Let’s take a closer look at a new, ridiculous Mitt Romney talking point: that Barack Obama is out of touch because he doesn’t understand how the Affordable Care Act is (supposedly) destroying small businesses. It’s worth diving inside these things sometimes to see just how easily they can be constructed from less than nothing, and how the press can magnify that nonsense if they aren’t careful.

First, here’s what Romney said, as reported without any fact-checking at all by Michael Barbaro over at the New York Times.

“[Obama] said he didn’t understand that Obamacare was hurting small business,” Mr. Romney said. “You have to scratch your head about that.”

So what’s it all about?

Barack Obama did a series of interviews with local TV this week. One of the broadcasters, from KTIV-TV in Iowa, relayed to the president a story that a local company had closed “as a direct result” of health care reform. That’s the point that Obama looked totally puzzled, and said that it was “gonna be hard to explain” given that the Affordable Care Act hasn’t done anything to small businesses so far (although Obama neglected to mention that ACA has, in fact, given small businesses tax credits if they do offer health coverage).  

But I’m leaving something out — something also left out of not only Romney’s speech, but also the Times story about it. If you click through and read the KTIV story, you’ll see that the jobs weren’t lost at all; they were moved from Iowa to Wisconsin. The reporter told this to Obama in the interview, which is, I think, the reason that Obama’s reaction was basically: “Huh?”

Never mind that it’s highly unlikely that any factory has closed down because the company is given the option to receive tax credits if they offer health care. Never mind, even, the unlikely possibility that real-life companies are reacting to false rumors about what horrors Obamacare might unleash on them in the future by shedding jobs now. What we have here is a claim that a company relocated from Iowa to Wisconsin because of unspecified “direct” effects of the health law. Obama is puzzled because the story he’s been told can’t possibly be true.

Oh, it’s possible that the company in question claimed that Obamacare was responsible. But I’ll put heavy, heavy money on the proposition that this move was made for simple, boring business reasons that had nothing at all to do with anything coming out of Washington.

(For more debunking of the rest of Mitt Romney’s talking point, including the Luntz poll he’s trotting out and why you shouldn’t trust it, see the excellent ABC News factcheck by Shushannah Walshe and Devin Dwyer that Greg linked to earlier today).

You know that Mitt Romney isn’t going to drop the story just because it’s been reported to be phony. But maybe next time the New York Times, at least, will be a little more careful about explaining which stuff the candidates say is true and which is nonsense.