Obamacare Architect States That The Law Was Only Passed Due To “The Lack of Transparency” and The “Stupidity of the American Voter” UPDATED

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 9.26.38 AMWe previously discussed the statements of Jonathan Gruber, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist who played a major role the ACA, or “Obamacare,” where he repeatedly endorsed the theory at the heart of the recent decisions in Halbig and King by challengers to the ACA: to wit, that the federal funding provision was a quid pro quo device to reward states with their own exchanges and to punish those that force the creation of federal exchanges. That issue will now be decided by the United States Supreme Court. Gruber caused a considerable controversy when, after he had denounced the theory as “nutty” during the arguments in Halbig and King, he was shown later to have embraced that same interpretation. Having been paid almost $400,000 as an architect of the ACA, Gruber has become a major liability in the litigation. Now Gruber is back in the news with an equally startling admission that the Obama Administration (and Gruber) succeeded in passing the ACA only by engineering a “lack of transparency” on the details and relying on “the stupidity of the American voter.”

Gruber’s remarks were made on a panel given roughly a year ago on Oct. 17, 2013. Notably, this was at the height of the tension over the ACA. While I have long supported national health care, I was critical of the sloppy drafting of the ACA, the federalism conflicts contained in the individual mandate provision, and the unsupportable claims made by the White House in selling the Act. The last concern was the subject of Gruber’s comments. Gruber told the crowd that the “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.” He also said that “basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass.”

Gruber also later states that New York Sen. Chuck Schumer (D.) is someone who “as far as I can tell, doesn’t understand economics” while calling a staffer for Sen. Olympia Snowe (R., Maine) an “idiot.” The later reference appears to be a reference to aide William Pewen.

The specific comments on the bill are transcribed as follows:

“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. 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 that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed… Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass… Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”

I was concerned that these lines were taken out of context so I watched the video below:

What is fascinating is that Gruber is open about what has long been hidden in this Administration: the lack of transparency as a tactical political vehicle. The ACA was pushed through by a muscle vote on a handful of votes while the Administration made claims that he later had to admit were misleading at best, such as the President’s repeated assurance that citizens could keep your current insurance policy if you liked it.

Gruber also admits that the Administration crafted the law to avoid it being supported by a tax despite Chief Justice John Roberts’ later decision that it was a tax. Gruber says that, while he would have preferred to be honest and open, such considerations had to be set aside in the interests of passing the law — even by less than honest means.

In a truly ironic twist, the University of Pennsylvania tried to pull back the admission on the lack of transparency by pulling the video:


It was too late. The video was out.

In fairness to Gruber, he was doing what an academic is supposed to do in honestly assessing what he believed occurred in the historic passage of the ACA. While he later sought to deny the earlier comments that he made on the state exchanges (in a less than candid moment), there is thus far no comment from him on this latest video. As in the earlier admissions, there has been little relative coverage by the mainstream media of the comments. Once again, the lack of media attention is surprising given the importance of Gruber to the ACA and the Administration.

Jonathan-Gruber-1UPDATE: Gruber went on MSNBC to say that his comments were “inappropriate” while the host insisted that his comments were misunderstood as “nuanced” observations.

311 thoughts on “Obamacare Architect States That The Law Was Only Passed Due To “The Lack of Transparency” and The “Stupidity of the American Voter” UPDATED”

  1. Add: To tie in correcting issac’s canard about Operation Iraqi Freedom with Professor Turley’s OP about dishonest governance by the Obama administration, President Obama was elected President in the first place in 2008 largely due to Democrats lying to the American people about the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement. It stands to reason the Democrats would have maintained a proven political strategy from election to governance.

  2. issac: “criminally under false pretenses invaded and destroyed Iraq”

    Hm. I’ve disposed of this canard several times already on Professor Turley’s blog, but it keeps growing back under different names under disparate topics.

    Excerpt from my explanation of the law and policy basis of Operation Freedom at http://learning-curve.blogspot.com/2014/05/operation-iraqi-freedom-faq.html:

    Bush cited properly to Iraq’s noncompliance with the [Gulf War ceasefire] UNSC resolutions as Clinton had done for [Operation Desert Fox]. But in a departure from Clinton’s public presentation, Bush also cited the pre-war intelligence, despite that the intelligence could not trigger enforcement. Propagandists pounced on Bush’s error of presentation to shift the burden of proof from Iraq proving compliance with the UNSC resolutions to the US proving Iraqi possession matched the pre-war intelligence estimates. However, the mistake does not change that Iraqi possession was established in the factual baseline of the Gulf War ceasefire as the foundational premise of the disarmament process. The only legal and reliable way to know Saddam had disarmed was Iraq proving compliance with the standard mandated by the UNSC resolutions enforced under US law. Saddam’s noncompliance – including Iraq’s basic failure to declare and destroy all its as-of-Gulf-War WMD under international supervision – was confirmed by UNMOVIC with the Cluster Document, which imputed the continued possession of proscribed weapons by Iraq, whereupon Bush properly applied the operative enforcement procedure at the decision point for [Operation Iraqi Freedom].

  3. “Obama is the President Nixon wanted to be.”

    “You lie!” Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C.

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

    Evil is triumphant.

    Good men are doing absolutely nothing.

  4. Darren Smith – “Jim, I understand your feelings on this, yet to do nothing is a worse course of action. Inertia can take time to increase. This is why we need to keep up the struggle. One matters reach a tipping point often change manifests. Yet if nothing is done then issues stagnate and resuscitating their vigor requires much more effort.”

    Here I am commenting on a legal/lawyer site and if you look at the responses to the topic, it appears non of it centers about what real actions can/will take place for a corrupt govt. not only lying to its lemmings but flat out throwing it in our face knowing that nothing will happen. When an a-whole like Lois Lerner is still breathing the same free air that we are, you know that this whole thing is a joke.

  5. http://newsbusters.org/blogs/mark-finkelstein/2014/11/12/mika-admits-if-gruber-were-republican-msm-would-be-exploding#sthash.RnN9Qkug.dpuf

    Kudos to Mika Brzezinski for admitting the truth: if Jonathan Gruber were a Republican, the MSM “would be exploding.” Instead, noted Mika on today’s Morning Joe, the MSM has been silent on the Gruber story, with only conservative sites [ed.: notably including Newsbusters] covering it.

    Mika contrasted the current quietness on the MSM-Gruber front with the media “firestorm” that erupted when David Stockman made his infamous allegations about Reagonomics.

    1. Anon, I know you want to ignore reality to make your points but as I stated upthread when this first came o ut in 2013, when it was in fact timely news, I saw articles on MSM about it.
      I am saddened and sickened by the name calling that I see here as the replies. Lack of thought and true debate, instead if I call names then I must be right,. Sad.
      End of this thread for me.

  6. Sooo, the rafflaws and the Annies ignore the fact that Sarah Palin got it right, and that they were part of the “stupid Americans” who continue to vote for Democrats. And what reasoned argument do they make to that charge??? Oh, they just double down on the ad hominem name-calling stuff. Why am I not surprised.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  7. Gruber’s lying is completely consistent with this Ezra Klein “Netroots” speech – given just a few days before the 2008 presidential election in which Klein says his fellow comrades have to lie to impose the kind of healthcare system on society that he wants.


    I wish I could remember who said it to give proper credit, but someone once described Soviet era agitprop as “lying for the truth”. I understood that to mean that their vision of how society ought to be is “the truth” and so “lying for the truth” is how to achieve a society they consider to be “better”. Which of course is a version of “the ends justify the means” – another leftist tagline to say that whatever it takes to achieve the end game – including lying – is fine. Because they know what’s best for you and if you don’t agree then you must be lied to. It’s always wrapped up in phony expressions of compassion and benevolence when it’s really about using government force – rather than market forces – to decide how economic resources are allocated.

    With all this Democrat lying to achieve communist-like, redistributionist social goals, we are rapidly approaching a place in our history where we need our version of an Alexander Solzhenitsyn to step up. He’d lived under Soviet lies his entire life. One of his last great essays was a plea to his countrymen to “Live Not By Lies”.


  8. oh wait its Fox news. Who cares if its actual video of gruber calling YOU stupid……again.
    It cant be true or worthy of watching since its on Fox.
    At this point you guys dont bury your head in the sand anymore. You bury it in your asses

  9. lets see how stupid all the progressives are now! Tell us proggies, are you still stupid or is the truth sinking in yet?


  11. This entire thread reminds me of the Geico commercial that “words really can hurt”. With all of Gruber’s brilliance, it’s the fundamental character flaw of progressive politics that did him in; EGO. Replace the words “THE END” in this clip with “HUMILITY” and you have the progressive left on horseback. 🙂


  12. Annie, I think that drunken brawling incident might hurt Palin, but she said she might run for office anyway. She probably would get some support here… a good fit.

  13. and anon, just posting “we need death panels” lets you present it as though that is what he is requesting, and as someone who was in the administration
    Let’s set the record straight. He even says in the second sentence:

    Well, maybe not death panels, exactly, but unless we start allocating health care resources more prudently — rationing, by its proper name — the exploding cost of Medicare will swamp the federal budget.

    But in the pantheon of toxic issues — the famous “third rails” of American politics — none stands taller than overtly acknowledging that elderly Americans are not entitled to every conceivable medical procedure or pharmaceutical.

    Most notably, President Obama’s estimable Affordable Care Act regrettably includes severe restrictions on any reduction in Medicare services or increase in fees to beneficiaries. In 2009, Sarah Palin’s rant about death panels even forced elimination from the bill of a provision to offer end-of-life consultations.

    he is talking about the medicare system which strangely some of the right on here had written needs to be revamped or gotten rid of because it may someday go broke. This article is about changing that and using resources more wisely.
    But hey sounds much better when you try to present it as An Obama official says we need death panels.
    This is exactly what I mean when I say the right (more then the left but both do it although even when I add that disclaimer Paul et al come out and asy oh there you go only saying repubs.) lie, distort, remove context.

  14. (Last comment obviously not reply to Paul but comment re anon, cnn had nothing about the story.)

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