The Worst of Jonathan Gruber

November 12, 2014

Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber has been either too candid or just dishonest in his fight to pass and support the president's health care overhaul.

In a video from October 2013 that came to light Friday, Gruber said the "lack of transparency" about the Affordable Care Act and the "stupidity of the American voter" were critical to it getting passed.

"This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes," he said. "If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it's written to do that. In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which said healthy people are going to pay in, it made explicit that healthy pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed. Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. Basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever. But basically, that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass."

Such deceit was necessary because, as Gruber said, "I'd rather have this law than not."

This is the second time this year that old footage of Gruber being a little too honest about Obamacare resurfaced. In July, a January 2012 tape of Gruber arose where he said subsidies for health insurance only went to citizens of states that set up health exchanges. This interpretation of the law, as Reason pointed out, came before the filing of the lawsuit Halbig v. Surwell that made the same assertion.

"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," he said.

Reason explained:

And what he says is exactly what challengers to the administration’s implementation of the law have been arguing—that if a state chooses not to establish its own exchange, then residents of those states will not be able to access Obamacare's health insurance tax credits. He says this in response to a question asking whether the federal government will step in if a state chooses not to build its own exchange. Gruber describes the possibility that states won’t enact their own exchanges as one of the potential "threats" to the law. He says this with confidence and certainty, and at no other point in the presentation does he contradict the statement in question. 

Gruber dismissed the controversy as arising from a "typo" in the law and his own statement as a "speako."

Gruber was already on record as being dismissive of lies about the law to help it pass. In an interview last November on MSNBC, after a clip played of President Obama's infamous proclamation that "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan," Gruber said that while Obama's promise was not "technically true" for every American, "I don't think it matters."

Gruber has been prone to making hyperbolic remarks about the law as well, declaring on MSNBC that states failing to expand Medicaid are "killing about 6,000 people a year" and opponents of the law are depicting it as "the devil's work."