Jonathan Gruber is the gift that keeps on giving for conservatives on Obamacare. We've already covered his remarks on subsidies for people on the federal exchanges. Now, he's back in the news again. On October 17 of last year, he spoke at a forum at the University of Pennsylvania's Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, and he said, in essence, that Obamacare passed because American voters are stupid and due to the lack of transparency, which was a "political advantage" to Democrats. The original video has been removed by UPenn, probably because it gave conservatives ammunition against Obamacare. Fortunately, Phil Kerpen's group American Commitment was able to clip out the most important part of Gruber's remarks and post them to Youtube. Here they are:
The Daily Caller was the first major news outlet to report on the video, and they've given us a transcript of what was said:
“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.”
Gruber is, to his credit, at least honest about the corrupt, slimy sausage-making process that produced this bill, but that does not absolve him from blame. He might have apologized for his remarks, but they're still out there. They're also fundamentally true, as the Left sees it. If the American people had known about the true nature of this law, it never would have passed Congress.
Regardless, what we now know is that the lack of transparency surrounding the process was deliberate. Many of us have suspected as much for a long time, but it's good to have it out in the open now. Avik Roy at Forbes makes another important point about the law: it is redistributionist in nature, and opacity has hidden that fairly well from many people. He says:
Gruber made an argument that many of Obamacare’s critics have long made, including me. It’s that the law’s complex system of insurance regulation is a way of concealing from voters what Obamacare really is: a huge redistribution of wealth from the young and healthy to the old and unhealthy. In the video, Gruber points out that if Democrats had been honest about these facts, and that the law’s individual mandate is in effect a major tax hike, Obamacare would never have passed Congress.
Hopefully, the new Congress will at least bring an Obamacare repeal to a vote in both Houses. That doesn't mean it will be repealed, but it's good to have everyone on record as to whether they really support fixing this problem or not. In the meantime, we can surely hope that Jonathan Gruber will give us more moments of honesty like this one and his earlier subsidies "speak-o".