MIT professor Jonathan Gruber is once again a darling of the right, on tape confirming every suspicion that they have about the duplicity and elitism of the Obama administration. Earlier this year, he confirmed their version of events in the lawsuit that aims to undercut Obamacare by invalidating the tax subsidies offered on the federal health exchange.
Now there’s much more.
A new video of Gruber has surfaced in which he seems to credit a “lack of transparency” for Obamacare’s passage, while also referencing the role of “the stupidity of the American voter.” It is, based on the video recorded in October 2013 at an economics conference at the University of Pennsylvania, a decidedly unappealing description of the legislative process that resulted in the most significant social reform in a generation.
It is given all the more potency because Gruber was a key consultant for the Obama administration during the law’s creation, and so he serves, in the eyes of many conservatives, as a stand-in for President Barack Obama himself.
In the video, posted to YouTube last Friday and picked up by conservative outlets this week, Gruber talks about the “tortured way” that Obamacare was written so that the individual mandate was not considered a tax and and that it was never actually articulated that healthy people would pay into the system to help cover sick people.
“Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage,” Gruber said. “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 … that we could make it all transparent,” he concluded. “But I’d rather have this law than not.”
It is an unsavory assessment of the legislative process and how it was viewed by a key administration ally. Gruber himself said on MSNBC on Tuesday that he had spoken “inappropriately” and that he regretted the comments. And that was before another video popped up on Tuesday night via Fox News’s Megyn Kelly, in which Gruber appears (in a very short video lacking much context) to say that American voters are “too stupid to understand the difference” while he described the law’s construction.
The White House didn’t respond to TPM’s request for comment, and the Department of Health and Human Services declined to comment. Gruber also declined to elaborate.
The real power of Gruber’s unguarded remarks, one could argue, comes from the fact that they confirm everything that conservatives already believed about the Obama administration generally and Obamacare’s passage specifically.
Some on the right were rather explicit about the comments’ political value, knowingly referring to Gruber as the best spokesperson that the law’s opponents could ask for.
Pro-Obamacare Jonathan Gruber rapidly becoming the most effective anti-Obamacare messenger.
— Jim Antle (@jimantle) November 10, 2014
In the age of Halbig, Jon Gruber is the most effective spokesman Obamacare opponents have
— Allahpundit (@allahpundit) November 10, 2014
— Jonathan H. Adler (@jadler1969) November 10, 2014
And that value is that Gruber serves as a proxy for Obama and provides solid proof — they would argue — about how his White House operates and views its constituents.
“There you go, America. That is what the Democrat Party thinks of you,” Rush Limbaugh said Monday after playing the tape. “This is not something new. He said this a year ago at a conference of economists, but it’s not new. This is how the Democrat Party thinks of most people.”
“What we now know is that the lack of transparency surrounding the process was deliberate,” the folks at Red State wrote. “Many of us have suspected as much for a long time, but it’s good to have it out in the open now.”
An ex-spokesman for former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor wrapped it all up nicely.
Liberal economist and Obamacare architect, Jonathan Gruber: “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.” Obama admin in a nutshell.
— Rory Cooper (@rorycooper) November 11, 2014
They’ve struck gold and they know it. Given the tape, it’s hard to blame them.