Affordable Care Act / Healthcare / Politics

The Grim Gruber

Jonathan Gruber is a prominent economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T). He was thrown into the national spotlight this week when a video of him speaking at an academic conference surfaced. The footage displays Gruber dealing judgments about the lack of transparency and voter ignorance that he and the Obama Administration took advantage of in order to successfully pass the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Gruber’s intent was explicit:

“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that. In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed… Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass… Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”

This certainly sounds like the mentality of the “most transparent administration in history”.

Politically, it is impossible for the Obama administration to accept responsibility for Gruber’s statements. Apart from the consistent poll numbers dating back to pre-passage of the bill that show that the Affordable Care Act has never been viewed favorably by the majority of the American public, the mid-term losses the Democratic party took in 2010 and 2014 have left them in an extremely vulnerable state. A story of this magnitude and the possible implications of it gaining full national attention must be addressed. A full frontal attack is necessary from the Obama administration and it’s allies.

To attempt to clear the now muddy but formally transparent waters, the Obama Adminstration rushed out their patsy Josh Earnest to address media questions regarding Gruber’s statements. He assured the American public that “the process associated with the writing and passing and implementing of the Affordable Care Act has been extraordinarily transparent”. He then went on to attack Republicans for being “less than forthright and transparent” regarding their views on the ACA.

As the White House touted their explanation as the truth, two more videos were revealed from two additional occasions, each containing similar content. One included yet another instance of Gruber referring to American voters as “too stupid to understand the difference” in regards to the concept of tax credits. The other explained one of the major deceptions from the administration: taxing of the health insurance industry.

“We just tax the insurance companies, they pass on higher prices that offsets the tax break we get, it ends up being the same thing. It’s a very clever, you know, basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter,”

In this 2012 statement, Gruber explains how they deceived the American people on purpose by insisting that any type of tax on so called “Cadillac” insurance plans would be felt by the insurance companies and not by the policy holders. This was simply never the case. As both economists and the administration knew prior to it’s passage, any tax implemented on insurance companies through the ACA would eventually be passed onto individuals in the form of higher premiums. Instead of being honest with the American people, Gruber and the administration took advantage of the American people through lies.

As they lied then, they continue to lie now. One such habitual liar in regards to the Affordable Care Act is current House minority leader Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi was Speaker of the House during the health care reform debate and an integral piece to the passage of the ACA. Yesterday during her weekly briefing, Pelosi addressed questions regarding Jonathan Gruber and his involvement with the Affordable Care Act, responding by saying “I don’t know who he is. He didn’t help write our bill”.

Regardless of her true knowledge of Jonathan Gruber, she mentioned his name not only in an 2009 interview but lauded Gruber’s ACA analysis directly on the House Speaker’s website. While both of these could easily be instances where Pelosi was fed Gruber’s name for talking point purposes, what cannot be concealed is his direct involvement in the formation of the law. ABC News reported back in 2010 that Gruber was “awarded a $95,000 contract with the HHS and in June a $297,000 contract with the HHS for providing ‘Technical Assistance in Evaluating Options for National Healthcare Reform’”. Today, a Washington Times editorial confirmed the transfer payment of our taxpayer dollars to Gruber for his assistance in this great deception.

The extent to which they deceived the American public will only become more and more apparent as the meat and bones of the ACA are finally implemented in coming years.