It might seem an easy assumption that Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) would want to squash a subpoena served to former Jonathan Gruber, the MIT professor whose mouth ranneth over enough to give the GOP new ammunition to fire against Obamacare.
“You have given them a PR gift with a ribbon tied on top,” Cummings said.
But rather than complaining about congressional overreach, Cummings, the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the subpoena did not go far enough.
The outgoing chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), issued the subpoena Dec. 12 after Gruber refused to answer questions about how much he was paid for working on the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.
Gruber testified before the committee Dec. 9 about his role in developing the president’s healthcare law.
Gruber was also called to task for comments he made a few years ago about how the White House got the Affordable Care Act through Congress, and the mental acumen of the average American taxpayer.
Gruber and his comments were described as “stupid” by Republicans and Democrats.
As tough as that got, Gruber seemed resigned to take his punishment and fall on his sword. What he was not expecting was to be called to the woodshed for not submitting all of his pay stubs to the committee for work done on behalf of, and paid for, by the White House.
“As one of the architects of Obamacare, Jonathan Gruber is in a unique position to shed light on the ‘lack of transparency’ surrounding the passage of the president’s healthcare law, however he has so far been unwilling to fully comply with the Oversight Committee’s repeated requests,” Issa said in a statement.
Gruber repeatedly refused to answer questions during the Oversight Committee hearing about how much he was paid by the White House.
Issa warned him that if he didn’t answer he would be subpoenaed.
“We will seek to bring you back to see full disclosure,” Issa said. “I would like to not have to recess and come back again. Please do not make this drag out longer.”
Issa also reminded Gruber that he had taken an oath to “tell the truth, the whole truth, not just the truth that your attorney says is going to be discussed.”
“Dr. Gruber repeatedly refused to answer several key questions, including the amount of taxpayer funds he received for his work on Obamacare. The American people deserve not just an apology, but a full accounting, which Dr. Gruber must provide,” Issa added in the statement concerning the issuance of the subpoena.
Cummings is not unhappy with Issa for issuing the subpoena against Gruber. Rather, he is displeased with Issa failing to ask for enough information.
Cummings is not happy with Issa’s subpoena because he says it stops the committee from seeing documents that were written while Gruber was a consultant on the creation of Gov. Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts healthcare program, which served as the foundation of Obamacare.
“Rep. Issa has now issued his 110th unilateral subpoena with no committee debate or vote since he became chairman four years ago,” Cummings said in a statement.
“Walling off documents relating to the 2012 Republican nominee for president exposes this subpoena for exactly what it is — the latest attempt in the one-sided Republican political campaign to attack the Affordable Care Act.”
Cummings’ office declined to answer PJ Media questions about what the Democrats’ strategy would be when Gruber continues his testimony, or if Cummings would again be calling Gruber stupid as loudly as the Republicans did.
While the Democrats’ strategy might be a secret, the GOP game plan certainly is not.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said on Fox that he expects the Oversight Committee to focus on allegations of fraud and/or perjury.
“If you recall from the hearing, [Gruber] really did not want to give us what he considered to be his work product because he wants to minimize his role in the drafting of the ACA now,” said Gowdy.
“But my guess is if you go back to the videos, he was very proud of being the architect. And he may have testified to some things differently before us that would be contained in some of those documents. So we are going to go back and get those documents,” Gowdy added.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) will replace Issa as the chairman of the Oversight Committee in 2015.
His office also failed to answer a PJ Media request for an interview. He has not said what his strategy might be when Congress returns to work in January.
However, if Chaffetz’s performance during the first Gruber hearing is any indication, he won’t go easy on Gruber.
Chaffetz took part in the GOP shellacking of Gruber during his December appearance, bringing up Gruber’s work with the Congressional Budget Office at the same time he was working to promote Obamacare.
And it was Chaffetz who led the chorus demanding Gruber show them the money.
“What are you hiding?” Chaffetz asked. “Why won’t you give that to us?”
Chaffetz will get a chance to ask again in 2015.