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In Repeal Effort, Republicans Renew Dubious Claim That Health Care Law Kills Jobs

Dueling claims regarding the health care bill's effect on jobs come under closer scrutiny as Congress revisits the issue this week.

The GOP’s effort to outright repeal the health care law this week may be symbolic or just for show, but at least they’ve given their legislative push a catchy name: “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.”

“Job-killing,” as we’ve noted, has been a favorite adjective of the Republican leadership to describe all kinds of regulation they oppose. In regard to the Obama administration's health care law, Speaker of the House John Boehner even released a report to back up the claim that the law will cost jobs. 

Problem is, the report doesn’t quite do that. Here’s an excerpt:

Independent analyses have determined that the health care law will cause significant job losses for the U.S. economy: the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has determined that the law will reduce the “amount of labor used in the economy by ... roughly half a percent...,” an estimate that adds up to roughly 650,000 jobs lost. A study by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), the nation’s largest small business association, found that an employer mandate alone could lead to the elimination of 1.6 million jobs, with 66 percent of those coming from small businesses.

However, a closer look at those two prominently cited sources—the CBO report and the NFIB study—reveals weaknesses in the GOP’s “job-killer” claim.

The line quoted from the Congressional Budget Office was taken from an August 2010 report [PDF], and it refers to a reduction in the “supply of labor”—not in the number of jobs, noted Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein. (According to that report, health care plans offered outside of the workplace could entice some older workers to retire early.)

The other statistic the GOP report cited—1.6 million job losses—comes from a January 2009 report by the NFIB that was released before the health care law was even written, McClatchy Newspapers reported yesterday. The group that released the study told McClatchy that the study is old, and “We don’t use it anymore because it was based on a hypothetical mandate.” NFIB still believes that the law will hurt job growth, but does not cite a firm number to support that claim. 

On the other side, Democrats have made their own claims about the degree to which the health care law will create jobs.

When Nancy Pelosi said last year that health care reform would create “400,000 jobs almost immediately,” PolitiFact scrutinized the claim and rated it half true, deeming the effect of the proposed legislation “impossible to quantify with any certainty.”

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