thing about the CBO report that Republicans are ignoring. If fewer people have the need to work full time, but there’s no corresponding drop in businesses’ desire to hire workers, that’ll result in, yup, higher wages. So, in short, fewer people will need to work full-time, and those who do will be getting paid more.

This won’t stop the GOP from trumpeting the news loudly and frequently from now until the midterm elections, but supporters of the ACA —especially vulnerable red state Democrats up for reelection — should know that claims of Obamacare “costing” or “killing” jobs are bogus.