In the wake of unearthed controversial remarks by Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber, including his mocking the "stupidity of the American voter" in helping the law get passed, Democrats are trying to distance themselves from Gruber, saying he's not a central authority figure on the legislation.
It's not so long ago, though, that many prominent liberals cited Gruber as a "respected economist" whose studies and conclusions were central to proving Obamacare would be successful. The Obama administration paid him nearly $400,000 for technical advice on drafting it, according to CBS.
Sen. Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said in 2009 Gruber's defense of the Affordable Care Act was high praise, indeed, according to PJ Media.
"CBO’s experts aren’t the first to recognize these benefits," Reid said. "Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Jonathan Gruber, who is one of the most respected economists in the world, said in today’s Washington Post, ‘Here’s a bill that reduces the deficit, covers 30 million people and has the promise of lowering premiums in the long run.’ Pretty good statement."
Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) also took care to name Gruber on the floor of the U.S. Senate in 2009.
"In addition to the Congressional Budget Office, I might say that MIT’s John Gruber has also done a study on our premiums and what does he conclude—he concludes, using Congressional Budget Office data, that the Senate bill could mean that people purchasing individual insurance would save every year $200 for single coverage and $500 for family coverage in 2009."
Then-Speaker of the House and current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) praised Gruber in 2009 as well before saying this week that she didn't know him and that he didn't write the bill.
"I don't know if you have seen Jonathan Gruber of MIT's analysis of what the comparison is to the status quo versus what will happen in our bill for those who seek insurance within the exchange," she said in 2009. "Our bill takes down those costs, even some now, and much less preventing the upward spiral."
The Daily Caller reported that Neera Tanden, head of the liberal Center for American Progress and former adviser to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, wrote that Gruber was not an "architect" of the Obamacare legislation this week. However, she said in 2012 that she called often for his advice regarding health care reform in Massachusetts during a 2012 CAP panel discussion on Romneycare and Obamacare:
While Tanden sought to downplay Gruber’s role in crafting Obamacare in her Journal op-ed, she indicated at an event held at the Center for American Progress on July 31, 2012 that the economist was essential to helping craft the law.
"I remember many a call to Jonathan Gruber about his expertise in Massachusetts as we were formulating the plan," said Tanden, who worked on Obama’s health care team as an adviser to Kathleen Sebelius, the former secretary of Health and Human Services.
"A very important point to make Massachusetts was the framework for the president’s plan," said Tanden.
"The fact that Massachusetts existed was critical to the passage of the Affordable Care Act," she said later in the panel.
"Not only did we call in Jon Gruber for his advice regularly, but we looked very much at the results [of the Massachusetts plan.]"