Government & Politics

The Manipulative Core of ObamaCare

An ObamaCare architect's previous truth-telling proves the law's subsidy structure was intentional.

Jul. 28, 2014

While Jonathan Gruber isn’t exactly a household name, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) economics professor was one of the many architects of ObamaCare, and he’s making waves again. He’s had a few things to say about the subsidies given on state versus federal exchanges over the years, and it’s rather enlightening to see what Democrats’ true vision was when crafting the abomination of a law: Lie, coerce and manipulate.

When it comes to insurance subsides for shoppers, Democrats are now in the position of arguing the law doesn’t mean what it says – that it isn’t, after all, the “law of the land.” Recall last week’s appeals courts rulings on the subject. The DC Circuit Court ruled that subsidies given via the federal exchange were illegal because the law permits them only through the state exchanges. Since 34 states elected not to set up exchanges, that substantially undermines the outworking of the law.

The Fourth Circuit Court, on the other hand, said the intent of the law’s authors must have been to grant subsidies to everyone. Therefore, those subsidies stand, regardless of what the law actually says.

Cue Gruber, who argued the law means what it says. In 2012, he said, “What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits – but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens, ‘You’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country.’” Translation: Subsidies are available only on state exchanges, not the federal one. And he said it before the Halbig suit (the one heard by the DC Circuit) was even filed.

Gruber now describes his 2012 comments as “a speak-o – you know, like a typo.” He explained, “Congress made a mistake drafting the law and I made a mistake talking about it.” We’ll agree Congress made a mistake drafting the law – it never should have been drafted. But Gruber is at best misrepresenting now what he said then. There are other instances when Gruber distinguished between state and federal exchanges. Did he commit the same “speak-o” more than once?

The answer is resoundingly no. In fact, in prepared remarks on at least two other occasions, he pointed to states not setting up exchanges as one of the primary threats to the law, saying that decision would cost citizens of those states “hundreds and millions and billions of dollars.”

Now Gruber is doubling down, adding, “It is unambiguous this is a typo. Literally every single person involved in the crafting of this law has said that it’s a typo, that they had no intention of excluding the federal states.” He didn’t think so when he was explaining how important the distinction was back in 2012. His tune only changed when his side lost a court case.

Let’s assume for a moment that it was a typo in the law. Wouldn’t that prove the danger of passing multiple-thousand page bills without reading them?

But what Gruber now calls a “typo” was actually a Democrat strategy. As The Wall Street Journal explains in an editorial, “Liberals feared some states wouldn’t set up exchanges, so they deliberately wrote incentives into the law so the states would do so. This was the conventional liberal wisdom until this year when it suddenly became legally and politically inconvenient for the Administration to admit it.”

Aside from what we see as ObamaCare’s primary fault – that it is patently unconstitutional – this episode highlights another serious flaw: Every one of ObamaCare’s goals is achieved through coercion and manipulation. That the law was falsely sold as one “providing health insurance for millions” is one BIG Lie.

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