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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

"US Voters Are Stupid", That's How Obamacare Was Passed

Jonathan Gruber is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) health economist who was one of the architects of the Affordable Care Act (better known as Obamacare) in America, modelled on the UK's NHS.

Not once, but twice he has been caught on tape saying that the "stupidity of the American voter" made a certain amount of duplicity necessary to the passage of Obamacare.

The first time was during the panel sessions at the 2013 Annual Health Economics Conference, the video of which you can see above. (The relevant remarks are at 20:25.) The video surfaced in November of this year.

"This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO [Congressional Budget Office, a federal agency that provides budget and economic information to Congress] did not score the mandate as taxes," he said. "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 to getting the thing to pass.”

"In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which explicitly said that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed," he added. "You can't do it politically, you just literally cannot do it. It's not only transparent financing but also transparent spending."

The National Interest observes in the piece "How One Man Could Obliterate Obamacare":
Obamacare is largely a Medicaid expansion plus churn between old health-insurance plans and new Obamacare-compliant ones, so far achieving modest gains in coverage at the cost of higher premiums and reduced access for many.

It's hard to imagine the stupid American voter would be enamored of this, if smart people like Jonathan Gruber had deigned to explain it to them at the time.

Liberals quickly disowned Gruber's impolitic observations. Some even insisted it was the most transparent debate ever, as suits the most transparent administration in history...

Gruber-gate is important for a few reasons besides the normal political "gotcha" game. First, it reminds us that Obamacare's losers will remain a vital part of the repeal constituency. The mobilization of such people was essential to rolling back the Medicare catastrophic coverage expansion of the 1980s, one of the most prominent examples of a broad-based entitlement being repealed in the post–New Deal era.

Second, it is a fitting window into how the technocrats view the masses. You might have liked the health plan you already had, but Jonathan Gruber knows it was bare-boned and terrible. The liberals truly are the best and the brightest.
But the excuses about his speech subsequently offered by Gruber, the Democrats and their supporters have been refuted by similar utterances on his part.

Another video surfaced showing Gruber speaking at an October 2013 event at Washington University in St. Louis, once again claiming that the Obamacare's authors took advantage of the "stupid" American people.

Referring to the so-called "Cadillac tax" on high-end health plans, he said: "They proposed it and that passed, because the American people are too stupid to understand the difference."

Republican Senator John Barrasso told Fox News: "It confirms people's greatest fear about the government. Remember, it was [California Democrat] Nancy Pelosi who said first you have to pass it before you get to find out what's in it.

"We knew it was written in a way that it was really deliberately written to deceive the American people, and now people are paying the price."

And that's not enough:
The Obamacare architect had already become Exhibit A in the Halbig v. Burwell case, now on its way to the Supreme Court, which could potentially make people who bought health insurance through the federal exchange ineligible for subsidies.
Little-noticed comments made by Gruber in 2012 could unravel the Affordable Care Act and offer the law's conservative challengers a major boost in the most high-profile ongoing challenge to undo it.

Republicans say they will try once again to repeal the health-care law, described by Robert E. Moffit, senior fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Health Policy Studies, as a disaster, or at least change its most controversial provisions.

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