Morning Joe Mocks White House for Not Being 'Fully Forthcoming' on Gruber's Reportedly Large Role in Obamacare

June 22, 2015

MSNBC's Morning Joe panel Monday mocked the Obama administration for not being forthcoming on the large role of MIT economist Jonathan Gruber in the writing and shaping of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Gruber, one of the law's architects, caused the Obama administration a huge political headache last November after comments surfaced of him referring to the "stupidity of the American voter" and that it was a "huge political advantage" for the law to be written with a lack of transparency. Gruber later apologized for the remarks before Congress, calling them "glib."

The White House sought to distance itself from him at the time, with Obama himself calling him "some adviser who never worked on our staff," but the Wall Street Journal revealed "frequent consultations" between Gruber and top Obama staffers:

The emails, provided by the House Oversight Committee to The Wall Street Journal, cover messages Mr. Gruber sent from January 2009 through March 2010. Committee staffers said they worked with MIT to obtain the 20,000 pages of emails.

The committee released the information in the days before the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a lawsuit that could strike down subsidies on the federal health-care insurance exchange.

The emails show frequent consultations between Mr. Gruber and top Obama administration staffers and advisers in the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services on the Affordable Care Act. They show he informed HHS about interviews with reporters and discussions with lawmakers, and he consulted with HHS about how to publicly describe his role.

"I owe my Republican sources an apology, because they kept telling me he was hugely involved and the White House played it down," author Mark Halperin said. "They were right. The Republicans were right ... I think the [White House] was not fully forthcoming."

Former Democratic Party chair Howard Dean laughed, also using the politically safe phrase, "They were not fully forthcoming."

Host Joe Scarborough appeared to relish the article coming out, asking fellow guest and former Democratic congressman Harold Ford if the White House lied about his involvement.

"I would say they were not fully forthcoming," Ford said, echoing the others' remarks to laughter around the table.

"Mika, let me see if one person will talk straight," Scarborough said. "The White House assured us that Mr. Gruber was a bit player. It appears now that was not true. Did the White House lie about Mr. Gruber's involvement?"

"It certainly appears they did," co-host Mika Brzezinski said.