Media Blog

Uncertainty Reigns in Obama’s Economy

The White House invited eight local-TV stations from across the country to speak to the president on Monday, hoping to hammer home their economic message. For the most part, the interviews played like a tired routine in which the president delivered rote lines and the local reporters nervously swallowed, nodded, and proceeded with the next approved question.

One exception was KTIV of Sioux City, Iowa, which asked the president to respond to the claim by a small business, Nemschoff Chairs, that they had closed shop specifically due to the burdens brought on by Obama.

Obama brushed it off: “The only folks that have been impacted, in terms of the health-care bill, are insurance companies who are required to make sure that they’re providing preventive care ,or they’re not dropping their coverage when you get sick, and so this particular company probably wouldn’t have been impacted by the healthcare bill.”

As it turns out, KTIV didn’t get it quite right. Nemschoff Chairs, which manufactures furnishings for doctors offices, laboratories, and other healthcare settings, isn’t closing to avoid the crushing costs of Obamacare, per se. But the truth isn’t much better. In a conversation with National Review Online, company spokesman Mark Schurman (who laughed at and declined to answer a question about his political affiliations) blamed the general economic backdrop, the stultifying effect of ever-increasing regulations, and the uncertainty surrounding the exact effects of the health-care bill.

“The worst possible condition for business is uncertainty, because you don’t know what the rules of the game are, and until you know what those rules are, it’s difficult for you to plan,” Schurman said.

Schurman cited three factors in the decision by Nemschoff’s parent company, Herman Miller, to close the 50,000 square foot facility in Sioux Center, and ultimately lay off 111 employees:

“One being the general economic backdrop, which both domestically and internationally, there’s been a great deal of certainly choppy economic conditions, which certainly added to a general softness in the healthcare industry, just as in every industry. [Two,] we’ve had some rising costs associated with regulations and regulatory environment associated with the healthcare furnishings as a category. And a third element was the uncertainty surrounding federal healthcare reform. That uncertainty was causing, in addition to those other factors, […] healthcare providers, our customers for those products, to delay or defer investments in their facilities until they better understood what was the landscape that they were going to be operating in, because, obviously, when you don’t know what your market conditions are, it’s difficult for companies to make significant investments.”

Throughout his interviews, Obama focuses only on a few factors damaging the U.S. economy, heaping blame on singular targets — fat cat CEOs, House Republicans, or insurance companies selfishly denying coverage to sick people. He appears to believe that different sectors of the economy operate in isolation, and punishing one part won’t affect the economy on the whole. 

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