The co-architect of Obamacare who once declared that a “lack of transparency” and the “stupidity of the American voter” helped pass Obama’s signature legislation now is pinning blame on President Trump for its problems.
Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economics professor, was confronted by “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace with the fact that the only insurance company left in 94 of Iowa’s 99 counties is considering leaving the state.
“Look, and whose fault is this?” Gruber asked Wallace Sunday. “Before President Trump was elected, there were no counties in America that did not have an insurer.”
Wallace interjected: “Wait, you’re going to blame the problems with Obamacare on President Trump?”
In 2014, a video surfaced showing Gruber talking about the political advantage of hiding aspects of the Obamacare bill from the public when it was in Congress, disclosing that the obfuscation was critical to the bill’s passage.
Since it was signed into law in 2010, premiums have skyrocketed, and patients have lost the plans and the doctors they wanted to keep, contrary to Obama’s promises.
More recently, insurance companies have pulled out of the Obamacare markets.
But Gruber said Sunday that’s Trump’s fault.
“Insurers’ profits were trending positively, insurers were saying positive things about their ability to stay in the exchange, to succeed,” Gruber said. “Then you have a president who comes in, undercuts open enrollment, doesn’t honor the obligations this law makes to insurers.”
Consequently, said Gruber, “premiums are going up and insurers are exiting.”
Republican strategist Karl Rove jumped in, pointing out Obamacare’s problems began long before Trump stopped enrollment advertising.
“Trump stopped the ads on the 26th of January, and the end of the enrollment period was the 31st,” Rove said. “Really? The problems of Obamacare are going to be solved by four days’ worth of TV ads?”
See the “Fox News Sunday” interview with Gruber:
‘Written in a tortured way’
In 2014, a video surfaced showing Gruber on a panel confessing that Obamacare “was written in a tortured way to make sure that CBO (the Congressional Budget Office) did not score the mandate as taxes.”
“If CBO scores the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. OK. So it’s written to do that. In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law that made it explicit that the healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed,” he said.
“Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. Call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass,” said Gruber.
See Gruber’s remarks:
While the Obama administration tried to distance itself from Gruber and his remarks, the professor’s official bio on the website of a think tank close to the Obama White House boasted that he helped to craft Obamacare.
Gruber’s bio at the Hamilton Project, an economic initiative launched by the Brookings Institution in 2006, reads: “During 2009-2010 he served as a technical consultant to the Obama Administration and worked with both the Administration and Congress to help craft the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”
And Obama himself said at the 2006 launch of the Hamilton Project that he had stolen ideas “liberally” from Gruber.
Meanwhile, the Washington Times reported Sunday Democrats are hoping the Obamacare “repeal-and-replace” bill passed by the House last Thursday will damage Republicans at the ballot box just as Obamacare led to the defeat of many Democrats.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said on ABC’s “This Week” the House bill rescued “people from a collapsing system.”
But Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., predicted on Twitter that “people will die,” and Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., accused Republicans of letting “thousands of Americans die so that billionaires get tax breaks,” the Times said.
Republican senators, expressing displeasure with the House bill, have begun working on their own version.
But Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., predicted Monday that Republicans will delay the bill until after the 2018 elections.
“Leader [Mitch] McConnell is going to take some time here, and while he might actually pass a bill in the Senate, he’ll send it into the Republican conference,” Coons told MSNBC, adding it wouldn’t come out of conference until after the 2018 election.
After the House bill passed, veteran political analyst and columnist Charles Krauthammer observed that the House bill accepts the fundamental premise of government-controlled health care, leading him to predict that the United States is on its way to a single-payer health-care system completely funded by the government.
‘Are you stupid?’
In December 2014, Gruber was questioned by the House Oversight Committee for admitting that Obamacare would not have passed if the American people knew what was in the bill
Chairman Darrell Issa began his questioning of Gruber asking: “Are you stupid?”
“No,” Gruber replied.
Issa then asked: “Does MIT employ stupid people?”
“No,” said Gruber.
Issa continued: “You said you had to deceive the American people to get the Obamacare passed.
“If you deceived American people then, how do we know you are not deceiving the American people now, especially in light of your being paid in excess of $4 million for your analysis?” he asked.
Gruber refused to answer the question directly.
“I think the quality of the modeling I did should not be brought into question by comments I made,” he said.