VERONIQUE DE RUGY: Yes, Jonathan Gruber Is an Obamacare Architect. Gruber is the Todd Akins of Obamacare, except unlike Akins, Gruber really did matter…a lot.
TV NETWORKS IGNORE REVELATION OF JONATHAN GRUBER’S CLOSE TIES TO WHITE HOUSE:
All three network morning shows on Monday ignored the revelation that Jonathan Gruber, an ObamaCare architect who called Americans “stupid,” had closer ties than the administration previously let on. According to the Wall Street Journal, there were 20,000 pages of e-mails. Writer Stephanie Armour explained, “The emails show frequent consultations between Mr. Gruber and top Obama administration staffers and advisers in the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services on the Affordable Care Act.”
RELATED: And of course, “WH continues to deny Jonathan Gruber was very involved in O-care.”
OF COURSE HE DID: Emails reveal Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber worked closely with the White House. According to the Washington Examiner:
[I]n 2013 Gruber referred to the “stupidity of the American voter” and the “huge political advantage” the healthcare legislation’s lack of transparency would provide in getting the bill passed.
The ensuing public furor against Gruber for his comments caused the Obama administration to distance themselves from the former adviser.
But the 20,000 pages of emails provided by the House Oversight Committee to The Wall Street Journal paint a different picture.
The emails show Gruber kept HHS abreast of his conversations with health reporters and lawmakers: He let them know when a conversation went well and a story would post; when he got pushback about his undisclosed contract he revealed only their description of his activities; and that he worked to convince Sen. Mary Landrieu to support the bill.
“There’s no doubt [Gruber] was a much more integral part of this than they’ve said,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah), chairman of the committee that released the emails, reported the Wall Street Journal. “He put up this facade he was an arm’s length away. It was a farce.”
He was undoubtedly the White House’s academic frontman. And his attitude about the “stupidity” of Americans wasn’t aberrational, but shared by his compatriots in the Obama Administration. And you know what? He was right, because the Democrats in Congress fell for numerous Obamacare lies hook, line and sinker.
TWEET OF THE DAY: Terrorists.
Totally different. They’re Democrats, and needed votes from those dumb flyover rubes, and any trick that can convince those low-sloping-forehead types to vote right is admirable.
MAN OF THE PEOPLE: White House defends private Prince party.
The White House on Monday defended a private concert over the weekend featuring Prince and Stevie Wonder, saying the Obamas paid for it themselves.
Around 500 people attended the event, which was not disclosed on the president’s public schedule. Press secretary Josh Earnest confirmed the first couple hosted a private party for their friends and said they “did it on their own dime.”
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, singer Ciara, and the Rev. Al Sharpton were among those in attendance. The guest list reportedly also included powerful business figures such as Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein and American Express CEO Ken Chenault.
Given the size of the party and the influential guest list, Earnest was asked why the event was not made public. The spokesman said hosting a private event, while an “appropriate thing” to do, is “not part of the responsibilities of the president and first lady.” . . .
He said the White House would not release a guest list.
Well, okay then.
HOW ABOUT THAT: Emails Reveal Jonathan Gruber’s Obamacare Work Was Of ‘Key Political Importance.’ “The biggest takeaway from the emails is that they undermine one claim made by the Obama administration that Gruber was merely a bit player in the development of Obamacare. Described by many as the ‘architect’ of the health-care law, Gruber was thrown under the bus after numerous videos surfaced last year of him bragging that Obamacare was passed because of ‘a lack of transparency’ into the law and because the American people ‘were too stupid’ to realize they were being manipulated into supporting it.”
OBAMA’S “BULLY” PULPIT: Obama took a cheap shot at the Supreme Court for even agreeing to hear the Obamacare subsidy case, King v. Burwell, telling reporters at a press conference in Germany “This should be an easy case” and “Frankly, it probably shouldn’t even have been taken up.” Joel Gehrke over at NRO notes:
Jonathan Gruber, one of Obamacare’s architects, famously contradicted that assertion in 2012, flatly admitting that the law had been designed to withhold subsidies from those who purchased coverage through the federal exchange in an attempt to prod states to set up their own marketplaces.
“What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits — but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill,” Gruber said. Yet when asked today to say how states should prepare for the prospect of the court adopting that reading, Obama was dismissive of his opponents legal reasoning, and the idea that any well-informed jurist could be swayed by it. “I think it’s important for us to go ahead and assume that the Supreme Court is going to do what most legal scholars who have looked at this would expect them to do,” he said. “I’m optimistic that the Supreme Court will play it straight when it comes to the interpretation.”
It’s typical Obama bullying of the Court, suggesting that it would not be “play[ing] it straight” if it rules in favor of the plaintiffs and gives effect to the plain language of a law that limits subsidies to “an Exchange established by the State.” Obama similarly took to his “bully” pulpit after the Supreme Court’s oral arguments in the first big Obamacare case, NFIB v. Sebelius (2012). It’s almost like he thinks the Supreme Court is the King’s Bench or something.
HOUSE VOTES TO STRIP GALLEGO LANGUAGE FROM NDAA REAUTHORIZATION: In a 221-202 vote Thursday night, the House passed Rep. Mo Brooks’ (R-AL) amendment to strip the Gallego language. As you may recall from previous posts, the Gallego amendment (named for its sponsor, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ)) would have encouraged the Secretary of Defense to hire illegal aliens who’ve been granted amnesty by President Obama’s unilateral executive actions on immigration.
The bad news is that 20 Republicans voted with the Democrats to oppose Brooks’ amendment. A list of the 20 can be found here. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi predictably called the Brooks’ amendment “xenophobic” and “un-American.”
RELATED: Los Angeles Times reports on the House vote with the following headline: “Republicans Block Young Immigrant ‘Dreamers’ from Military.” Not once does the Times acknowledge that these “immigrants” are in this country illegally.
NDAA AMNESTY PROVISION UP FOR HOUSE VOTE TODAY: Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) rightly says the House bill “betrays Americans” by containing a provision promoted by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) that encourages the Secretary of Defense to hire illegal aliens who’ve been granted amnesty by President Obama. Rep. Brooks asserts:
As America’s military downsizes, there are a limited number of enlistment opportunities for American citizens,” Brooks wrote. “Each time an illegal alien takes an enlistment opportunity, an American or lawful immigrant loses an enlistment opportunity. The ratio is one-to-one. Period. That is the math.
He’s right. If you agree with Rep. Brooks, today would be the day to call your Member of Congress and tell him/her that.
The backstory is here.
UPDATE: Mark Halperin Interviews Ted Cruz, Expects Ricky Ricardo. “Frankly, by now I expect to consistently encounter discrimination and bigotry from Liberals. It’s in their mindset – identity politics is their lifeblood. . . . Cruz is much too polite, but I’m not. Here’s something in Spanish, Halperin.”
RACISM IN TODAY’S POLITICIZED MEDIA: Ruben Navarrette: Halperin interview of Ted Cruz was painful.
Imagine the following pep talk that a young Ted Cruz might have gotten from his father, Rafael, about 35 years ago.
“My son, I was tortured in a jail cell in Cuba, but I managed to come to the United States and build a life so that you could live your dreams. I grew up speaking Spanish, but I made sure you spoke English so you could go far. If you study hard, you can attend great universities. You can clerk for the chief justice of the Supreme Court, become a great trial lawyer and argue nine cases before the high court, get elected to the U.S. Senate, and someday run for president.
“Then, after all the family’s efforts and sacrifices, one day, you can go on an interview program and be asked by a smug and clueless white journalist if you’re authentically Cuban.”
Watching Mark Halperin of Bloomberg Politics interview Cruz recently, I wasn’t just uncomfortable. I was actually nauseated.
As a journalist, I felt embarrassed for Halperin. As a Hispanic, I felt like I was watching a college fraternity have fun with racial stereotypes.
Well, minus the fun part. But you’ll note that it’s overwhelmingly Democrats who traffic in racial stereotypes; they just usually get a pass.
WELL, GOOD: Western Hemisphere Wipes Out Its Third Virus: Rubella. “The Americas have led the way when it comes to eradicating diseases. It was the first region in the world to eradicate smallpox in 1971 and then polio in 1994. And the PAHO already has its sights on another target. ‘With rubella under our belt, now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and finish the job of eliminating measles as well,’ Etienne said.”
HOUSE NDAA REAUTHORIZATION ENCOURAGES DOD TO HIRE ILLEGALS IN U.S. MILITARY: The House Armed Services Committee on Thursday passed the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), including an amendment offered by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) that explicitly encourages the Secretary of Defense to hire illegal aliens granted amnesty by President Obama’s unilateral executive orders.
Our military needs the best soldiers, marines and airmen it can get.
We shouldn’t let our broken immigration system stand in the way of our military’s recruitment goals.
By statute, the Secretary can authorize the enlistment of non-citizens when it is “vital to the national interest.” And enabling the best and brightest in our nation to serve in uniform, including DREAMers, is clearly “vital to the national interest.”
Gallego’s amendment squeaked by on a 33-30 vote, with the support of 3 Republicans. (The Committee has 36 Republicans and 27 Democrats). The 3 Republican “yes” votes came from: Frank LoBiodo (R-NJ); Mike Coffman (R-CO); and Chris Gibson (R-NY).
But Gallego’s Armed Services Committee colleague Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), issued a press release Thursday slamming the amendment:
“It makes no sense to me that, at the same time the Army is downsizing and issuing pink slips to American soldiers serving in Afghanistan, there are Congressmen who help illegal aliens deprive American citizens of military service opportunities.
“It’s appalling that some members of the Republican conference, and frankly all members of the Democratic conference, place illegal immigrants on pedestals over American citizens, contrary to the needs andwishes of the American people.
“Illegal aliens are already taking jobs from and suppressing the wages of struggling American families in the private job market. Now Democrats and wayward Republicans are similarly and actively undermining Americans’ opportunities to serve in the military.
“It is no wonder that, in the face of such economic hostility emanating from Washington, America’s youth are too often despondent and all-to-willing to express their dissatisfaction via arson, assaults, riots, and other forms of criminal conduct.”
Rep Brooks is right, and the his fellow Republicans– Reps. Coffman, LoBiondo and Gibson–ought to be ashamed. The Democrats have been trying to get this language approved for years. It is more than ironic that this language gets approved in a Republican-controlled committee, now that the Republicans have retaken control of Congress, in no small part because of Americans’ opposition to the President’s unconstitutional executive orders on immigration.
If you live in Rep. Coffman, LoBiondo or Gibson’s districts and oppose the Gallego amendment, give them a call:
Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO): 202.225.7882
Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ): (202) 225-6572
Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY): (202) 225-5614
For national security reasons, the U.S. military should be restricted to U.S. citizens, and the invocation of this “vital national interest” must be rarely, if ever, invoked. And I hardly think that, in an era of Obama-ordered military troop reductions and even pay cuts, there is any “vital national interest” that would require hiring illegal immigrants, no matter how sincere their desire to serve our country. They can serve our country in other, honorable ways, such as working hard, paying taxes, going to school and being good, law-abiding neighbors.
OUCH: How I learned to stop loving Obama and worry about the bomb: The Times of Israel’s military correspondent takes stock, six years after writing a heartfelt letter in support of the presidential candidacy of a young senator from Illinois.
Or as we say here in InstaPunditland, “another rube self-identifies.”
AT LEAST THEY WEREN’T INVESTIGATING SCOTT WALKER’S SWEATER PURCHASES: Fact-Checking The Fact Checkers: Politico Stumbles In Its Super-Sleuthing. It’s like they’re still trying to protect Jonathan Gruber.
SALENA ZITO ON JOURNALISM: Arrogant media elites mock Middle America. Most of these media folks come from flyover country, and their main source of self-regard lies in feeling superior to the rubes they left back home, who never properly appreciated them in high school. . . .
A SMALL MEASURE OF ACCOUNTABILITY: Mass. Gov. Baker forces Obamacare architect Gruber off board. “
CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Looks like Gruber thought stupid Americans wouldn’t notice if he overbilled them. “Jonathan Gruber is still the gift that keeps on giving if you cover the political beat. Or perhaps in this case, the gift that keeps on taking. A review of the books seems to indicate that Mr. Gruber submitted some interesting invoices to the state of Vermont for his work on the development of the now abandoned Green Mountain Care single payer plan. Unfortunately, they may have been overstated.”
KEVIN WILLIAMSON: Rudy Is Right: Barack Obama doesn’t even like America.
Questions about patriotism and love of country are, according to our self-appointed referees, out of bounds, déclassé, boob bait for bubbas, etc. Those are questions that we are not allowed to ask in polite society. Why? Because polite society does not want to hear the answers.
Does Barack Obama like America? The people around him certainly seem to have their reservations. Michelle Obama said — twice, at separate campaign events — that her husband’s ascending to the presidency meant that “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country.” She was in her mid 40s at the time, her “adult lifetime” having spanned decades during which she could not be “really proud” of her country. Barack Obama spent years in the Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s church as the churchman fulminated: “God Damn America!” The Reverend Wright’s infamous “God Damn America!” sermon charges the country with a litany of abuses: slavery, mistreatment of the Indians, “treating citizens as less than human,” etc.
A less raving version of the same indictment can be found in the president’s own speeches and books. His social circle includes such figures as Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dohrn, who expressed their love of country by participating in a murderous terrorist campaign against it. Does Barack Obama love his country? Call me a rube for saying so, but it’s a fair question.
Though it’s one that our media folks might have done a better job exploring in 2008.
But here’s why Democrats, and their media protectors, are so unhappy with this question with regard to Obama in particular: It turns 2008 on its head. Obama’s appeal in 2008 lay in no small part in xenophilia: We’re so open-minded, we’re not just electing a President with a Muslim-sounding name, we’re electing a President with the same name as our most recent wartime foe! It let people feel enlightened, and progressive.
But all those differences that seemed so appealing can quickly flip into grounds for suspicion, especially when the object is behaving suspiciously. After all, if — like me — you believe in evolution, you might think that xenophobia, as such a well-established human trait, must have had beneficial functions: Maybe the xenos couldn’t be trusted, or even expected, to have the polity’s best interests at heart. Maybe, when people start getting worried about the polity’s future, those novel characteristics that once seemed so appealing now seem threatening. So while there’s a general reason the establishment wants to take the patriotism question off the table — patriotism is unsophisticated, and so limiting — there’s also a specific reason, which is that it’s something Obama’s vulnerable on right now, and it’s something the establishment can’t afford to cast Obama loose on, for reasons internal to its coalition.
But of course, the more they attack Giuliani on this, the more attention they draw to it. And even those who are, at first, repelled by Giuliani’s argument may find doubts lingering, and perhaps even growing, as they look at Obama’s presidency in a new light. . . .
And what are those reasons internal to the coalition? Williamson explains:
There is a personality type common among the Left’s partisans, and it has a name: Holden Caulfield. He is adolescent, perpetually disappointed, and ever on the lookout for phoniness and hypocrisy. His is the sort of personality inclined to believe in his heart the declaration that “behind every great fortune there is a great crime.” (He also believes that this is a quotation from Honoré de Balzac, whose works he has not read, when it fact it comes from Richard O’Connor’s The Oil Barons: Men of Greed and Grandeur.) He believes with Elizabeth Warren that the economy is a rigged game based on exploitation and deceit rather than on innovation, productivity, and competition. He believes with Barack Obama that the only reason (e.g.) Staples does not pay its part-time associates more or schedule them for more hours is so that it can pad its executive pay and protect its “billions” in annual profits.
(He believes that Staples, whose financials he has not read, makes “billions,” when in fact it does no such thing.) Say an admiring word about Steve Jobs and he’ll swear that there are four-year-olds working 169 hours a week in Chinese sweatshops producing iPods at the point of a bayonet. He believes that most people get into Harvard and Yale because they have influential parents (that’s the University of Texas, unfortunately), that rich Americans mostly inherit their money (in reality, about 15 percent of their assets are inherited, less than for middle-class families), that the U.S. goes to war abroad to enrich contractors at home, and that the entire history of Latin America must be understood through the prism of the United Fruit Company’s maneuverings in 1954.
Give Holden Caulfield a television show and you’ve got Chris Hayes.
Barack Obama has a great, big, heaping dose of Holden Caulfield in him. That and chutzpah: When as a candidate he was in trouble because of his association with the racist lunacy of the Reverend Wright, he responded by giving the American public at large a lecture on racism and its culpability therein, while his minions began proclaiming that the only reason to oppose this politician with the racist associates was — presto-change-o! — racism.
Yep. Read the whole thing.
WELL, THIS IS A COUNTRY THAT ELECTED OBAMA TWICE, SO THAT’S A FAIR QUESTION: Are We Smart Enough For Democracy? “Like the antidemocrats going back to ancient Athens, Wilson’s ideas reflected contempt for the people who lack this specialized knowledge and so cannot be trusted with the power to run their own lives. Today’s progressives, as Jonathan Gruber’s remarks show, share the same distrust of the masses and the preference for what French political philosopher Chantal Delsol calls ‘techno-politics,’ rule by technocrats.”
OBAMACARE ARCHITECT JONATHAN GRUBER: “Ultimately, what may be needed to address the obesity problem are direct taxes on body weight.”
It’s a good start, but I think we should also tax people for being unattractive. When you look good, that’s a positive externality. When you look bad, well, you’re hurting others.
You laugh, but as the government gets more and more desperate for revenue. . . .
HE’S LIKE A ONE-MAN NARRATIVE BUSTER: That time Jonathan Gruber made the case against paid leave.
In a 1994 article for the American Economic Review on maternity benefits, Gruber wrote, “I study several state and federal mandates which stipulated that childbirth be covered comprehensively in health insurance plans, raising the relative cost of insuring women of childbearing age. I find substantial shifting of the costs of these mandates to the wages of the targeted group.”
Sherk also argued that a paid leave proposal from the Obama administration would lead to lower wages for workers, because employers would seek to keep overall compensation costs the same.
“The popularity of Obama’s paid sick leave proposal depends on workers not realizing it ultimately comes out of their paychecks,” Sherk wrote. “If the president’s proposal becomes law, many workers will lose the equivalent of seven days of pay a year.”
But why let facts get in the way of a good narrative, right?
At this point, I’m wondering if Gruber is a mole.
WORRYING ABOUT a measles comeback:
A case of red measles, also known as Rubeola, was diagnosed earlier this week in Moorseville, North Carolina — worrying health officials and highlighting the renewed threat of measles in this country.
The infected person was unvaccinated and had recently returned from a trip to India confirmed Rebecca Carter, the public information officer for Mecklenburg county. . . .
Before the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine series became common practice there were hundreds of thousands of cases each year in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent reported. The disease has come roaring back as more people refuse or delay immunization, Schaffner noted.
This year there have been 610 confirmed measles cases reported to CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. That is the highest number of cases since measles elimination was documented in the U.S. in 2000.
The majority of people at risk for measles are unvaccinated, Schaffner pointed out. Traveling to countries where there are large outbreaks also increases the risk, according to the CDC.
Many of the American cases this year were traced to an ongoing outbreak in the Philippines.
We used to have more stringent health and vaccination checks for international travelers. Maybe we should think about bringing those back.
YES, EVEN THE NAME OF THE “AFFORDABLE CARE ACT” WAS A CALCULATED LIE: Obama Adviser Jonathan Gruber In 2009: Obamacare Will NOT Be Affordable. “Gruber said that Obamacare had no cost controls in it and would not be affordable in an October 2009 policy brief, presented here exclusively by TheDC. At the time, Gruber had already personally counseled Obama in the Oval Office and served on Obama’s presidential transition team. Obama, meanwhile, told the American people that their premiums would go down dramatically.”
DEBLASIO’S NEW YORK: Forward, Into The Past!
Is this Christmas 2014 — or 1974?
A stark reminder of New York City’s bad old days appeared on the streets of Manhattan Thursday , as three-card monte dealers turned out in force on Fifth Avenue.
An army of the shady gamblers — offering both crooked card and shell games — set up between West 53rd and 56th streets, fleecing Christmas tourists like hapless rubes in an old-time movie.
Go ahead, bite the Big Apple. Don’t mind the maggots!
THOU SHALT NOT CONTRADICT THE NARRATIVE, ESPECIALLY WITH ICKY PATRIARCHAL FACTS: Angry protesters denounce George Will at MSU; called ‘rape denier,’ backs turned. Hey, they’ve been turning their backs on the truth for a long time. But the biggest joke: signs stating “rape is not a pawn to be politicized.” Uh huh.
Even more delicious: “At Michigan State’s ‘alternative ceremony,’ one speaker was professor Ruben Parra-Cardona, associate director of MSU’s Research Consortium on Gender-Based Violence. Ruben, in a speech, criticized Will for seeing sexual violence ideologically. The scholar also checked his own privilege.”
Related: Charles C.W. Cooke: Does Truth Matter to the Feminist Left? The reactions to the unraveling of the Rolling Stone story suggest not. “Where most readers accepted with alacrity the possibility that Sabrina Erdely could have got it wrong, the tireless archaeologists of our supposedly ubiquitous ‘rape culture’ took to remolding their position every six-and-a-half minutes and to carrying on in public like a bunch of frothy peanut-gallery-voyeurs at a backwoods 17th-century witch trial. Just a few short weeks ago, when Rolling Stone’s story was almost universally believed to be true, we were urged to read each and every sordid detail of the case so that we might better acquaint ourselves with the broader problems that are presented by ‘rape culture.’ Today, as the story continues to collapse, the opposite view is regnant, and the very same people who pointed excitedly to Erdely’s work now contend that we should not be focusing on an individual case such as this in the first place.”
PETER SUDERMAN: Jonathan Gruber is a Liar. Was He a Liar Under Oath?
He seems to have spoken “glibly” on multiple occasions.
As The Hill notes, in a late 2010 lecture to students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Gruber is a faculty member, he talked about the health law and described his role in its creation, saying, “Full disclaimer: I’m going to describe it objectively, but I helped write it.”
In another 2010 video, captured by C-SPAN and posted at Townhall, Gruber also noted his bias in favor of the law while claiming to have helped write it. “Once again, unabashed, I helped write the federal [health care] bill as well,” he said. That remark was made the same month that Obamacare was signed into law.
Two years later, Gruber hadn’t changed his story. In a now-infamous 2012 lecture on the law’s health exchanges at Noblis, Gruber not only said that states that don’t set up exchanges don’t have access to tax subsidies, he also referred to the “the one bit of the bill I actually wrote.”
The issue isn’t whether those statements were glib. It’s whether they were true. (Notably, when asked by Rep. Scott Desjarlais (R-Tenn.) whether other embarassing videotaped statements were lies or not, Gruber would only say that his remarks were “glib and thoughtless and really inexcusable.”)
There is no way to reconcile his multiple past statements with the statements he made this week while under oath. Either Gruber spent two years lying about his role in writing the law, or he was lying this week in his sworn congressional testimony.
Will the statute of limitations run before Attorney General Kurt Schlichter takes over DOJ under President Cruz?
GOVERNMENT BY CROMNIBUS: Blind, Deaf and Dumb. The important thing is that members of Congress get to reward donors without taking clear responsibility.
HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Health Care to Suppress Wages Even More.
Forget the raise: health care will cut even more into the paychecks of many American workers next year. . . .
When Sen. Chuck Schumer sought to distance himself from the ACA he said that the timing for the law was wrong because “and if health care costs were going up, it really did not affect them.” That continues to be untrue. Even if you get insurance from your employer, the lost wages are significant. Anyone who tries to downplay the seriousness of the health care problem is missing the reality of costs that eat more and more into American incomes. In 2009, for example, David Goldhill calculated that even on conservative estimates, a company would put a little under $2 million towards an employee’s health care plan over the course of an employee’s career. If you are concerned about wage stagnation, you have to be concerned about health care.
Related: Gruber Took The Measure Of The ACA:
Gruber’s attempt to downplay his role in the ACA is unconvincing, for reasons we suggested here. But the most damning comments by Gruber were not his “glib” words about the American public but his accurate analysis of the Affordable Care Act. For instance, in one of the videos that became controversial, Gruber is taped saying “What the American public cares about is costs. And that’s why even though the bill that they made is 90% health insurance coverage and 10% about cost control, all you ever hear people talk about is cost control.” That is not glib; regardless of whether you think the law was sold deceptively in the way Gruber suggests, his understanding of the law’s focus on coverage over cost is correct. Whether or not Gruber was “the architect” of the law, whether or not his more noxious comment can fairly be associated with the law, he understands the law—and that is damning enough.
It’s damning stuff all the way down.
AN INTERESTING JONATHAN GRUBER EXCHANGE:
“If there are fewer elderly people, particularly poor elderly people, wouldn’t that save a ton of money too? … And do you understand the dangerous implications of going down this path?” Massie asked.
“I have no philosophy of abortion. I have no philosophy of end-of-life care,” Gruber answered. “My job as an economist is to deliver the empirical facts so that you all can make the necessary decisions.”
Pressing further, Massie asked Gruber if he advocates the rationing of end-of-life care, and “as an economist, does it save money?”
“I do not advocate that the federal government should ration end-of-life care,” Gruber answered.
PAUL GREGORY: The Fatal Conceit Of Jonathan Gruber.
I THINK THE “TORTURE REPORT” RELEASE WAS SET FOR TODAY TO DISTRACT PEOPLE FROM THIS: Prez health care architect Jonathan Gruber to feel heat at hearing.
Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber — the gaffe-prone MIT professor who boasted that Democrats purposely deceived the American public about the health care law — is expected to break his silence this morning in a much-anticipated congressional hearing Republicans predict will undo the Affordable Care Act.
“This is the beginning of the unraveling of Obama-care,” U.S. Rep John Mica (R-Fla.) told the Herald. “The hearing clearly will focus on the deception, some of the false information given to both the American public and the Congress in instituting it and getting it passed. … It may not be the repeal, but the rewriting of it and looking at how we can cover more people with less bureaucracy and less federal mandates.”
Gruber, an MIT economist who also sits on the Massachusetts Health Connector board, and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner are slated to testify at a congressional hearing called “Examining ObamaCare Transparency Failures” before the GOP-led House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today.
Recently surfaced videos of Gruber bluntly stating that Obamacare passed thanks to a purposeful lack of transparency and the “stupidity of the American voter” gave critics new fodder for their feud with the White House. . . .
Democrats, meanwhile, are treating Gruber like political poison. A lawyer for the Obama administration last week asked committee chairman Darrell Issa for Tavenner to testify separately from Gruber, according to a report from Politico. The unusual request suggests the Obama administration is deeply worried about Tavenner and Gruber being photographed sitting side by side.
Relax guys. The press will cover for you. They don’t want to be on the receiving end for another of Obama’s profanity-laden diatribes.
OH, HELL NO — PUT THE CHAIRS EXTRA-CLOSE TOGETHER: HHS asks GOP: Keep us away from Gruber.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is asking lawmakers not to seat ObamaCare consultant Jonathan Gruber next to Medicare’s top official when the two testify on Capitol Hill next week.
HHS Assistant Secretary for Legislation Jim Esquea wrote to the House Oversight Committee with the request, stating that government witnesses are “almost always afforded an opportunity” to sit alone or with other federal officials.
“The accommodation of separate panels for government witnesses reflects important comity in congressional-executive relations,” Esquea wrote. “The relatively few exceptions to this practice reinforce the seriousness of this accommodation.”
The Oversight panel, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), is preparing to grill Gruber over his comments that the “stupidity of the American voter” and a “lack of transparency” helped ObamaCare pass in 2010.
“The request is currently before Chairman Issa but at past hearings, government officials have testified alongside other non-administration witnesses,” said Becca Watkins, a spokeswoman for the committee.
While he has apologized, Gruber’s remarks have become their own flashpoint in debates over ObamaCare. Republicans say the comments confirm their view that the law was not passed in an open process.
Democrats have sought to distance themselves from Gruber. The Esquea letter is the clearest example related to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, who will serve as a witness at the same hearing.
Having the two seated together — with all the resulting photos — would be a public relations nightmare for the administration.
Which it should be, and the GOP would be crazy not to make it happen.
THE HILL: Dark Days Ahead For ObamaCare.
The Obama administration is facing a slew of healthcare challenges as the winter holidays approach.
While this fall has been a far cry from last year, when HealthCare.gov was melting down, 2014 has brought wholly unexpected problems to the fore for federal health officials and the White House.
Take the conflict surrounding Jonathan Gruber, the ObamaCare consultant whose suggestion that a “lack of transparency” and voters’ “stupidity” helped the law pass, went viral.
Though Democrats have sought to distance themselves from Gruber, his remarks have become a new flashpoint in debate over healthcare reform, invigorating GOP critics as the party prepares to take control of the Senate.
Gruber has agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee on Dec. 9, in a final hearing for outgoing chairman and relentless administration antagonist Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).
The gathering, also set to include Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, is sure to prove a distraction for the White House as officials try once again to keep a lid on opposition to the law.
Here are four additional challenges that the administration faces on healthcare this winter.
Read the whole thing.
SELF-GRUBERING: Obama: “I just took an action to change the law.” Well, this should help the legal challenge to his immigration order . . . .
KURT SCHLICHTER: America, You’ve Been Grubered!
REPORTS THAT HE’LL BE REPLACED BY JONATHAN GRUBER ARE UNCONFIRMED: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel To Resign. I’m no Hagel fan, but he’s been one of the less-incompetent members of the team. There have been signs that he was being marginalized for quite a while.
Perhaps as a favor to Hillary, Obama will offer the job to Jim Webb. Or maybe it would be a favor to Elizabeth Warren. . . .
STEPHEN MILLER: Memo To Reince: Enough is Enough. Boycott NBC and ABC. “ABC and NBC have instituted a three-week blackout — on network broadcasts, websites and social media pages — of the devastating admissions of MIT economist Jonathan Gruber. The ACA architect repeatedly boasted of deceiving the American public about legislation that cost six million people their family doctor. This should be the final straw in any relationship the GOP and RNC leadership has with these networks, period. No more debates, no more appearances on ‘Meet The Press,’ ‘Morning Joe,’ or ‘This Week’ on ABC. . . . Boycott both NBC and ABC over failing to report on Gruber’s revelations and put CBS on final notice over the revelations that they coordinated with the Obama administration to tank Sharyl Attkisson’s Benghazi reporting. Network news is a dying religion becoming more ideologically rigid, forgoing any attempt to stay relevant in a media landscape that no longer needs them. Leave them behind. We’ve already shown that it works. Marginalize them and label them progressive news outlets and make them live by it. MSNBC came out of the progressive closet fully earlier this year and their ratings and web traffic got worse. Air America is no more and Current TV is now an unloved stepchild Al Gore gave away for oil money.”
UPDATE: A reader points out that ABC News did cover Gruber, though, of course, not in the saturation-bombing way they would have covered it if parties were reversed.
YOU’VE BEEN GRUBERED! If You Like Your Obamacare Health Plan, You Can Keep It, If HHS Doesn’t Pick a New One For You. “Here’s a Friday Obamacare news-dump for you: In a 300-page regulatory proposal released late this afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it is considering changing Obamacare’s auto-renewal rules so that, within the health law’s exchanges, instead of being automatically renewed into your current health plan, you’d be moved into the lowest cost plan from the same service tier. . . . It’s not just auto-reenrollment. It’s auto-reassignment. Basically, if you like your plan, but don’t go out of your way to intentionally re-enroll, the kind and wise folks at HHS or state health exchanges might just pick a new plan—perhaps with different doctors, clinics, cost structures, and benefit options—for you. And if you want to switch back? Good luck once open enrollment is closed. There’s always next year. A hassle? Maybe. But have faith: They know what’s best.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED THIS DURING LAST NIGHT’S AMNESTY TALK EXPLOSION: Top Obama bundler accused of child rape.
On Wednesday, Portland, Ore. police arrested Terrence Patrick Bean, who has been charged with two felony counts of having sex with a minor last year. This man is not just any old guy accused of having sex with a 15-year-old – he’s a big-money Democratic donor and liberal political activist with connections inside the Obama White House. Bean raised more than a half-million dollars for Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. . . .
A search of the Federal Election Commission’s campaign-finance database turns up thousands in donations every cycle by Bean to the Democratic Party’s most powerful leaders, including Hillary Clinton, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. Dick Durbin, and Rep. Barney Frank, among others. Photos of Bean posted online show him flying on Air Force One with Obama.
Although this report is in USA Today, I assume the major TV networks — which haven’t even covered Jonathan Gruber — will give this story a pass. Remember: Making sure you know what they want you to know is job #2 for them; making sure you don’t know what they don’t want you to know is job #1.
DAVID DAYEN: Why Gruber-Gate Is So Devastating To Democrats. “The growing impression that politicians don’t play straight with their constituents is completely toxic, particularly to Democrats, who actually want to use government to improve people’s lives. It’s one thing to downplay unpalatable choices made in the law; it’s another to never disclose the consequences of legislation until it’s too late for anyone to react. Combine that with the moustache-twirling of a Jonathan Gruber, saying that the idiots should be happy for what they got, and you have basically every conservative stereotype about liberal elites confirmed.”
GRUBERGATE’S INSIDER PROBLEM:
So let me finish by noting what I actually find disturbing about the whole Gruber episode. It is not that voters aren’t particularly well-informed; voters could not possibly be well-informed about all the issues that our government deals with. No one can be, which is why, when people ask me my opinions about foreign policy nowadays, I say, “I don’t know. Looks like a hard problem to me.”
Nor is it that politicians lie to voters. We reward them for lying, because we want to be told that we can have everything we want, plus a pony, and the only cost will be that some undeserving layabout will get their benefits cut off, or some very rich person we don’t like will have to sell the second yacht and pay higher taxes instead. We should not be surprised when they tell us exactly that. I’m not saying that I approve of this, mind you; I’m just saying that the way to stop it is not to tut-tut at the politicians, but for voters to stop demanding that they give us the pretty moon.
No, what really disturbs me is the sight of so many journalists acting like insiders. . . .
That politicians should try to exploit the accounting rules was inevitable; that is what people do with accounting rules. I’m not saying that’s what the rules are for, or that they do no good; I’m just saying that about eight seconds after your rules are made, some bright Johnny will start figuring out a way to game them.
What is not inevitable is that journalists should effectively sanction this by saying it’s no big deal. We don’t have to get elected, after all. And those politicians and policy makers aren’t our bosses; the reading public is. We shouldn’t act like we’re part of the insider clique that decides what other people need to know — no, worse, that decides what other people do know. If we knew this all along and voters didn’t, that doesn’t mean voters don’t have a right to be outraged. It means that we’ve lost track of whose side we’re on.
On the contrary, I think it means that most journalists have chosen a side, and are sticking with it come hell or high water.
A NEW AND COMPLETELY OBJECTIVE STUDY BY JONATHAN GRUBER SAYS SHE’S RIGHT: Elizabeth Warren Pitches “You Didn’t Build That 2.0.”
CHARLES BLAHOUS: Gruber and Barro Are Wrong to Assume the Public is Stupid. “Jonathan Gruber, Josh Barro and others are trying to persuade you that others’ failures of integrity, analysis, and policy design are your fault, simply for wanting a better healthcare market. Do not believe them. They are wrong on the ethics and wrong on the substance.”
JAKE TAPPER: Obama promised Obamacare wouldn’t do exactly what Gruber says it will do. And what it’s now clear it was intended to do all along.
At a town hall meeting where he campaigned for health care legislation in 2009, President Barack Obama pledged to voters that he did not want any tax on health insurance plans he perceived as wastefully generous to ever impact average Americans. But in recent comments by one of the men who helped draft the legislation, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, that is not only precisely what will happen — but that was the intention of the tax. White House officials had no comment, despite repeated requests by CNN.
It’s Potemkin Villages all the way down.
CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Gruber’s Obamacare payday highlights ulterior motives behind ‘do something’ cry.
For all the cursing of congressional gridlock, one of the greatest sources of Washington’s evils may be the bias in favor of doing something.
As voices chime in from the major media, from K Street, and from party leadership for the new Republican Congress to do something, it’s worth pausing, taking a breath, and looking at the recent problems caused by this urge — and the less-than-noble incentives that sometimes drive it.
The Beltway media’s predominant bias is that, for every issue, Washington politicians should do something. The simplest explanation for this bias: it gives reporters something to write about. Inaction is bad for readership.
Democratic politicians’ uncontrollable urge to do something is tied up with their view of government’s role as the champion of justice, the wise arranger of the economy and shaper of culture.
But there’s a deeper motivation to do something, and the Republican leadership shares it: When government takes a more active role in the economy, it creates private-sector employment opportunities for the policymakers — and for their advisors, like Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber.
Gruber, the MIT professor who won almost $400,000 in contracts from the Obama administration in a non-competitive contract process, came into the spotlight again this month when a new video surfaced in which he admitted that “lack of transparency” was crucial to passing Obamacare.
My colleague Byron York pointed to a more interesting Gruber detail: After the bill passed, Gruber won hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts with state governments setting up the exchanges under Obamacare.
Gruber, then, had to mislead Americans (or maybe just their senators) in order to pass Obamacare, and that opened a gusher of lucrative contracts for him. There is no doubt that Gruber sincerely thought the country needed health-care reform. But still, his financial interest in the bill ought to have raised some skepticism about the numbers he was peddling.
Nonsense. Only greedy conservatives advocate policies out of greed.
ED DRISCOLL: Earth In The Grubering. “Grubering also helps to define the relatively recent trend on the left not just to lie — that’s always been a component of the left — but to openly admit to lying as an unalloyed good to advance the Noble Cause.”
THE PALACE GUARD MEDIA ARE STILL AT WORK: Major media mostly giving Gruber ‘stupidity’ videos the silent treatment.
Half a dozen videos have exploded online showing Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber calling the American people stupid, but most major media outlets are downplaying the controversy or portraying it as little more than partisan Republican noise.
Only a handful of major news organizations have devoted significant coverage to Gruber’s “stupidity” remark and his other admissions, including his saying the law’s “lack of transparency” was key to its passage by Congress and that the measure was vaguely written so the Congressional Budget Office would not score it as a tax.
The Washington Post and CBS News have published several stories on the Gruber videos, but they have also downplayed his role in writing Obamacare and focused a great deal on the GOP’s response to the controversy in partisan terms.
As a result, the Post’s reporting has included these headlines: “Did Jonathan Gruber earn ‘almost $400,000′ from the Obama administration?” “Obamacare consultant under fire for ‘stupidity of the American voter’ comment,” “Despite what Jonathan Gruber said, Romneycare didn’t ‘secretly’ rip off Medicaid” and “GOP’s anti-Obamacare push gains new momentum in wake of Gruber video.”
Kristine Coratti Kelly, Vice President of Communications for the Washington Post, said in an email to the Washington Examiner that she disagrees with the notion that the news group has focused too much attention on the GOP’s reaction to Gruber’s comments.
“[W]e have done a great deal of reporting on the matter covering a wide variety of angles,” she said.
Meanwhile, CBS News has focused on the Republican reaction:
“[W]hen the bill was being written, the administration paid Gruber almost $400,000 for technical advice on drafting the law,” CBS reported Thursday. “Republicans, for their part, turned Gruber into an all-important player.”
Other CBS Gruber headlines have proclaimed “GOP gets more fuel in fight against Obamacare” and “Found footage fuels GOP’s fight against Obamacare.”
ABC News’ sparse Gruber coverage included this headline: “How Little-Known MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber Shook Up Washington This Week,” which ignored Gruber’s prominent role in crafting the law.
NBC News, for its part, has all but ignored the story, with only a discussion on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” penetrating the blockade.
Coverage has also been light among the nation’s most widely circulated newspapers.
They’ve got too much invested in Obama to report honestly on him.
AIRBRUSHING IN THE ERA OF OBAMA: University of Rhode Island Removes Gruber Video After It Goes Viral. First Penn, now this. You’d almost think that the higher ed establishment is in the tank for the Democrats or something.
SEAN DAVIS: It’s Time For Leftist Gruber Truthers To Give It A Rest. “Gruber was an Obamacare architect who helped draft the law. This is a fact regardless of whether it’s currently convenient for the Left.” Nonsense. Things that are inconvenient for the left aren’t “facts.” They’re things “Republicans claim.”
HEY, DON’T LAUGH — BY DARWINIAN STANDARDS, HE’S A BIG WINNER: Memphis Man Reportedly Fathered 26 Children But Reportedly Remains At Large With Child Support Violations In Multiple States.
THE HILL: Why is Obama ignoring the experts on illegal immigration? What, Jonathan Gruber wasn’t available to provide “objective analysis” in favor of his policy?
WAIT, A REPORTER ASKING A REAL QUESTION? YOU CAN SEE WHY THEY WOULDN’T KNOW HOW TO RESPOND. Reporter’s Gruber question prompts Obamacare flack’s eyeroll.
BUT OF COURSE: UH OH: Obama: ’Like Your Plan, Keep Your Plan.’ Gruber, 2009: ‘Five Million People Will Lose Their Plan.’ They knew it was a lie all along.
GRUBERGATE HITS COLORADO.
The Colorado Consumer Health Initiative paid Obamacare advocate and administration analyst Jonathan Gruber to produce an “independent” report in support of Colorado’s Health Insurance Exchange in 2011. This work came after the analyst’s failure to disclose his paid work to editors at newspapers which published his columns advocating for the law. The Initiative describes itself as “active supporters” of Obamacare and its implementation here in Colorado.
Gruber is currently under scrutiny for a series of video clips in which he 1) acknowledges having lied about the content Obamacare in order to help get it passed, 2) refers to the “stupidity” and “economic illiteracy” of the American public as assets in passing the law, and 3) admits that the plaintiffs’ argument in pending litigation is correct – enrollees on the federal exchange were specifically and intentionally excluded from receiving subsidies.
Forgotten, however, is that in January 2010, Gruber was penning oped pieces in the Washington Post and New York Times advocating for Obamacare, without having disclosed to his editors that he received nearly $400,000 from the administration to produce an “objective analysis,” that would be used in promoting the legislation.
The discovery of this conflict of interest by the liberal blog FireDogLake eventually caused the Times’s Public Editor, Clark Hoyt, to admit that the source’s interest in the news ought to have been disclosed.
It’s Potemkin villages all the way down.
THE PROBLEM WITH CAMPUS RAPE POLICY HAS REACHED THE PAGES OF THE NEW YORK TIMES, WITH JED RUBENFELD WRITING: “They are simultaneously failing to punish rapists adequately and branding students sexual assailants when no sexual assault occurred.”
Remember when Nancy Pelosi declared that Obamacare was a jobs bill? “It’s about jobs,” Pelosi said in 2011, during a news conference to mark the first anniversary of passage of the Affordable Care Act. “Does it create jobs? Health insurance reform creates 4 million jobs.”
Like many other promises about Obamacare, that hasn’t worked out. But there is no doubt that Obamacare created a lot of work for at least one American — MIT professor Jonathan Gruber. Gruber’s frank admissions that he and others deceived the public about Obamacare have drawn a lot of attention in recent days. But the money that Gruber made from Obamacare raises yet another issue about his involvement in the project. Throughout 2009 and 2010, he energetically advocated a bill from which he stood to profit. And when it became law, the money rolled in.
In 2009, as Obamacare was moving its way through Senate committees, Gruber, who had achieved a measure of fame as the architect of Romneycare in Massachusetts, was a paid consultant to the Department of Health and Human Services. In March of that year, he received a contract for $95,000 to work on the project, and in June he received a second contract to continue that work; it was worth $297,600. Together, they comprise the “nearly $400,000″ that critics have said Gruber received to work on Obamacare.
But after the bill became law, Gruber made a good deal more from it. The Affordable Care Act provided for states to set up exchanges to sell taxpayer-subsidized insurance coverage. For those states that chose to do so, exchanges would have to be built from the ground up. Studies would have to be done. Contracts would be let.
Just another argument for my revolving-door surtax!
IT’S NOW A VERB: The Fine Art Of Grubering.
Do you realize that every last one of the many disasters that has befallen this nation in the last half-century can be traced right back here to the banks of the Charles River?
C’mon down, Jonathan Gruber, economics professor at MIT. He’s the moonbat who, after engineering the ongoing fiasco that is Obamacare, then took a nationwide victory lap in which he repeatedly described the American people as “too stupid” to realize the Democrats were destroying their health care.
Maybe he’s right about our stupidity. After all, he cashed in $392,000 worth of federal no-bid contracts to wreck the best health care system in the world, plus another $1.6 million or so in various state wrecking-ball contracts.
This goober, I mean Gruber, now says that when he sneered about how stupid Americans are, he made a mistake. Oddly, he made the same “mistake” five times (and counting). When you say something publicly five times, it’s part of your stump speech.
The Unaffordable Care Act — from the same Beautiful People who gave you Vietnam, the War on Poverty, the Immigration Reform Act of 1965, global warming, SSI, busing, gay marriage and gender reassignment.
Asked about Prof. Goober, Nancy Pelosi said, “Who he?” Then some video was produced of Madame Botox citing his no-bid brilliance. A moonbat in-the-satchel reporter from Vox pooh-poohed the goober’s role as “mostly number-crunching.” Two years earlier this same bumkisser said he “pretty much wrote Obamacare.”
The first place this moonbat millionaire’s obnoxious comments turned up was on a website of the University of Pennsylvania (which made fake Indian Granny Warren an affirmative-action hire back in the 1990s).
As soon as Penn realized that its video might be causing consternation to Dear Leader, it excised the footage.
Nothing to see here, comrades. Move along.
I’m beginning to lose confidence in the idea that the Ivy League is a net plus for America.
THE HITS KEEP COMING: Gruber Video #6: ‘Mislabeling’ Cadillac Tax to Deceive the Voter.
HEH: “For five years, Republicans have been searching for the perfect messenger to speak out against Obamacare. They have finally found him. His name in Jonathan Gruber.”
IT’S A TARGET-RICH ENVIRONMENT: Grubered Again! Fifth Video of Liberal Mastermind Surfaces.
ED MORRISSEY: WaPo fact check: Yes, Gruber got $400,000 for ObamaCare work. “Or, if you prefer a more acerbic conclusion, taxpayers paid Jonathan Gruber in the mid-six-figures to lie to them, and then brag about it to all of his friends and fans later.”
And also, as Morrissey notes, to lie to the CBO.
HEY, THESE POSSIBILITIES AREN’T MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE, YOU KNOW: The Nancy Pelosi possibilities: lying, suffering from serious memory loss, or a facade whose power is exercised by unelected others.
Plus: “A sign of the times: Lefty website FireDogLake attacks: ‘Trying to pretend Gruber had no part in crafting Obamacare or that you have never heard of him despite considerable evidence to the contrary does sound like someone who is relying on a lack of transparency and the stupidity of the American voter – doesn’t it?’”
Related: Lefties Deceive As They Try to Distract from Gruber’s Praise of . . . Deceit. “This is who they are and this is what they do.”
IF NOT, THE JEWS ARE A BUNCH OF GRUBES: Are Democrats Losing the Jews? In this year’s midterms, Jews voted for Republican candidates more than they have in any election in the last decade.
WHEN TRUST IS ABUSED, IT DISAPPEARS: Roger Simon: “Climate Change” In The Land Of Gruber/Obama.
OH, YES: Republicans May Get Gruber Under Oath. “Just make sure to get him in Congress under oath ahead of the Supreme Court’s look at the exchange issue. He’ll surely provide more useful soundbites about how he and the Democrats lied to everyone, gamed the CBO, and knew all along that the subsidies/exchange issue was not a typo, but was put there for a reason. Maybe Gruber will insult Chief Justice John Roberts specifically while he’s under oath, too. The Chief is one of the ‘stupid’ ones, after all, according to Obamacare’s architect.”
Comments about voter stupidity made by an ally of the Obama administration are turning into conservatives’ newest weapon against the president’s healthcare law.
A series of unearthed videos of ObamaCare consultant Jonathan Gruber insulting U.S. voters while saying a “lack of transparency” helped Congress pass the healthcare law are attracting serious attention on the right just as Republicans prepare to take control of the Senate.
The newly discovered remarks — revealed so far in three videos circulated by conservative media — add fuel to the GOP’s claim that Democrats were deliberately obscuring pieces of the law to assure its passage.
Add a wave of interest from Republican lawmakers and increasing scrutiny from the mainstream media, and you have the latest flashpoint in the abiding partisan war over ObamaCare, just ahead of the start of the law’s second enrollment periodon Saturday.
Gruber, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who also helped craft that state’s healthcare reform law, said Tuesday that he regrets saying ObamaCare passed because of the “stupidity of the American voter.”
Two additional videos have been released since then. In those clips, Gruber said the law’s passage relied on “basic exploitation of [voters’] lack of economic understanding,” and that Americans are “too stupid to understand” the law’s so-called Cadillac tax.
Republicans have pounced on the remarks and are already weighing congressional hearings, which would create an enormous headache for Democrats.
It’s interesting that this stuff didn’t come out before the election.
AS PEOPLE ARE STARTING TO SAY ON TWITTER, “WHAT A GRUBE!” Wendy Davis was warned in January of an embarrassing defeat. “Consultants for former Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis warned the campaign in January that it was heading for a humiliating defeat on Election Day if it didn’t make changes quick, according to a memo obtained by the Texas Tribune. The campaign took that advice and made one change in particular — it fired those consultants.”
With that approach, you can see why she was an Obama favorite.
THREE STRIKES: Another video shows Obamacare architect Gruber talking about the ‘exploitation’ of American voters. I wonder how many Senate seats the GOP would have gotten if this had come out two weeks ago?
SIMPLE POLICIES WIN ELECTIONS:
Michael Kinsley once famously defined a gaffe as when a politician says what he or she truly believes (i.e., “a gaffe occurs not when a politician lies, but when he tells the truth”), a formulation so iconic that it is now known in the trade as a “Kinsley Gaffe.” A special subcategory of Kinsley Gaffe is becoming more common in these days of ubiquitous personal electronics: “accidentally telling the truth without knowing a camera or a tape recorder was running.” This is the category where we’d put Obama’s remarks about “bitter” working-class voters who “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them” and Mitt Romney’s complaint about “the 47 percent.”
Jonathan Gruber, one of the architects of Obamacare, has now made two such gaffes: once, when he insisted it was ridiculous to think that anyone could ever have thought that subsidies would only be available on state exchanges, only to be confronted with one audio and one video clip of himself saying that very thing in 2012. And again yesterday, when footage surfaced of Gruber making some awkward remarks about the design of Obamacare at a an event a year ago in Philadelphia. . . .
This is undoubtedly true, and critics of the law have been saying as much for years. Nor is it only true of Obamacare. As Steve Teles of Johns Hopkins has been arguing for a while, the American system increasingly favors byzantine laws that do things in complicated, opaque ways rather than better, simpler, more transparent ways. We prefer 1,000 tax credits to a few direct subsidies, mandates rather than government provision, hidden costs rather than direct ones. Teles calls this “kludgeocracy,” and not in an affectionate way.
A good argument can be made that Obama has gone further down this road than most, in part because he favored big technocratic bills that aimed to do a lot of everything that experts and the party base wanted done, rather than simpler and more targeted initiatives.
The fact that we have a lousy media makes it worse.
ANOTHER PICKUP: AP Calls Alaska Senate Race for Sullivan. Two thoughts: (1) AoSHQDD called this a week ago; and (2) If the Gruber video had come out before the election, would the GOP have picked up Virginia and New Hampshire? Quite possibly.
A FIELD MARSHAL IN THE ARMY OF DAVIDS: Meet the Mild-Mannered Investment Adviser Who’s Humiliating the Administration Over Obamacare.
Rich Weinstein is not a reporter. He does not have a blog. Until this week, the fortysomething’s five-year old Twitter account had a follower count in the low double digits. . . .
He’s also behind a series of scoops that could convince the Supreme Court to dismantle part of the Affordable Care Act. Weinstein has absorbed hours upon hours of interviews with Jonathan Gruber, an MIT professor who advised the Massachusetts legislature when it created “Romneycare” and the Congress when it created “Obamacare.” Conservatives had been looking for ways to demonstrate that the wording of the ACA denied insurance subsidies to consumers in states that did not create their own health exchanges. Weinstein found a clip of Gruber suggesting that states that did not create health insurance exchanges risked giving up the ACA’s subsidies; it went straight into the King v. Burwell brief, and into a case that’s currently headed to the Supreme Court.
A few days ago, Weinstein pulled a short clip from Gruber’s year-old appearance at a University of Pennsylvania health care conference. As a crowd murmured with laughter, Gruber explained that the process that created the ACA was, by necessity, obfuscated to pull one over on voters.
“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure the CBO did not score the mandate as taxes,” said Gruber. “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. Call it the stupidity of the America voter, or whatever.”
Weinstein’s scoop went around the world in a hurry.
As it should have. Nice work. Imagine if we had actual journalists doing this sort of thing.
KEITH HENNESSEY: ObamaCare Architect, MIT Economist Dr. Jonathan Gruber’s Honesty About Lying. Quoth Gruber: “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. It’s a second-best argument. Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”
See, they have to lie about their policies, because if they told the truth no one would support them.
SO NOW IT’S THE 13TH ANNIVERSARY OF 9/11. Back then, InstaPundit was shiny and new new. Now it’s not, and some people have been warning of “blogger burnout.” But I’m still here. On prior 9/11 anniversaries, I’ve given shooting lessons to a Marine, I’ve taken the day off from blogging, and I’ve even gone to a Tea Party with Andrew Breitbart.
This year, as in most past years, it’ll be blogging as usual. And here’s a link to my original 9/11 coverage — just scroll on up. At this late date, I don’t have much new to say on 9/11. But these predictions held up pretty well. Which is too bad.
The picture above is by my cousin-in-law Brad Rubenstein, taken from his apartment that day. You might also want to read this piece by James Lileks.
And here’s a passage from Lee Harris’s Civilization And Its Enemies.
Forgetfulness occurs when those who have been long inured to civilized order can no longer remember a time in which they had to wonder whether their crops would grow to maturity without being stolen or their children sold into slavery by a victorious foe.
They forget that in time of danger, in the face of the Enemy, they must trust and confide in each other, or perish.
They forget, in short, that there has ever been a category of human experience called the Enemy. And that, before 9/11, was what had happened to us. The very concept of the Enemy had been banished from our moral and political vocabulary. An enemy was just a friend we hadn’t done enough for — yet. Or perhaps there had been a misunderstanding, or an oversight on our part — something that we could correct. And this means that that our first task is that we must try to grasp what the concept of the Enemy really means.
The Enemy is someone who is willing to die in order to kill you. And while it is true that the Enemy always hates us for a reason — it is his reason, and not ours.
I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating today.
Now, of course, with the Syria debacle last year, leading into this year’s Iraq rerun, it seems like we’ve gone from tragedy to farce and back to tragedy. Are you feeling the hope and change? I’m not.
God bless America. We need it.
TYLER COWEN: The Real Import Of The Gruber Fracas. I like this from the comments: “All I can say is, if you’re going to pass a law with zero bipartisan support, you should be very careful in the drafting, since they aren’t likely to help you out if you muck it up. In this case, haste and arrogance is biting them in the ass.”
In other words, Congress did mean to use the subsidies to overcome state resistance and pressure them to set up their own exchanges. That is precisely what the plaintiffs in Halbig asserted. Of course, Obamacare’s supporters didn’t anticipate that the backlash against the law would be so intense that 34 states would actually decline the subsidies, almost as an act of civil disobedience.
On Friday morning, an embarrassed Gruber insisted to The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn, “I honestly don’t remember why I said that… I was speaking off-the-cuff. It was just a mistake.”
But a second speech, this time in the form of audio, surfaced this morning in which he makes the same claims before the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco at around the same time. In it, Gruber actively acknowledges that should if states revolt en masse, they’d bring down the law. But, he said, that he had enough faith in democracy to believe that even the states that didn’t like Obamacare would eventually succumb to the “ultimate threat” that “if your governor doesn’t set up an exchange, you are losing hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credits to be delivered to your citizens.”
Gruber would like everyone to ignore, not just the plain text of a law that he had a major hand in crafting, but also the plain meaning of his own words explaining why the law was written the way it was – not once, but at least twice.
Who is being “screwy” and “really criminal” here?
They took a crappy bill that they hadn’t read, they rammed it through on a party-line vote using a budget-reconciliation technicality, then they did an “I won” victory dance. Now it turns out the bill sucks and they’re blaming Republicans for not stopping them.
THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM? OR THREE STRIKES, YOU’RE OUT? John Sexton may have found another Gruber ‘speak-o.’
Meanwhile, The New York Times knows nothing — nothing!
WHO ARE YOU GOING TO BELIEVE — ME, OR YOUR LYING EARS? Gruber: My 2012 remarks were “a speak-o — you know, like a typo.”
This answer is not a “speak-o” any more than the statutory language on subsidies and exchanges was a “typo.” Gruber explained the coercive policy correctly and in detail, along with the stakes involved in seeing the coercion succeed. It’s not a case of just using the wrong terminology, like “market” instead of “exchange.” Gruber clearly understood the statute at this time — in January 2012 — to provide the arm-twisting needed to get states to launch their own exchanges by stiffing consumers in states without them, which would then create more pressure on those states to get them the federal subsidies that they were funding but not receiving.
That is exactly what the plaintiffs argued in Halbig, and what the court ruled to be the intent of Congress as well as the statutory reality of the ACA. Just because that arm-twisting policy failed in its goals doesn’t mean it wasn’t deliberate, rational, and very much a part of the ObamaCare strategy then, and it doesn’t make it a “typo” now — or a “speak-o” either.
See, the problem with Ezra, Gruber, and these other lefty “wonks” is that a real wonk is supposed to (1) understand the policy better than anyone else; and (2) care about getting the policy right more than about partisan political posturing. Double fail, here. But then, Ezra’s having a bad year.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Still more on Gruber. “I’ll just add that for all the left-wing pundits who called the plaintiff’s arguments in Halbig vs. Burwell ‘ridiculous’ and such, I’ll gladly barbecue some crow for you.”
Paul Waldman, Greg Sargent’s deputy, sees broader ideological implications. “If Democrats are going to argue that government can be a force for good, their most basic responsibility is to make government work,” he writes. (An odd statement. It seems to us making government work is the “most basic responsibility” of anyone who chooses a career in the public sector, regardless of ideology.)
“As troubling as some of these allegations are, this controversy presents an opportunity for the administration,” Waldman continues. “This isn’t some kind of phony scandal like Benghazi: it’s a real issue with real consequences.” Christopher Stevens could not be reached for comment.
If, by the end of Obama’s term in 2017, “officials can say that every veteran who needs care is getting it without having to wait an unreasonably long time,” that “wouldn’t be just a victory for this administration” but also “a victory for the liberal vision of effective government.”
To which we’d add that if officials can truthfully say it, it’ll be a victory for the veterans too. . . .
The “secret” of the VA’s “success,” Krugman argued, “is the fact that it’s a universal, integrated system.” That saves on administrative costs and allows for efficient record-keeping. Krugman acknowledged that the VA had a history of mismanagement and mediocre care, until “reforms beginning in the mid-1990′s transformed the system.” But wait. Hasn’t it been a universal, integrated system all along? Maybe the secret is something else. At any rate, the Phoenix revelations suggest it’s the system’s failures that are being kept secret.
Well, as a former Enron adviser, Krugman has experience with spectacular failures that are preceded by hype aimed at the rubes.
Plus: “If Krugman is to be believed–a big ‘if,’ to be sure–the Bush administration did a far better job running the VA than the Obama administration is doing now.”
HE PROCLAIMED HIS INNOCENCE. AND PLAYED THE RACE CARD: NYC Councilman Ruben Wills arrested.
“I am not resigning on charges. This is America, people. We are presumed innocent before we are proven guilty,” he said. “But because I know what I am, where I come from and the color I am, it doesn’t really work like that with you guys. But I am presumed innocent and that’s what we are going with.”
Funny. He considers our justice system guilty (of racism) with no presumption of innocence.
DIVORCE, BELTWAY STYLE: The Democratic breakup that exposes Washington’s rotten core.
The documents, which you can read below, did not become available to the rest of us until yesterday. They tell stories not only of a May-December romance gone sour, but of how obscene wealth can be amassed through rent-seeking and influence-peddling in Washington D.C., and of the hoary means by which the princelings of the capital and their consorts maintain and grow that wealth. They tell stories not only of an ugly divorce, but of the power of lobbying, of how one family maneuvered to the center of the nation’s dominant political party, of the transactional relationships, gargantuan self-regard, and empty posturing that insulates, asbestos-like, the D.C. bubble.
That the broken couple now uses the tools of their trade—the phone-call to a friend, the selective leaking of documents, the hiring of attorneys, the launch of a public-relations campaign—against one another is more than ironic. It is fitting. Tony and Heather Podesta reached the pinnacle of wealth and influence in Barack Obama’s Washington. Now they, like he, are in eclipse. . . .
Corporations give to Democratic politicians, avoiding the scrutiny of liberal attack dogs in the media and nonprofit sectors, and enjoying the ego boost that comes with being on the “right side of history.” Then those corporations hire the Podestas to get them out of the Rube Goldberg traps the Democrats have enacted into law. John’s innovation was to establish a corporate-funded think tank where the burdensome policies would be concocted, and whose staff would go on to man the regulatory agencies that put their wool-headed ideas into practice. And to whom do the corporations turn when they find themselves on the receiving end of all this uplift, all this do-goodery, all this progress, hope, and change? Why, to the man in the red Prada loafers, and to his flamboyantly patterned wife.
Read the whole thing.
RUBE-IN-CHIEF SELF-IDENTIFIES: Full Circle: Obama Defends Iraq War.
MORE RUBES SELF-IDENTIFY: Unions Suffer For ObamaCare:
The first problem is that Obamacare regulations are already pushing up the cost of multiemployer insurance plans. Moreover, many of the regulations don’t really fit the plans — for example, many multiemployer plans do not distinguish between single and family policies, offering everyone the same insurance at the same cost.
The second problem is that the 40 percent excise tax on especially expensive plans — the so-called Cadillac tax — is going to hit union plans especially hard. Unlike most people negotiating compensation, union negotiators make an explicit trade-off between wages and other benefits, and the benefit that they seem most attached to is generous health plans. Union plans are made more expensive still because union membership is heavily skewed toward older workers. They are thus very likely to get hit by the Cadillac tax, which takes effect in 2018.
And the third problem is that Obamacare undercuts one of the key benefits of being in a union. Take a low-wage service worker who is currently insured through her union’s multiemployer plan. If she went to work for a nonunion shop, she could get a substantial wage hike, use part of it to buy a heavily subsidized exchange policy, and still be better off. As I heard one expert say, Obamacare turns health insurance from an organizing tool to a disorganizing tool.
Oft evil will shall evil mar.
Reed disdains what he calls “the cult of the most oppressed,” the idea “that there’s something about the purity of these oppressed people that has the power to condense the mass uprising. I’ve often compared it to the cargo cults. . . . As my dad used to say, ‘If oppression conferred heightened political consciousness there would be a People’s Republic of Mississippi.’ ” (This all seems a bit out of place in Salon, whose usual stock in trade is exotic identity-based grievances. Last week the site ran an article by Randa Jarrar, an Arab-American novelist, titled “Why I Can’t Stand White Belly Dancers.”)
Conservatives share Reed’s and Frank’s aversion to identity politics, though of course for different reasons. They (we) see it as anathema to the classical liberal ideas of individual freedom and equality of opportunity. Reed pointedly rejects what he calls “a neoliberal understanding of an equality of opportunity.”
What Reed wishes for instead, in his Harper’s article, is a radical “redistributive vision,” which “requires grounding in a vibrant labor movement.” There’s more than a bit of nostalgia here: He opens by observing that the left “crested in influence between 1935 and 1945, when it anchored a coalition centered in the labor movement,” and that “at the federal level its high point may have come in 1944, when FDR propounded what he called ‘a second Bill of Rights,’ ” including “the right to a ‘useful and remunerative job,’ ‘adequate medical care,’ and ‘adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment.’ “
What we actually have is a coalition of Wall Street — they don’t call him President Goldman Sachs for nothing — and gentry liberals, with enough minorities included as electoral fodder to provide key votes. But look who’s getting richer these days. It’s the .1 percent. A few rubes are just starting to catch on.
MORE RUBES SELF-IDENTIFY: Liberal labor union makes Republican arguments against Obamacare. “A new labor union research report offers a scathing indictment of how Obamacare affects middle-class workers. The report features a series of arguments that conservatives have long made about the law, right down to mentioning the language of ‘unintended consequences.’”