Mitt Romney's presidential campaign has recently been misrepresenting Noam Scheiber's book, The Escape Artists, to claim that President Obama knowingly hamstrung the economic recovery by pushing for health care reform. Yesterday, The Washington Examiner's Byron York amplified the Romney campaign's false allegation.
Further discrediting the attack, Scheiber told Talking Points Memo today that Romney's comments are "false" and "not something I argue in the book." From Talking Points Memo:
The author of a book documenting the White House's policy making strategy, cited multiple times by GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, says the former Massachusetts governor is using the book to dishonestly accuse President Obama of intentionally harming the economy.
"That is false, in a variety of ways. I don't believe that it's substantively true," Noam Scheiber, author of The Escape Artists, told TPM by phone Thursday morning.
On Wednesday Romney said President Obama and his aides believed the health care reform law would harm the recovery but pushed for it anyway, and sourced the argument to Scheiber's book. But the claim is not true.
"There are a couple of claims wound up together there in Romney's remarks," Scheiber said. "One claim is that [Obama's team] knew that the Affordable Care Act itself -- something about the Act -- would derail the recovery.... They do not believe that it's substantively true. So it's not something that they felt, and it's not something I argue in the book."
Jonathan Chait, writing for New York's Daily Intel blog, explains further just how untrue this line of attack is:
First, and most importantly, at no point did anybody in the Obama administration ever believe that passing the Affordable Care Act would "slow down the recovery." Nothing close to that is ever described. Romney presents the book as revealing that Obama believed health-care reform, through its "big gummint" regulations, would harm the recovery, but cackling that he wanted to pass it out of some belief that Americans wouldn't notice mass economic suffering. This bears no relationship to anything the book says.
In the book, Noam Scheiber asked Larry Summers if he believed that the decision to pass health-care reform cost Obama the chance to pass a second stimulus, and thus came at the cost of a faster recovery. Summers answered that he did not think the health-care law prevented a second stimulus, but that even if that were the case, he would have supported it anyway.
Media outlets reporting Romney's latest attack on Obama have a responsibility to make clear that it's utterly false.