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Truth Squad: Is health care reform the top reason employers aren't hiring?

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 3:08 AM EDT, Wed October 12, 2011

(CNN) -- For the second straight Republican presidential debate, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann on Tuesday said that the health care reform act championed by President Barack Obama is the No. 1 reason that employers aren't hiring.

At Tuesday night's debate at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, Bachmann made the assertion after fellow GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney asked her what she would do, beyond tax reform, to "get people back to work." She said that, among other things, she would repeal 2010's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. When she made the same job-hindrance assertion September 22 at the GOP presidential debate in Orlando, Florida, she said her source was a study released that week by Swiss banking giant UBS.

The statement: "But the No. 1 reason that employers say that they aren't hiring today is Obamacare." -- U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota

The facts: UBS on September 19 released an investors' research report on what it calls the "Great Suppression," which UBS says is a phenomenon in which "tax hikes and regulations emanating from Washington are ... discouraging hiring." The report said that the 2010 health care bill was one of 11 regulations that it believes are having a "negative impact on U.S. employment."

The report said that health care reform was "arguably the biggest impediment to hiring (particularly hiring of less skilled workers)."

"It subjects businesses to highly complex rules that increase the cost, risk, and 'hassle factor' of adding to payrolls," the report states. "... All firms with more than 50 workers must provide benefits, which creates an incentive for smaller firms to stay 'under the limit' by expanding overseas, outsourcing, or dividing into two companies."

Still, "arguably" is as far as the report went regarding whether health care reform was the biggest impediment to hiring. The 10 other items that the paper cited included the U.S. corporate tax rate, ozone regulations, financial reform, tougher regulation of fossil fuels, and government litigation against banks.

The report included quotes from six CEOs. Generally, these CEOs said that regulations were making it difficult to do business, and one mentioned the escalation of health care costs. But none said that the health care reform act was the No. 1 factor impeding hiring.

The paper's lead author, Tom Doerflinger, told CNN in an e-mail that the report is meant to highlight these 11 regulations as just one category of factors -- including high debt loads, weak housing prices and the European debt crisis -- that are hurting employment growth.

The verdict: Misleading.

CNN's Jason Hanna and Katie Glaeser contributed to this report.

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