Will Obamacare Really Kill 2.5 Million Jobs?

According to Democrats and Republicans, it's all about interpretation.

Posted: 02/05/2014 11:57 AM EST

When the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report Tuesday predicting that the Affordable Care Act would shrink the national workforce by 2.5 million full-time jobs by 2024, Republican lawmakers felt like Valentine's Day had come early.

"The middle class is getting squeezed in this economy, and this CBO report confirms that Obamacare is making it worse," House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement.

Did he and several other GOP lawmakers who targeted the report speak too soon?

According to the White House, they are misinterpreting the report. While it did say that the law would reduce the number of hours people work, to the equivalent of 2.5 million jobs, it would not be due to employers slashing jobs or cutting back on hiring. Indeed, said spokesman Jay Carney, the reduction will be the result of employees having more of a choice about where they work and for how long because they can access affordable health care outside of the workplace.

"Over the longer run, CBO finds that because of this law, individuals will be empowered to make choices about their own lives and livelihoods, like retiring on time rather than working into their elderly years or choosing to spend more time with their families," Carney said in a statement.

Moreover, he said, Americans will no longer be "trapped" in jobs they want to move on from just so they can keep their health care coverage and also will have the "opportunity to pursue their dreams."

Accurate or not, the Republican argument will be a lot easier to make on the campaign trail in what will likely be a tough election year. It also fits more neatly in a 30-second ad.

The CBO also lowered enrollment number expectations and estimates that just six million people will sign up for coverage this year, down from seven million, and that there will be a million fewer on Medicaid.

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Follow Joyce Jones on Twitter: @BETpolitichick.

(Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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