Government & Politics

ObamaCare's Foundation of Lies

Nov. 14, 2014

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with continuing revelations.

MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, one of the original architects of ObamaCare – which passed without a single Republican vote – is at the center of a political storm Democrats can ill afford these days. Earlier this week, a video surfaced of a panel at the University of Pennsylvania last year in which Gruber discussed the “Affordable” Care Act. In the video, he argued the law had to be written in a way that obscured what it was actually about because there was no other way it could have passed. No kidding.

“Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage,” Gruber told the audience. “And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to get the thing to pass.”

There can be no better example of the hubris, arrogance and utter lack of respect for the democratic process than the words of this elitist.

Enraged yet? Wait, there’s more.

In that same clip, Gruber said, “This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure [the Congressional Budget Office] did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies.” Gruber also responded to a charge made earlier in the panel that the law had a “dumb way” of subsidizing high-risk insurance customers. Gruber tacitly granted as much, but said, “If you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed.”

Caught in the act, Gruber went on MSNBC this week to explain himself. “I was speaking off the cuff,” he said. “And I basically spoke inappropriately, and, uh, I regret having made those comments.” This non-apology apology was nothing more than Gruber saying he’s sorry the comments were made public.

Shortly after his MSNBC appearance, more clips surfaced, including one from another 2013 forum where he explained how the Democrats collectively worked to fool voters and get the bill passed: “That passed because the American voters are too stupid to understand the difference.”

Gruber was recorded thanking a Massachusetts “hero” for inventing the so-called “Cadillac tax” on premium health plans: “John Kerry said, ‘No, no. We’re not going to tax your health insurance. We’re going to tax those evil insurance companies. We’re going to impose a tax that if they sell insurance that’s too expensive, we’re going to tax them.’ And, conveniently, the tax rate will happen to be the marginal tax rate under the income tax code. So, basically, it’s the same thing: We just tax the insurance companies, they pass on higher prices that offsets the tax break we get, it ends up being the same thing. It’s a very clever, you know, basically exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter.”

Gruber told of how Barack Obama met with him for advice on the Cadillac tax in particular: “The problem is it’s a political nightmare, and people say, ‘No, you can’t tax my benefits.’ … So what we did a lot in that room was think a lot about, well, how could we make this work? … And [Obama] is really a realistic guy. He was like, ‘Look, I can’t just do this.’ He said, ‘It’s just not going to happen politically. The bill will not pass. How do we manage to get there through phase-ins and other things?’ And we talked about it. He was just very interested in that topic.”

In remarks made in 2011, Gruber explained that while tax breaks for employer-based health insurance were bad policy, “it turns out politically it’s really hard to get rid of.” Therefore, ObamaCare dealt with that by implementing a tax but “mislabeling it, calling it a tax on insurance plans rather than a tax on people when we all know it’s a tax on people who hold those insurance plans.” Then they delayed it until 2018 to hide it further. Why? Because, he said, “This was the only political way we were ever going to take on what is one of the worst public policies in America, and every economist should celebrate this.” Furthermore, “It’s on the books now,” which means, “if they want to get rid of it they’re going to have to fill a trillion dollar hole in the deficit.” Cue maniacal laughter.

Behold, the complete compilation:

The White House is now doing damage control. “I just heard about this,” Obama said, adding, “The fact that an adviser who was never on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters is not a reflection on the actual process that was run.” Technically, no, Gruber was never on staff, but the government did pay him nearly $400,000 for his services. Furthermore, in 2006, Obama admitted Gruber was among those from whom “I have stolen ideas from liberally.” And according to The New York Times in 2012, “It is [Gruber’s] research that convinced the Obama administration that health care reform could not work without requiring everyone to buy insurance.”

White House spokeswoman Jessica Santillo likewise said, “The Affordable Care Act was publicly debated over the course of 14 months, with dozens of congressional hearings and countless town halls, speeches and debates. … Not only do we disagree with [Gruber’s] comments, they’re simply not true.” Another anonymous White House official said, “[Gruber] did not work in the White House.” Then why was he paid so handsomely?

Press Secretary Josh Earnest protested, “The fact of the matter is the process associated with writing and passing and implementing the Affordable Care Act has been extraordinarily transparent.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi went even further, telling reporters Thursday, “I don’t know who he is. He didn’t help write our bill.”

Maybe if she had read the bill, she would have found out what’s in it – or at least who wrote it.

Or maybe it would have helped had the Leftmedia not remained so remarkably silent about this whole episode as they circled the wagons for this administration.

In truth, Pelosi too praised Gruber’s work in 2009 before it became inconvenient to know him. And her website cited him by name in at least seven places.

The Obama administration relied heavily, for example, on Gruber’s data to predict the effect ObamaCare would have on health care costs. In fact, administration officials praised the computer model he devised. His mouth got him into trouble in 2009 when, in the heat of congressional debate, he admitted the legislation “really doesn’t bend the cost curve.” This was a point many Republicans, notably Rep. Paul Ryan, made during the debate over the bill.

Gruber himself also tried to qualify his remarks and tried to redirect attention back to Republicans. During his MSNBC appearance, Gruber said, “I think that this comes to the master strategy of the Republican Party, which is to confuse people enough about the law so that they don’t understand that the subsidies they’re getting is [sic] because of the law.”

Wait, who’s trying to confuse people? Take a quick look at some of Barack Obama’s gems regarding his precious health care law over the last six years:

“If you like your current insurance, you keep your current insurance. Period. End of story.”

“We can cut the average family’s premium by about $2,500 per year.”

“Under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions.”

“I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits – either now or in the future.”

And then there’s this one: “This is the most transparent administration in history.”

Not a single one of these statements contained a shred of truth. Now, thanks to Gruber, it’s even more clear these stump comments were never anything more than utter lies.

No matter what Gruber or Obama or Pelosi say now, the fact is the American people were conned and lied to. Obama and his people knew that was the only way ObamaCare would happen.

The future of ObamaCare is in serious doubt, not just legally but politically.

Take for example Ron Fournier, senior political columnist for National Journal and longtime champion of ObamaCare. “Gruber’s remarks may not be dispositive, but they certainly are evidence,” Fournier wrote this week. “And so even I have to admit, as a supporter, that Obamacare was built and sold on a foundation of lies.”

Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina may have said it best when asked about the motivations of Gruber and the Obama bureaucrats who supposedly knew better than the American people: “I would say this to the professor: Put down the cognac and the lost writings of J.D. Salinger, if you want to see how stupid our fellow citizens are, take a look at last Tuesday night because they rejected you, this bill and this administration.”

And let’s not forget that period in time following Obama’s election in 2008. No one was clamoring for health care reform. What the citizenry really wanted was a solution to the economic crisis. Yet the Obama administration saw an opportunity to exploit a crisis to its own advantage – to increase access to abortion, give the IRS unprecedented power to meddle in peoples' lives and increase regulatory reach over the health care sector.

ObamaCare was a vehicle not to solve the nation’s health care issues but to expand federal control over the populace. The final product was never, and still is not, popular with the public. It was one of the prime movers of the 2014 midterm elections. And if it was such a good bill, why was it necessary to lie to the American people to get it passed? The answer is now obvious.

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