Lying liars lie even about incidental lapses into truth.
In a double insult, economics professor and political hack Jonathan Gruber has now apologized—not to us, to Congress—for boasting about how clever was the opaque legislative process used to dupe us “stupid” voters about the true nature of Obamacare.
Gruber has become the cynosure of all cynical eyes thanks to numerous videos in which he burbles about how dumb we all are for believing Obamacare claims and promises. O-care’s non-taxes were, in fact, taxes, the “savings” it would bring were, in fact, massive new costs, etc.
“Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage,” he instructs in one clip. “[C]all it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.”
Some voters have indeed been taken in by claims that political magic would make all things medical better, cheaper, faster, stronger, bionic. I can’t exonerate every member of our species from the accusation of “stupidity.” But ideology and wishful thinking are more fundamental explanations of why so many accepted the fairy tales. Many others, vindicating the “sapiens” part of our Latin cognomen, did not.
Admittedly, a slim majority of bozos in Congress did buy into Obamacare. Whether they were incompetent dupes or corrupt dogs, they were all Democrats. Not a single Republican voted for the legislation. But to Gruber, members of Congress seem to be in on the scam. Maybe that’s why he’s apologizing to them and not the public.
Here is the big irony: the stupidly slandered Americans constituted the one demographic too smart to fall for the deceit at the heart of the Affordable Care Act. Poll after poll leading up to Congress passing the ACA demonstrated that most folks opposed it, disbelieving Gruber’s and Obama’s distortions.
Setting the standard for stupid, actually, is Prof. Gruber himself. It was he, after all, who spent an uncomfortable morning before a nasty congressional committee last week, thereby putting his multi-million dollar career as a paid government advisor in jeopardy. Jawboning has its costs.
More consequential to the rest of us, though, is the law Gruber has left behind: the Affordable Care Act. A Politico article on the big-talking MIT professor was headlined with the question: “Will Jonathan Gruber Topple Obamacare?”
Answer: He might.
Slapping the word “stupid” around in place of “American people” will likely only embarrass Gruber and ACA supporters, but Gruber’s comments on how the law deals with federal government subsidies for individuals if their state does not set up a state exchange under Obamacare may prove as illuminating as a thunderbolt.
On film yet again (who’s this guy’s agent?), Gruber insists, “I think what’s important to remember politically about this is that, if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits.”
That very issue is the subject of a legal challenge to Obamacare, King v. Burwell, now in the queue to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The essence of the case posits that the federal government has no authority under the Affordable Care Act to provide subsidies to individuals in states, which have not set up Obamacare exchanges. Only 14 states have set up those exchanges, 36 have not.
Moreover, without the direct taxpayer subsidy enticing individuals to sign up for the healthcare coverage, the whole scheme known as Obamacare falls apart.
Hmmmm. Perhaps this is why last year Gruber called this lawsuit—you guessed it—“stupid.”
Stupid is as stupid says. Over and over again.
Asked point-blank by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) to square his previous comments with the current legality of the Obama Administration giving subsidies to people in 36 states that have not established exchanges, Gruber stammered, “When I made those comments, I believe what I was saying was reflecting uncertainty about the implementation of the federal exchange. I don’t recall exactly what the law says.”
Let’s hope the High Court reads the law as if it were comprised of words with exact meanings and not feelings with ambiguous nebulosity, but one never knows.
Yet, Gruber’s original, partial admissions and his current dishonest retractions certainly confirm what we already know about how political power is gained and gloated over by persons of his type. Now that he has delivered his object lesson, he is free to slither off the public stage.
Take the money and run, Professor. That would be the smart thing. Accept your career for what you made it: a grifter’s tale.
Paul Jacob, December 14, 2014
This column first appeared at Townhall.com.