Before he became the Obama administration’s least favorite overpaid expert, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber was its darling. He appeared in an Obama campaign ad saying, “I helped (Massachusetts) Gov. (Mitt) Romney develop his health care reform, or Romneycare, before going down to Washington to help President Obama develop his national version of that law.” The false portrayal of Romneycare and Obamacare as practically identical fueled the Democratic delusion that Congress had drafted the Affordable Care Act to appeal to rascally Republicans.
Now Gruber is in the doghouse because he was captured on video being brutally honest. In 2010, Gruber told a panel, “Barack Obama’s not a stupid man, OK?” Obama knew the public doesn’t care about the uninsured, Gruber said. “What the American public cares about is costs. And that’s why even though the bill that they made is 90 percent health insurance coverage and 10 percent about cost control, all you ever hear people talk about is cost control.”
Ergo, candidate Obama’s 2008 promise that his universal health plan would “bring down premiums by $2,500 for the typical family.”
What happened to those savings? Josh Archambault, senior fellow at the Foundation for Government Accountability, a free market think tank, answered, “We have not seen them yet.”
Even in 2008, it was clear that pledge was bogus. The New York Times reported in July, “The health policy advisers who formulated the figure say it actually represents the average family’s share of savings not only in premiums paid by individuals, but also in premiums paid by employers and in tax-supported health programs like Medicare and Medicaid.” Economist David Cutler admitted to “occasional misstatements” made in service to a desire to “find a way to talk to people in a way they understand.”
(Three Harvard professors made a “best guess” as to how much the government, employers and consumers might save when Obama’s proposals are fully implemented — $200 billion annually — divided by the number of Americans and multiplied by four. Then they let Obamaland talk as if all the savings would go to premium reductions.)
At a different venue, Gruber alluded to the “stupidity of the American voter” for falling for the administration’s claim that Obamacare’s Cadillac tax on employer-paid health plans would be “a tax on insurance plans rather than a tax on people when we all know it’s a tax on people who hold those insurance plans.”
Obama whisperer David Axelrod tweeted, “If you looked up ‘stupid’ in dictionary, you’d find Gruber’s picture.” For a stupid guy, Gruber sure cashed in. According to Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler, the federal government paid Gruber almost $400,000 to consult on the Affordable Care Act in 2009 and another $2 million over seven years to assess Medicare choices.
In 2012, Gruber was a key figure in the making of a myth — that is, that Democrats drafted Obamacare to attract Republicans, who perversely would not vote for the law, thus forcing Democrats to enact a measure they didn’t really want. Chalk that up to the stupidity of the consulting class — which pays very well.
Email Debra J. Saunders at firstname.lastname@example.org.