Administration officials continued to distance themselves from MIT professor Jonathan Gruber and controversial comments he made suggesting the Affordable Care Act was passed, in part, by an intentional lack of transparency.
"I have to start with how fundamentally I disagree with his comments about the bill and about the American people. Since I’ve been at the department, one of the things that I’ve focused on is transparency, making sure all of our numbers come out whether they’re good or bad. And the other thing is that the law is based on the issues of transparency and belief in the American people and choices in the market place," said Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell.
Gruber’s statements came to light earlier this week, and Republicans pointed to them as evidence that "the Obama administration deliberately misled Americans" in order to pass the legislation.
Commentators roundly criticized Gruber’s statements on Sunday, and Sen. James Lankford (R., Okla.) pointed to them as evidence of an arrogance that exists in government at large.
"I think Gruber’s comments show what is consistent in Washington, D.C. It’s this arrogance of centralized government. This administration really believes they’re smarter than everyone else, and they just need to create the policy and impose the policy and exist only to carry out their wishes from the central government. I think that’s absolutely backwards," said Lankford on Fox News Sunday.
The Gruber videos, political commentators noted, play into concerns Republicans held when the law was being passed.
"This also kills any chance there would be of Republicans wanting to kind of mend, not end Obamacare," Jon Karl told ABC’s This Week.
"This plays right into the narrative of how this law was passed. Jonathan Gruber was not the legislative tactician. He was not on the White House Staff, but he did have a $400,000 contracts. By the way, Obamacare has been very profitable for Jonathan Gruber … This to Republicans is about as big a deal as you can get."
Conservatives such as George Will see it as just that; an admittance of what they say was a "consciously deceptive" effort to force the legislation on the American people.
"It tells us that they were consciously deceptive. We knew that at the time. It tells us that they did lots of unseemly things to get it passed, the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase, and all the other log rolling that went on."