Obamacare architect fumbles
It’s not exactly the Ems Dispatch (the diplomatic cable Bismarck doctored to provoke the 1870 Franco-Prussian War). But what the just-resurfaced Gruber Confession lacks in world-historical consequence, it makes up for in world-class cynicism. This October 2013 video shows MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, a principal architect of Obamacare, admitting that, to get it passed, the law was made deliberately obscure and deceptive.
“Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage,” said Gruber.
First, Gruber said, the bill’s authors manipulated the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which issues gold-standard cost estimates of any legislative proposal.
Worse was the pretense that Obamacare wouldn’t cost anyone anything. On the contrary, it’s a win-win, insisted President Obama, promising that the “typical family” would save $2,500 on premiums every year. Skeptics like me pointed out the obvious: You can’t subsidize 30 million uninsured without someone paying something. Indeed, Gruber admits, Obamacare was a huge transfer of wealth — which had to be hidden from the American people.
It gets even worse, thanks again to Gruber. Last week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case claiming that the administration is violating its own health care law, which clearly specifies that subsidies can be given only to insurance purchased on “exchanges established by the state.” Just 13 states have set up such exchanges. Yet the administration is giving tax credits to plans bought on the federal exchange — serving 37 states — despite what the law says.
If the government loses, the subsidy system collapses and, with it, Obamacare itself. Which is why the administration is frantically arguing that “exchanges established by the state” is merely sloppy drafting, a kind of legislative typo. And that the intent all along was to subsidize all plans on all exchanges.
Re-enter professor Gruber. On a separate video in a different speech, he explains what Obamacare intended: “If you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits.” The legislative idea was to coerce states into setting up their own exchanges by otherwise denying their citizens subsidies. This may have been a stupid idea, but it was no slip. And it’s the law, as written, as enacted and as intended. It can be changed by Congress only, not by the executive.
Charles Krauthammer writes for the Washington Post.