A couple days ago, one of Obamacare’s primary architects, Jonathan Gruber, said this about the need for the tactics used in order to get the thing passed.
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.
Despicable as that is, though, what really bothers me are two other things.
In a subsequent interview with MSNBC‘s Ronan Farrow, Gruber had this exchange with Farrow regarding those remarks:
“Do you stand by the comments in that video?,” MSNBC host Ronan Farrow asked Gruber, referring to a video of Gruber explaining how a lack of transparency helped Obamacare pass into law.
“The comments in the video were made at an academic conference,” Gruber said. “I was speaking off the cuff and I basically spoke inappropriately and I regret having made those comments.”
Notice that: Gruber regrets the remarks, but he does not at all regret the underlying principle he espoused. He stands by his claim that Americans are too stupid to understand the issues at hand, and he stands by his claim that it’s entirely appropriate to lie to us in order to get his way.
The other thing that bothers me is the lack of senior Democratic Party officials’ repudiation of Gruber’s underlying principle. I’ve not seen even any rank and file Democrat repudiating it. Apparently, this is a principle of the Democratic Party at large—we’re dumb, and it’s OK to lie to us to get past the impediment to their policy enactment that our dumbness presents.