The White House on Tuesday launched a full-court press in response to a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that found ObamaCare would reduce full-time employment by more than 2 million workers in the coming years.
The report predicted more people would leave the workforce because of lower wages, and be slower to return because they would want to keep their healthcare insurance subsidies. It also found that they would do so at a significantly greater clip than had been originally estimated when the law was first scored in 2010.
But on Tuesday, the White House argued that the aspects of the law discouraging Americans from work weren't necessarily a problem.
Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors Jason Furman told reporters that the law would not reduce the hours being offered by employers. Instead, Furman said, ObamaCare allowed greater "choice" — for workers to scale back their hours to spend more time with their children, or to leave their jobs to launch a small business or startup.
"This is not businesses cutting back on jobs. This is people having new choices," Furman said.
Furman also said it was wrong to evaluate the law based solely on the finding that people are less likely to work and will work fewer hours under the healthcare law.
"I have no doubt that if we, for instance, got rid of Social Security and Medicare, there are many 95-year-olds who would choose to work," Furman said.
"We don't think that would be an effective strategy for boosting the economy or a particularly wise strategy," he added.
The White House also called the CBO analysis incomplete, noting that it did not account for factors that could boost the economy or encourage workers to stay at their jobs. The administration said the analysis fails to take into account the law's slowing of healthcare costs, which the administration argues will lead to the creation of as many as 400,000 new jobs per year by the end of the decade.
Furman also argued that allowing workers greater flexibility would create more dynamism in the marketplace as workers felt freer to change jobs or start their own businesses.
Still, the report clearly created a political headache for the White House — something White House press secretary Jay Carney tacitly admitted as he met with reporters after Furman spoke.
"We're out here with the president's chief economist trying to explain the facts of this," Carney said.
Earlier in the afternoon, Carney issued a lengthy statement looking to push back against early reports about the CBO document.
"Claims that the Affordable Care Act [ACA] hurts jobs are simply belied by the facts in the CBO report," Carney said. “CBO’s findings are not driven by an assumption that ACA will lead employers to eliminate jobs or reduce hours, in fact, the report itself says that there is 'no compelling evidence that part-time employment has increased as a result of the ACA.' "
Republicans have seized on the report, saying it validates their warnings about the economic fallout from ObamaCare.
In a statement, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) accused the president of "ignoring" the economic problems caused by the legislation.
"The middle class is getting squeezed in this economy, and this CBO report confirms that ObamaCare is making it worse," Boehner said. "The report also confirms what the American people already know: further action is necessary to address the drivers of our debt."
--This report was updated at 3:03 p.m.