Mitt Romney has debuted a new talking point on the campaign trail, arguing Obama is out of touch with the negative impact Obamacare is having on small businesses. This is designed to reinforce the larger case that Obama is detached from Americans’ economic difficulties.
Romney’s claim is based on a local interview Obama gave in Iowa, in which the president was told by a reporter that a local company had closed and was moving jobs to Wisconsin because of Obamacare. Obama reacted with incredulity, noting that the law’s provisions impacting such a company haven’t been implemented yet. That led Romney to remark that Obama “didn’t understand that Obamacare was hurting small business,” and “you have to scratch your head about that.”
ABC News did a good fact check of this claim, noting that Romney had distorted what Obama said. But it gets better still.
It turns out that the company didn’t close because of Obamacare at all, according to a company spokesperson. What’s more, the company sees lack of demand as the key problem — a lack of demand that is partly due to the drive to repeal or modify Obamacare, not to the implementation of the law itself.
The company in question is called Nemschoff Chairs, and it manufactures a whole range of health care furniture for waiting rooms and so forth. Around 100 jobs are being moved out of Iowa as part of a consolidation with another plant in Wisconsin, where around 50 of those jobs will be preserved.
But Obamacare’s implementation had nothing to do with the decision, Mark Schurman, a spokesman for parent company Herman Miller, tells me.
“We never said health care reform is the reason we’re closing and consolidating that operation,” Schurman said. “We never said it’s the result of the health care reform legislation.”
Schurman said that lack of demand for the product was a leading culprit. He pointed to a variety of factors that are inducing companies that buy Nemschoff’s health care furniture to hold off, including general economic conditions, the continuing bad news from Europe, and — yes — the drive to repeal or change Obamacare in Congress and the Supreme Court.
“The ongoing uncertainty surrounding what health care reform will take place has caused some health care provider customers and other related aspects of the industry to defer investments in their facilities,” Schurman said.
“The issue is not the administration’s proposed reforms,” he continued. “The issue is that there is no certainty as to what reform is going to look like. Is it going to be repealed or modified? Is it going to be decided in June by the Supreme Court, or the election? Or decided through a series of lawsuits?”
“The uncertainty is caused by the ongoing debate,” Schurman said. “Were there no ongoing debate, there would be no uncertainty.”