Today, Obamacare architect Jon Gruber claimed to be at a loss as to why he said in 2012 that the Obamacare subsidies were directly tied to the state exchanges. It’s quite a mystery, a typo, Gruber claims about his own statements.
It’s “unambigious that it’s a typo,” Gruber tells Chris Matthews.
It can’t be a typo, though, because Gruber said on video that the subsidies are tied to the exchanges, which is at the heart of the Halbig case against Obamacare. Call it a “speak-o,” then as is moving on Twitter.
If it’s a speak-o, it’s a recurring one. John Sexton has found more audio of Gruber saying that the Obamacare exchanges are tied to the state exchanges — that the exchanges are integral to Obamacare itself.
In addition, it’s worth pointing out that on this occasion, unlike the one revealed last night, Gruber’s statement was not in response to a question. During both speeches, Gruber listed three possible threats to the implementation of Obamacare. In both cases the third “threat” was that states would not set up exchanges. In the January 10th speech (above) he simply went into more detail about the nature of that threat. In the January 18th speech that detail wasn’t mentioned until the Q&A.
The exchanges and subsidies are at the heart of the Halbig case:
In brief, these cases claim the IRS has exceeded its statutory authority in authorizing tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies on federal exchanges because the PPACA only authorizes tax credits for the purchase of insurance on an exchange “established by the State under Section 1311.” Section 1311 instructs states to create exchanges. Federal exchanges are established under Section 1321 of the Act.
At one level these cases present a straightforward statutory interpretation question. The text is clear and does not contradict any other provisions in the Act. That would seem to settle the matter. On the other hand, the PPACA is a complicated and poorly drafted statute and, because over 30 states refused to set up their own exchanges, invalidation of the IRS rule could have a significant effect on its implementation. So the federal government has pushed back hard and has sought to argue that what the statute says cannot be what it means.
The administration is arguing that the plain text of the law does not mean what it says. Gruber has tried to make that case too, but his own words keep coming back to argue against him.
Update: Gruber lied in court.