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White House in damage control over CBO report

By Brian Hughes; Brian Hughes, White House Correspondent
Proquest LLC

Senior administration officials, in damage control over a report showing Obamacare would eliminate 2.5 million full-time jobs over the next decade, sought to refute claims Tuesday that President Obama's signature domestic achievement would harm the economy.

A new report from the Congressional Budget Office, an independent scorekeeper, found that Obamacare would reduce the number of full- time employees by 2.5 million people by 2024.

Republicans immediately pounced on the study to argue that Obamacare was a jobs-killer -- a message Democrats are trying to shake off ahead of challenging midterm elections.

Aware of the political liability, the White House put out a statement on the report, held a background briefing on its findings and defended the health law in the daily briefing with reporters.

A senior administration official argued the study proved that Obamacare "won't cause businesses to dramatically cut back on jobs" - - but that "workers would choose to supply a different amount of labor."

According to the report, Obamacare will reduce the total number of hours worked by 1.5 to 2 percent between the years 2017 and 2024. The agency said the change is "almost entirely" because workers will choose to work less.

Still, the CBO report gives conservatives ample fodder to portray the Affordable Care Act both as damaging to the economy and unpopular with most Americans.

The report also found that six million people, not seven million individuals as projected by the White House, would enroll in Obamacare exchanges by the end of March.

And though senior administration officials said they respected the CBO's work, they cast doubt on some of the findings.

One senior administration official argued the report was "incomplete" and was "being misinterpreted."

"There's also a lot of debates around key parameters" of the report, the senior administration official added.

In essence, the White House argued that Obamacare was creating a healthier workforce that allowed employees to leave a job without fear of losing insurance coverage.

Republicans, however, mocked such arguments.

"If you believe that," one House GOP aide said, "I have a bridge to sell you."

The White House is well aware that Obamacare could become a political albatross for Democrats in November.

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Obama is meeting with House Democrats at the White House on Tuesday and Democratic senators Wednesday, and will speak at a retreat for Democrats next week.

This story was published at 1:39 p.m. and has been updated.

Copyright:(c) 2014 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.
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