Gruber Emails Reveal His Insider Role

 

If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. Jonathan Gruber, the MIT health economist who once spoke candidly about the development of ObamaCare, really did know what he was talking about.

Gruber was the talk of the media last November when several videos were discovered showing him talking openly about the deception used by the Obama administration to pass the new healthcare law. Here are just a few quotes from these tapes:

“Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.”

                                                            University of Pennsylvania, October 17, 2013

“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.”

                                                            University of Pennsylvania, October 17, 2013

We just tax the insurance companies, they pass on higher prices that offsets the tax break we get, it ends up being the same thing. It’s a very clever, you know, basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter.”

                                                            Washington University, October 2013

“If you had a law which . . . made explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed.”

                                                            Washington University, October 2013

 

When the tapes were discovered, Gruber tried to distance himself from his remarks, calling them “self-serving.” He denied he was “the architect of ObamaCare” although others referred to him with that title. “The comments in the video were made at an academic conference,” Gruber told MSNBC. “I was speaking off the cuff. I basically spoke inappropriately. I regret having made those comments.”

The Tax Subsidies

Gruber’s remarks were offensive to many because he slandered the intelligence of the American voters. But they were also offensive because they showed the lengths that he and the Obama administration were willing to go to deceive the American people.

All of this would seem largely academic to those who have always been skeptical of the way our government behaves behind closed doors. But Gruber’s remarks also addressed a critical issue even now awaiting a decision from the Supreme Court regarding tax subsidies granted on the federal insurance exchange.

In King v. Burwell, the Court will decide if the statute as written will be upheld or whether the interpretation of that statute by the Obama administration is valid. The White House insists they merely interpreted the law as Congress intended and the actual wording of the statute was an error; simply a typo never intended.

But Gruber is clearly on record on these tapes saying the opposite. Gruber makes it clear the intention of the statute as written was to strongly incentivize the states to set up their own exchanges:

If you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits. I hope that that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges.”

Democratic Reactions

The White House and leading Democrats like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have tried to distance themselves from Gruber’s remarks by denying any association with him. When asked to comment on Gruber’s remarks, Pelosi said this:

I don’t know who he is. He didn’t write our bill.”

Yet in 2009 she specifically cited Gruber’s analysis of the health care bill in the debate before passage of the law. Videotape of Pelosi confirms her support of him in which she uses his analysis as evidence of the bill’s credibility. His work was quoted and linked on her website at that time.

President Obama also tried to distance himself from Gruber’s remarks. At a press conference while traveling in Burma, Obama responded to a question about Gruber’s comments by saying:

“The fact that some advisor who never worked on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters, is no reflection of the actual process that was run.”

Yet the public record of the White House confirms, and Gruber’s public statements agree, that Gruber visited the White House on 19 separate occasions during the debate and design of ObamaCare and was paid nearly $400,000 by HHS for his expertise and consultations.

More videotape documents President Obama’s support of Gruber and his analysis of the new law and holds him out as the world recognized expert on healthcare economics that he is. An investigation by Fox News revealed Gruber has been paid $5.9 million by HHS and multiple states in the last 15 years for analysis and consultation on the development of healthcare policies.

New Emails Released

All of this takes on added significance as the deadline for release of the Supreme Court decision approaches. In addition, new emails have been released by the House Oversight Committee that document Gruber’s integral part in the writing of the law.

Stephanie Armour, writing for The Wall Street Journal, says over 20,000 pages of emails were provided to WSJ by the committee and cover messages from Gruber sent from January, 2009 through March, 2010. They show frequent consultations between Gruber and top Obama administration staffers and advisers in the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services on the Affordable Care Act.

The emails show Gruber was in touch with key advisers such as Peter Orzag, director of the Office of Management and Budget, an arm of the White House that oversaw federal programs. He was also in contact with Jason Furman, economic adviser to the president, and Ezekiel Emmanuel, a special advisor for health policy at OMB.

They also document he met with the president. In a July, 2009 email, he wrote that Mr. Orzag had “invited me to meet with the head honcho to talk about cost control.”

Jeanne Lambrew, a top Obama administration health adviser who worked at HHS and the White House sent a September 9, 2009 email to Gruber that said, “Thank you for being an integral part of getting us to this historic moment.(emphasis mine) In a November 2009 email, she called Mr. Gruber, “our hero.”

These emails clearly show that Jonathan Gruber was an important part of the planning and development of ObamaCare – and that the administration was well aware of the wording of the statute that said subsidies were available only to those “exchanges established by the State.” All of the comments to the contrary by the White House, President Obama, and key Democrats have only been intended to deceive us, once again.

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