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The White House is trying to downplay yet another ObamaCare scandal by calling Jonathan Gruber, the architect of the law, a liar. In a statement provided to a leftist blog, a White House spokesperson disputed the MIT economist's October 2013 comment that the designed lack of transparency in ObamaCare was "a huge political advantage" to ram it through Congress.
In October 2013, Gruber suggested the Affordable Care Act wouldn't have passed Congress without deception. "This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure [the Congressional Budget Office] did not score the [individual] mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes the bill dies. In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which said healthy people are going to pay in -- it made explicit that healthy people pay in, sick people get money -- it would not have passed," he said during a panel discussion on the law. "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."
But, in a statement to Talking Points Memo, White House spokesperson Jessica Santillo said Gruber's comments are "simply not true" and distanced the White House from the role Gruber played in the crafting of ObamaCare.
"Transparency is a key goal of the ACA: consumers now have more access to information about their health insurance than ever before," Santillo told the leftist blog. "The Affordable Care Act was publicly debated over the course of 14 months, with dozens of Congressional hearings, and countless town halls, speeches, and debates."
"The tax credits in the law that help millions of middle class Americans afford coverage were no secret, and in fact were central to the legislation," she said. "Not only do we disagree with those comments, they're simply not true," adding that Gruber "did not work in the White House or play the same role in developing the Affordable Care Act."
Santillo didn't say anything, apparently, about Gruber calling American voters "stupid," nor the latest video, in which he bragged about the "basic exploitation" of voters because of their "lack of economic understanding."
The White House can try to distance itself from Gruber all it wants, but he was paid a hefty sum by the Department of Health and Human Services, nearly $400,000, to help craft the law. According to the February 2009 notice posted on FedBizOpps.gov, Gruber's work "will facilitate the [White House] Office of Health Reform’s efforts to develop proposals to increase access to affordable health insurance for all Americans."
What's more, Gruber visited the White House nearly 20 times, according to visitor logs. The White House actively promoted his work on ObamaCare as well as his testimony to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, providing talking points for his so-called "objective analysis." It's worth noting that Gruber's contract with the administration was never disclosed to the Senate HELP Committee.
In a November 2009 blog post, then-White House OMB director Peter Orzag linked to, what he called, "an insightful article" on ObamaCare and quoted Gruber's endorsement of the bill working its way through Congress. Another blog post from the same month promoted a "compelling new report" by Gruber on the purported health premium "savings."
And these examples are just the tip of the iceberg. The fact of the matter is Gruber's work was the basis on which the White House and administration sold ObamaCare to the American public. There's no getting around that.