Paul Ryan Fact-Checks Republicans On Obamacare Job ‘Costs’

At least one Republican is setting the record straight on what the Congressional Budget Office actually said this week about Obamacare and its effect on jobs.

House Budget Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) explained in a Wednesday hearing with CBO director Doug Elmendorf that the health care reform law wouldn’t cost the U.S. economy more than 2 million jobs, as many of his colleagues alleged, but that Americans would choose to work less.

“I want to make sure we accurately understand what it is you are saying,” Ryan said, before leading Elmendorf through a series of questions to explain the report and its findings.

Ryan and Elmendorf combined to explain that Obamacare would lead to a decrease in the number of hours worked by up to 2 percent in 2024. Most of that drop, the CBO said, would be the result of Americans choosing not to work, for various reasons, but not because employers would want to hire fewer workers on account of the law. Translate those lost hours into full-time employment and it equals up to 2.5 million jobs by 2024. But that’s not the same as jobs being cut.

“Just to understand, it is not that employers are laying people off,” Ryan said.

“That is right,” Elmendorf said.

That’s a pretty direct contradiction for the attack adopted by many GOPers following the report’s release. Senate Republicans blasted out an email, saying that Obamacare would “print more pink slips.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and others alleged that the law would “cost” the country more than 2 million jobs. A number of conservative outlets framed the report as “pushing” Americans out of the workforce, rather than it being of their own volition.

To be clear, Ryan wasn’t thrilled with the CBO’s finding. He said he was “troubled” by the report because it suggested that Obamacare was encouraging Americans “not to get on the ladder of life, to begin working, getting the dignity of work, getting more opportunities, rising the income, joining the middle class.”

“This means fewer people will do that,” he said.

But, after a day in which official Washington spent most of its energy debating what the CBO report actually said, Ryan did make a point to get the truth out in the open.

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