MIT professor Jonathan Gruber was in the hot seat at Tuesday’s House Oversight Committee hearing, answering questions regarding his offensive comments about the stupidity of the American people and his assertions that the Affordable Care Act was passed based on a mischaracterization of the facts.
At the hearing Gruber was asked by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) about a paper he co-authored in 1998, “Abortion Legalization and Child Living Circumstances: Who is the ‘Marginalized Child’,” in which Gruber suggested that children who die as a result of abortion are better off because the majority of them would have ended up in single-parent households and living in poverty.
“So, this gets me to another instance where you committed candor,” Massie said in the hearing. “You conclude legal abortion — and birth outcomes among a birth cohort … and on page 26, you state that your research indicates that the legalization of abortion saved the government $14 billion in welfare payments through 1994,” he continued. “Is providing more access to abortion, is that a worthy social outcome to achieve cost savings for the government?”
“That is not what my paper was about,” Gruber answered. “It wasn’t a philosophical paper. It was about empirical facts.”
Massie quoted the paper: “‘By 1993 all cohorts under the age 19 were born under legalized abortion and we estimate steady state savings of $1.6 billion per year from positive selection.'”
“What did you mean by positive selection?” Massie asked. “Because in this paper you’re talking about providing more access to abortions to a socioeconomic strata of our constituents.”
Gruber answered, “In that paper we were studying the characteristics of children who were born before and after abortion was legalized. You can infer the characteristics — ”
Gruber wrote in the 1998 paper that “the government saved $480 million in 1980 because of abortion legalization. Had all children in 1980 been born at a time when abortion was legal, our estimates imply that positive selection would have reduced the welfare caseload in 1980 by 173,500 families for a total savings of $1.1 billion in 1980.”
Massie said he finds it chilling that Gruber is implying that by reducing the number of poor children born, the quality of life can be improved for other Americans. He said his constituents fear that this same philosophy will be used on the Affordable Care Act’s Independent Payment Advisory Board.
“My constituents fear that this is, in fact, a method by which Obamacare will ration health care for elderly and therefore implement cost savings for Medicare. My question to you is, does your philosophy on abortion, that it can save money and improve outcomes, have any implications in the realm of end of life care?”
“So, Dr. Gruber,” Massie asked, “if there are fewer elderly people, particularly poor elderly people, wouldn’t that save a ton of money, too, as an economist? Wouldn’t you think that would save money, too? Do you understand the dangerous implications of going down this path?”
“I have no philosophy of abortion,” Gruber answered. “I have no philosophy of end of life care. My job as an economist is to deliver the empirical facts so that you all can make the necessary decision.”