A couple weeks ago, Mitt Romney quoted Noam Scheiber’s book about the Obama administration’s economic rescue, The Escape Artists, in a highly misleading way. Yesterday he did it again, only this time Romney altered his description so that whatever shred of truth that once existed in his telling is gone, and nothing remains but a pack of lies. Here’s Romney’s incredibly false account:
A book that was written in a way that’s apparently pro-President Obama, was written by a guy named Noam Scheiber and in this book he says that there was a discussion about the fact that Obamacare would slow down the economic recovery in this country and they knew that before they passed it. But they concluded that we would all forget how long the recovery took once it had happened, so they decided to go ahead. The idea that they knowingly slowed down our recovery in order to put in place Obamacare, which they wanted and they considered historic but the American people did not want or consider historic, is something which I think deserves a lot of explaining …
The lies. Let us tote them up.
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.
Not only is it false for Romney to say Obama “knowingly slowed down our recovery,” it’s not even true that Obama knowingly passed up a chance to accelerate the recovery. The notion that anybody in the administration believed that the health-care law would actually slow down the recovery is complete fiction. It does not appear in the book anywhere and it’s pretty obviously untrue.