Noam Scheiber: ‘No evidence’ for Romney claim that cites my book


Mitt Romney has been citing a new book he says shows that the Obama administration believed the health care reform law would slow down the economic recovery, but went ahead with it anyway. Too bad for the presidential hopeful that the author of the book says that’s not accurate.

Romney has been claiming recently that in 2009, Larry Summers, at the time Obama’s top economic adviser, told the administration “that if they put in place Obamacare, it would slow down the recovery.” Romney has sourced that claim to The Escape Artists, a recent book by Noam Scheiber about the Obama administration’s economic policy.

On Thursday, Scheiber, a writer for The New Republic magazine, told msnbc’s Rachel Maddow he found “no evidence” that the administration believed there was anything about the Affordable Care Act itself that would hamper the recovery:

The argument, if i understand it correctly, is that there was something sort of intrinsic to the Affordable Care Act—the expansion of government, or whatever it was—that would slow down the recovery, would hurt the economy. And that despite knowing that, they went ahead and did it anyway. 

I found no evidence of this. I encountered no administration official who felt that way. They all thought [the healthcare law] was a good thing to do and in the long-term interest of the economy. They had no inkling, there was never any discussion, that this would … crimp the recovery going forward.


Scheiber told Maddow he did find that some administration officials worried that by spending political capital on health care reform, they might reduce their ability to later pass more stimulus measures designed to spur the recovery. But that’s very different from Romney’s version, which suggests they thought that the content of the health care law itself would hurt the economy.

Romney has not yet responded to Scheiber’s comments.

Maddow said Romney’s misstatement—and failure to correct himself—was just the latest in a pattern.

She pointed to Romney’s first television ad that takes an Obama quote out of context. She also cited Romney’s false claim that Obama’s “friends and family” got cash from the Obama administration’s $535 million loan guarantee for Solyndra.

“Mr. Romney gets caught saying things that are factually wrong, and he does not mind,” said Maddow. She later added: “He does not appear to have any shame at all.” 

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated from an earlier version, to more accurately convey Scheiber’s comments.

Barack Obama

Noam Scheiber: 'No evidence' for Romney claim that cites my book