Who does the Obama administration think it is fooling?
A citizen journalist uncovered Jonathan Gruber claiming that Obamacare passed because of “the stupidity of the American voter,” who did not see through the sleight of hand the administration employed to hide unpalatable elements. The bill, he explained, “was written in a tortured way to make sure the CBO did not score the mandate as taxes.” Soon after, we learned that Gruber had said the exact same thing many times at different venues. He did not — as he tried to claim — simply misspeak on one occasion.
President Obama responded to the public furor, saying at his press conference in Australia:
The fact that some advisor who never worked on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters is no reflection on the actual process that was run.
“Some advisor.” The president implied that Gruber was one of many outside consultants, and not the “architect of Obamacare,” as many news stories and commentators were describing him.
Obama’s argument fell apart almost immediately. Karen Tumulty wrote in Sunday’s Washington Post:
[Gruber] was no ordinary advisor — as evidenced by the fact that he was paid nearly $400,00 by the administration for his work. … His advice was important at critical moments when the bill’s survival was in jeopardy.
Tumulty further revealed that Obama himself summoned Gruber to the White House on July 20, 2009, along with Alice Rivlin and David Cutler, to find a way to lower costs. He did this after the CBO concluded that the act would not lower health care costs in the long run. Gruber’s role, Tumulty wrote, “was to explain the effect that a policy choice would have and to add credibility to the entire endeavor.”
Hence that $400,000 payment, a tidy sum for Gruber, who already had made a small fortune providing similar advice to many states.
Then Nancy Pelosi, when asked what she thought of Gruber’s statements, replied:
I don’t know who he is. He didn’t help write our bill.
In saying that, Pelosi confirmed that her view of the American voter is the same as that of Professor Gruber. Within minutes the press found a 2009 C-SPAN video of Pelosi in which she talked about Gruber, and the following, which appeared on her own “Newsroom” blog on Dec. 1, 2009:
FACT: An analysis of the House bill by noted MIT health care economist Jonathan Gruber concludes that the bill would result in lower premiums than under current law for the millions of Americans using the newly-established Health Insurance Exchange – including those who are not receiving affordability credits to help them purchase coverage. (The Health Insurance Exchange is for those without access to affordable employer-sponsored coverage.) As Gruber states: “the premiums that individuals will face in the new exchanges established by this legislation are … considerably lower than what they would face in the non-group insurance market [under current law], due to the market reforms put in place by the House plan, the mandate on individuals to participate regardless of health, and the market economies of new exchanges.”
She then linked to Prof. Gruber’s analysis.
Then we heard the words of then-Senator John Kerry, who at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on October 1, 2009, said:
According to Gruber, who has been our guide on a lot of this, it’s somewhere in the vicinity of an $8 billion cost.