Fox Uses Report Debunking Network's False Attacks On Health Care Law To Attack Legislation


The Urban Institute recently published a report contradicting the claim often pushed by Fox News that the health care reform law will "kill jobs." But Fox's Bill Hemmer nevertheless used the institute's report to attack health care reform and its "effect on jobs."

Fox Spins Report To Claim "Health Care Overhaul Will Not Create Jobs"

Fox: "Urban Institute: Health Care Overhaul Will Not Create Jobs." On Fox News' America's Newsroom, co-host Bill Hemmer highlighted the Urban Institute's study, noting that the report concluded that the health care "will have no noticeable effect on jobs." He added: "Others suggest, we'll lose jobs because of it." He then hosted Republican Sen. Rob Portman who also asserted that the legislation is "hurting jobs, not helping jobs."

From America's Newsroom:

OBAMA [video clip]: Today, after almost a century of trying; today, after over a year of debate; today, after all the votes have been tallied health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America.

HEMMER: That was President Obama one year ago today, and back then, Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, were claiming the new law would create hundreds of thousands of jobs, some said millions of jobs. But now there is a report from the left-leaning group, the Urban Institute, saying the overhaul will have no noticeable effect on jobs. Others suggest, we'll lose jobs because of it.

What does the Ohio Senator Rob Portman, the Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, think about this? Senator, good morning to you, and welcome back to America's Newsroom. What do you think we've learned about this bill in 12 months?

PORTMAN: Well, Bill, unfortunately, I think that report understates the impact of this legislation, which is, it's hurting jobs, not helping jobs. And it's already happening. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 3/23/11]

Urban Institute Report Actually Debunks Conservatives' Claim That Health Care Law Will Cause Job Losses

Urban Institute: Affordable Care Act "Will Not Have [A] Noticeable Effect On Net Levels Of Employment." In a report released on March 21 examining how the Affordable Care Act "will impact labor costs and the demand for labor," the Urban Institute concluded:

[T]he ACA will not have [a] noticeable effect on net levels of employment for three reasons -- (1) the net new expenditures are too small relative to the overall size of the economy; (2) the negative effects on jobs of Medicare premium cuts and new taxes will be offset by the expansion of coverage through Medicaid and income related subsidies that will likely increase employment; and (3) the new law will not affect the most firms either because they already provide private insurance that meets federal standards or they are exempt from the new requirements because they employ fewer than 50 workers. [Urban Institute, "How Will the Affordable Care Act Affect Jobs?" 3/21/11]

Urban Institute: "Cost-Containment Provisions In The ACA Will Boost The Economy And Employment Over Time." In addition, the report pointed out:

There are many cost-containment measures in the ACA, and other proposals could build on those measures if adopted. Cost containment would have somewhat opposite effects than the effects of coverage expansion. To the extent the cost-containment efforts are successful, they will reduce the growth in health care costs. This will reduce the demand for labor as well as incomes in the health care sector, but it will increase the discretionary income that individuals and families have to spend elsewhere. Thus, if these efforts are successful, there will be additional spending outside the health sector that will increase demand for labor in other sectors.


Curtailing the growth in health care costs will mean lower costs for businesses and individuals. The CEA [Council of Economic Advisers] has estimated that reducing the growth in health care costs by 1 percentage point per year would result in a 4.0 percent higher GDP by 2030,21 due to a higher national savings rate, more capital formation and higher output. Faster growth in GDP would mean more jobs, lower unemployment, and higher family incomes.


Cost-containment efforts, if successful, will have somewhat opposite effects, reducing the growth in spending on Medicare and Medicaid, which will reduce the taxes or borrowing the federal government has to undertake. Cost-containment that reduces the federal budget deficit would result in faster economic growth, more employment and higher family incomes. Cost-containment would also free up private dollars to be spent in non-health areas of the economy. [Urban Institute, "How Will the Affordable Care Act Affect Jobs?" 3/21/11]

Urban Institute: "The Employment Effects Of The ACA Are Mainly Due To Worker Choices, Not Jobs Being Destroyed." From the Urban Institute report:

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the ACA could reduce the amount of labor used in the economy on the order of half of a percent, "primarily by reducing the amount of labor that workers choose to supply." Some have taken this half-percent figure and multiplied it by the number of workers to estimate the number of jobs taken out of the economy by ACA, but this is an incorrect application of the CBO's findings.

The expansion of Medicaid and the provision of subsidies in the exchanges will give workers options for retaining insurance coverage even if they were to work part-time or stop working. By providing new opportunities to obtain health care outside of employment, the ACA could lead some workers to reduce their work hours or leave their job to pursue other interests. The relatively small reduction in labor supply does not represent jobs lost as a result of ACA, but decisions made by those no longer locked into employment situations as a consequence of their need for health insurance.

Plus, any reduction in labor supply the ACA causes would occur over an extended period of time as the exchanges come online and new options and incentives become clear to workers. If the ACA were to induce certain workers to leave their jobs during a period of high unemployment, such as we have today, others looking for work would quickly fill the vacancies. [Urban Institute, "How Will the Affordable Care Act Affect Jobs?" 3/21/11]

Fox Has Repeatedly Insisted Health Care Law "Will Kill" Jobs

Greta Van Susteren Provided Florida GOP Governor With Platform To Attack Health Care Law. Fox host Greta Van Susteren invited Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott to describe his "state's problems." Scott responded in part that "Obamacare is killing jobs":

VAN SUSTEREN: When you met with the governor -- or the president, actually, all the governors the past weekend, did you think that the president understood your state's problems?

SCOTT: No. I mean, I asked him, I said, look, here's our problem, we need jobs. We are competing with other countries. And so high corporate tax rates, the deficits, the increased regulations that happened the last two years -- all that's doing is impacting jobs. Obamacare is killing jobs, because it's not focused on driving down health care costs. It's raising our costs of doing business. So we need to stop and think. We're competing with all these other countries. We can't treat business people worse or their dollars will go someplace else.

VAN SUSTEREN: And he doesn't get that you don't think?

SCOTT: Based on all of his actions, he doesn't.


VAN SUSTEREN: If you had one message for the president, what is that?

SCOTT: I would stop and think about how he's impacting the job base in this country. I mean, our biggest problem in our state is jobs. We have a million people out of work. We need to treat business people differently. We need to say we've got to reduce our taxes, we've got to reduce their regulation. We can't have these deficits. We've got to say how do we compete with these other countries? That's what he needs to be focused on. [Fox News, On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, 3/1/11]

Peter Johnson Jr.: "A Lot Of People Are Saying ... 'I Believe The Jobs Are Going To Be Lost.' " On Fox & Friends, Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. claimed, "A lot of people are saying ... I believe jobs are going to be lost." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/19/11]

Megyn Kelly: Republican Senators "Say The Law Will Kill 800,000 Jobs -- Perhaps More." On Fox News' America Live, host Megyn Kelly promoted a flawed report published by "two Republican senators, who are also doctors, on the impact of the new health care law." She reported that their "dire diagnosis" predicts that " the law will kill 800,000 jobs -- perhaps more." [Fox News, America Live, 10/26/10]

Eric Bolling: "They Estimate 800,000 Jobs We Are Going To Lose." Appearing on America Live to discuss the senators' report, Fox Business host Eric Bolling said, "I agree with them and these are doctors. They are Republican senators but they are doctors." Bolling also asserted, "They estimate 800,000 jobs we are going to lose because of what they found in the 3,200 pages." [Fox News, America Live, 10/26/10]

Fox Business: "Does Obamacare Mean Millions More Jobs Destroyed?" During a discussion about the health care bill on the Fox Business Network, an on-screen graphic [MW3] asked: "Does Obamacare mean millions more jobs destroyed?" From the Fox Business Channel:


[Fox Business, America's Nightly Scoreboard, 3/16/10]

Experts: Claim That Health Care Reform Kills Jobs Is A "Myth"

AP Calls GOP Job Loss Estimate "Shaky," Claims Statistics "Used And Abused." In a January 18 article, the Associated Press wrote that "the widely cited estimate" of job losses "by House GOP leaders is shaky." The article further noted that the report "cites the 650,000 lost jobs as Exhibit A, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office as the source of the original analysis behind that estimate. But the budget office, which referees the costs and consequences of legislation, never produced the number." The article continued:

What CBO actually said is that the impact of the health care law on supply and demand for labor would be small. Most of it would come from people who no longer have to work, or can downshift to less demanding employment, because insurance will be available outside the job.

"The legislation, on net, will reduce the amount of labor used in the economy by a small amount -roughly half a percent- primarily by reducing the amount of labor that workers choose to supply," budget office number crunchers said in a report from last year.

That's not how it got translated in the new report from Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other top Republicans.


The Republican translation doesn't track, said economist Paul Fronstin of the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute.

"CBO isn't saying that there is job loss as much as they are saying that fewer people will be working," explained Fronstin. "There is a difference. People voluntarily working less isn't the same as employers cutting jobs."

For example, the budget office said some people might decide to retire earlier because it would be easier to get health care, instead of waiting until they become eligible for Medicare at age 65.

The law "reduces the amount of labor supplied, but it's not reducing the ability of people to find jobs, which is what the job-killing slogan is intended to convey," said economist Paul Van de Water of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The center advocates for low-income people, and supports the health care law. [The Associated Press, 1/18/11]

Van De Water: Claim That Reform Kills Jobs Is "Perpetuating Myths And Deliberately Confusing The Public." In a January 18 interview with Paul Van de Water, senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Van de Water called the claim that health care reform will cause the economy to lose jobs "perpetuating myths and deliberately confusing the public." From the interview:

House Republican leaders say that the Affordable Care Act will destroy jobs by making it more expensive for employers to provide insurance for their employees. Is there any truth to this?

No, it's completely wrong. CBO also looked at this issue and they found that health reform is unlikely to raise most businesses' health insurance premiums -- in fact for most firms, premiums are likely to go down.

What CBO did say is that some people who are currently working primarily because they need their health insurance might choose to retire early or work a little less.

But that has nothing to do with firms hiring fewer people. Opponents of reform who claim that will happen are not only wrong but are misleading the public.

Paul, what's the bottom line?

Two key points. First, in attacking the CBO estimate of health reform's costs and making false claims about the law's impact on jobs, opponents of reform are perpetuating myths and deliberately confusing the public. Health reform will reduce the deficit and will not kill jobs.

Second, at a time when the nation faces serious long-term fiscal challenges, it's extremely troubling to see Congressional leaders rejecting CBO analysis they find politically inconvenient and promoting their own partisan estimates. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 1/18/11]

Conservative Media Previously Distorted CBO Report To Claim Health Care Law Is "Job Killing"

Hannity: "The CBO Just Said That The Obamacare Health Care Bill Is Going To Cost Us 850,000 Jobs." On his Fox News show, Sean Hannity distorted a report by the Congressional Budget Office, saying, "The CBO just said that the Obama care health care bill is going to cost us 850,000 jobs." [Fox News, Hannity, 3/1/11, via Nexis]

Wash. Times Runs With Distortion That Health Care Law Will Kill 800,000 Jobs. In an editorial, The Washington Times misrepresented testimony from CBO director Doug Elmendorf to claim: "Obamacare's casualties: 800,000 jobs." From the editorial:

Repeal of Obamacare ought to be a priority not only on constitutional grounds, but also as a move essential to pulling our economy out of its malaise. The head of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) let slip the reason why in testimony Thursday before the House Budget Committee. Over the course of a decade, the tax hikes and increased costs of government's health care takeover would take a big toll on the job market. "If the reduction in the labor used was workers working the average number of hours in the economy and earning the average wage, there would be a reduction of 800,000 workers," CBO Director Douglas W. Elmendorf predicted. [The Washington Times, 2/14/11]

Glenn Beck: "According To The CBO," Health Care Reform "Will Create 800,000 New Positions In The Unemployment Line." On his radio show, Glenn Beck stated: "According to the CBO, the job creating health care bill will create 800,000 new positions in the unemployment line." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 2/11/10]

The Blaze: "800,000 Jobs Gone." Beck's website, The Blaze, posted video of CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf's testimony with the headline: "800,000 Jobs Gone: CBO Admits Health Care Law Will Kill Jobs." [The Blaze, 2/10/11]

National Review Online: "Job Killing." In a blog post titled, "Job Killing," National Review Online contributor Yuval Levin cited Elmendorf's testimony and wrote: "That's 800,000 fewer jobs in ten years than we would have had without the law, even if you accept all the dubious assumptions that CBO was required to accept about future spending and taxes under the law." [National Review Online, 2/10/11]

Hot Air: "ObamaCare Will Crush 800,000 Jobs Into Nonexistence." In a post on Hot Air titled, "Video: CBO admits ObamaCare will kill 800,000 jobs," blogger Ed Morrissey wrote:

Oh, sorry; that headline isn't really a New Tone entry. What shall we say, then? ObamaCare will crush 800,000 jobs into nonexistence? It will give 800,000 jobs a hug that, er, chokes the life out of them. Let's take a cue from Mom and Dad after the dog disappeared -- ObamaCare will send 800,000 to a nice farm where they can run free all day long and chase rabbits. [Hot Air, 2/10/11]

Weekly Standard: Obamacare Will "Reduce The Number Of Jobs In The Labor Market By An Estimated 800,000." In a post on The Weekly Standard's blog, Jeffrey Anderson wrote: "Testifying today before the House Budget Committee, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Doug Elmendorf confirmed that Obamacare is expected to reduce the number of jobs in the labor market by an estimated 800,000." [The Weekly Standard, 2/10/11]

Fox Nation: "CBO Director: Obama Health Law Will Cost 800,000 Jobs." Linking to The Weekly Standard, Fox Nation claimed:


[Fox Nation, 2/10/11]

Jim Hoft: Health Care Law "Will Cost 800,000 Jobs." Also linking to the faulty Weekly Standard report, Gateway Pundit's Jim Hoft wrote: "Not only will Obamacare impose $500 billion in new taxes on American taxpayers... Not only will it actually cost more than $2.3 trillion in ten years... It will cost 800,000 jobs, too." [Gateway Pundit, 2/11/11]

In Fact, CBO Found That Health Care Reform Lets People "Choose" To Work Less

CBO: Health Care Reform Reduces "The Amount Of Labor That Workers Choose To Supply." In August 2010, the Congressional Budget Office stated of the health care reform law:

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the legislation, on net, will reduce the amount of labor used in the economy by a small amount -- roughly half a percent -- primarily by reducing the amount of labor that workers choose to supply. [Congressional Budget Office, 8/10]

CBO: People Will Work Less Because Health Care Reform Provisions Increase Their "Financial Resources." CBO further stated that the "reduction in the supply of labor is largely attributable to the substantial expansion of Medicaid and the provision of subsidies that will reduce the cost of insurance obtained through the newly created exchanges." CBO explained that these measures "will effectively increase beneficiaries' financial resources. Those additional resources will encourage some people to work fewer hours or to withdraw from the labor market." [Congressional Budget Office, 8/10]

Health Expert Paul Van De Water: "If People Voluntarily Choose To Reduce Their Hours Of Work ... That's Not Killing Jobs." Paul Van de Water, health care expert at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told Media Matters via email:

The CBO report ... finds that health reform's major effect on employment will be a small reduction in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply. For example, some people with pre-existing health conditions may choose to retire earlier if they can obtain health insurance coverage through the new health insurance exchanges and no longer have to wait until age 65 for Medicare. If people voluntarily choose to reduce their hours of work, however, that's not killing jobs. [Email to Media Matters, 10/27/10]

PolitiFact: "A Person Who Voluntarily Chooses To Work Less Is Not Having Their Job 'Killed.' " Evaluating the claim that the health care reform law is a "job killer," PolitiFact found the claim to be "False," and noted that the CBO report was being distorted:

Basically, the CBO is saying that some people right now are working mostly to keep their health insurance. Once they have other options -- to enroll in Medicaid, or to qualify for tax breaks to buy insurance from a health exchange -- they might choose to work less. The CBO describes this as a "small segment" of the population. And, because the CBO is describing reduced hours rather than lost jobs, it never uses the 650,000 number that the Republican document cites. The Republican extrapolated that number from the CBO's estimate of one-half percent of the labor supply. Finally, we should point out that a person who voluntarily chooses to work less is not having their job "killed" by federal legislation. [PolitiFact, 1/20/11]

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.