Op-Ed

Smug master of deceit caught on tape

OBAMACARE: Jonathan Gruber, who helped craft the Affordable Care Act, said the lack of transparency helped it become law.
OBAMACARE: Jonathan Gruber, who helped craft the Affordable Care Act, said the lack of transparency helped it become law. AP

Jonathan Gruber is the latest Washington bad boy caught on tape, not once but many, many times, boasting that the selling of the Affordable Care Act — ACA — to the country was possible because of American voters’ “stupidity,” saying they could never understand how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) worked and would really be financed.

What Gruber says matters because the MIT economist is often cited as the chief architect of the ACA, and he has made several public presentations proudly touting the exploitation of the American people.

Gruber explains unapologetically that lying was politically necessary because the voting public would otherwise never have accepted the fundamentals of the ACA. He says that the Obama administration and ACA proponents strategically obscured the fact that the flawed legislation’s financing was based on a massive tax hike on the young and healthy. He also unmasks former Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, now secretary of state, whom Gruber calls a “genius” for his role in duping the public.

It was Kerry who suggested that they could finance the ACA through a new tax on the health-insurance industry that would then pass it on to the consumer who is being forced to buy from them.

At a conference at the University of Pennsylvania last year, Gruber said that “the lack of transparency is a real political advantage” in passing legislation, then cheerfully added that “the stupidity of the American voter was really critical for the Affordable Care Act to pass.” Speaking of the American public in such demeaning terms in front of a camera shows a dangerous political smugness.

He also reveals the depths to which President Obama and the Democrats on Capitol Hill went to lie to the public in order to pass the ACA.

“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) did not score the mandate as taxes,” Gruber said on a 2013 panel. “If the CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies.” Additionally, ACA proponents did not want to tell voters that this was a massive and costly expansion of welfare. “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.” To make matters worse for Democrats, Gruber added: “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 to getting the thing to pass.”

Not everyone, of course, was duped about the flawed fundamentals behind the ACA nor the deceit: There were those who said the numbers the Obama administration touted did not add up. Call it fuzzy math. It also did nothing to reduce the rising cost of healthcare.

Gruber’s comments reinvigorate the debate to reform; some would say repeal the ACA. There is a legal challenge that could dismantle it. The U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing the case of King vs. Burwell focusing on whether consumer tax credits apply to the individual state marketplaces set up in 16 states or the federally operated marketplaces that are used in 34 states. If the court determines that the law establishes only state-run exchanges are eligible for tax credits, the ACA falls apart.

It is unlikely that Gruber’s comments alone have mortally wounded the ACA, but they do demonstrate two things. First, the liberal philosophy that only government knows what is good for people because they are too stupid to know it for themselves is alive and well in some sectors of high-brow world of academia. Second, Gruber was paid handsomely either through a 501(c)(3) in an “education” role or by “stupid” American voters and taxpayers for his government work as a consultant for the ACA. These voters may not always be enlightened, but the fact that Gruber would say so in front of a camera more than once makes him look pretty simple-minded himself.

It also sounds like Gruber is finessing his lectures for a new course at MIT, which would be aptly called “Political Immorality 101.” You don’t need to see the syllabus to know that his ilk has mastered deceit as political strategy.

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