LOS ANGELES, November 18, 2014— “Grubering” is now being defined as the exaggeration and outright lies that politicians or their surrogates engage in order to sell the public on a particular policy initiative. Tap dancing on the heads of Americans.
Thank you M.I.T. economist Jonathan Gruber
In less than a month, Jonathan Gruber has gone from being a top consultant on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to a nuclear meltdown. Everyone involved in the ACA is doing their utmost to get away from the fallout.
Good luck with that.
A series of videos uncovered by Philadelphia-area financial adviser Rich Weinstein have been instrumental in this, and may be exactly the major erosion needed to see Obamacare collapse upon itself.
Weinstein began his own investigation of the ACA after his family’s insurance premiums doubled in a year. Weinstein actually believed President Obama’s promise of “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan.” Now knowing that he had been duped, he decided to find out exactly what the Obama administration and its consultants actually intended for this supposed “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”. Thanks to conservative blogs and media, the videos Weinstein found went from obscurity to virility, and the somnolent mainstream media had to wake up to more deception and failure in the Obama administration.
In a 2013 video recorded at Penn State during the Annual Health Economics Conference, Gruber excitedly exclaimed, “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 for the thing to pass. … Look, I wish … we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”
In another 2012 video, Gruber was the keynote speaker at the Noblis conference, and waxed nostalgically about the truth behind getting Obamacare implemented. Gruber was clear that in order for the law to work, you needed an individual mandate, subsidies, and a reform of the insurance market. He also claimed the system works very well, and that no other options were considered if this system did not work.
“There really is no good Plan B. There is no other private-sector solution that works even a third as well as this.”
Obamacare has only been partially implemented, so what does Gruber think works well? The Healthcare.gov website, which crashed and burned around this time last year, and required the help of insurance provider WellPoint to ensure this year doesn’t look the same? Or is it the over 4 million Americans who were kicked off their plan in 2013 after getting promises from President Obama that if they liked their plan they could keep their plan?
Perhaps it’s working well for those with pre-existing conditions? According to an August 10 New York Post article, that is far from accurate.
“The nonprofit AIDS Institute is suing four Florida health insurers for discriminating against HIV/AIDS patients. The complaint says these patients now face prohibitive out-of-pocket drug costs. Sadly, most of the plans sold via ObamaCare all across the country have similar problems — leaving those with chronic diseases without affordable access to the specialty drugs they need.
“The Affordable Care Act limits the degree to which insurers can charge higher premiums for sicker patients. But ObamaCare plans found a way around these rules: impose higher out-of-pocket costs for all or most specialty drugs.”
Maybe the cost curve is finally bending for the average family? President Obama promised to a rapt audience on Sept. 6, 2008, “We’ll work to lower your premiums by up to $2,500 per family per year.” The President said some variation of the same thing in 18 more stump speeches during the campaign. According to a 2014 report from Kaiser Foundation, this is not happening. From looking at the report and their numbers, it’s doubtful that it ever will:
“[T]he average employer-based family policy increased three percent over the last year. The $16,834 average annual family premium in 2014 is 26% higher than the average family premium in 2009.”
The ACA was signed into law in 2010. So how exactly is this the only private-sector plan that works? Alternative plans submitted by Republicans in both the House and Senate were either buried or rejected roundly. States like Indiana, which had done wonders to reduce its state healthcare costs, offered alternative solutions, and they were ignored by the administration. So how would Gruber know this is the only way when other methods had not even been considered?
One thing is clear throughout these videos: Gruber truly believes he is the hero in this scenario, doing his significant part to bring affordable healthcare to the masses, and give those stupid American voters what they cannot understand, but will be grateful for later.
Gruber even created a comic book: Healthcare Reform: What It Is, Why It’s Necessary, casting himself as a superhero economist touting the benefits of the new healthcare law, and debunking the myths like “Death Panels” and the “Cadillac Tax”. One page from the book has the cartoon Gruber lecturing the reader, “Without the mandate, we can’t require insurers to charge the sick and the healthy the same price. The mandate is the spinach we have to eat in order to get the dessert that is a working non-group insurance market.”
How condescending can you get? Yet, people are only outraged because he called the American voters “stupid.” If you listen to all the videos and read the reporting, there is much to be outraged about.
One of the things that should stir outrage is that Gruber was paid over $400,000 in taxpayer money by the Department of Health and Human Services to lie, deceive, and obfuscate. DHHS is not the only government organization that has paid for Gruber’s expertise. Fox News reported that Gruber collected a total of 5 million in federal contracts over 15 years from the National Institutes of Health (2.05 million), the Department of Justice (1.737 million), and the Department of State (103,500). Gruber has also raked in money from the states where he either consulted or created computer models for insurance exchanges. Gruber and a few of his colleagues netted state contracts totaling $1.6 million over seven years from Michigan ($481,000), Minnesota ($329,000), Wisconsin ($400,000), West Virginia (121,500), and Vermont ($91,875), to name a few.
This is interesting, because in the Noblis video, Gruber considers state implementation to be one of the biggest threats to Obamacare’s functionality should the state’s refuse to do exchanges. More than 30 states have done just that, and the lawsuit of King v. Burwell which is currently before the Supreme Court, claims that the language of the Affordable Care Act doesn’t allow the government to provide tax credits to low- and moderate-income health insurance consumers in states that use the federally-run exchanges. Should the Supremes rule in favor of the plaintiffs, Gruber’s worst nightmare will become reality.
Gruber should have just taken the money and kept his mouth shut. The old World War II dictate, “Loose lips, sink ships”, is at play here. However, when you are speaking with those who you consider fellow travelers, you feel a freedom to talk extensively about how clever you are in pulling the wool over the Congressional Budget Office and the American people in order to make nationalized health care possible.
In typical fashion, President Obama is claiming that he has just heard about all this “Grubering” surrounding his signature legislation. President Obama spoke to reporters following the G-20 summit in Brisbane, Australia on Sunday, and flat out denied having any contact with the economist known as Jonathan Gruber.
“The fact that some adviser who never worked on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters, is no reflection on the actual process that was run. We had a year-long debate, Ed. I mean, go back and look at your stories. The one thing we can’t is that we did not have a lengthy debate about healthcare in the United States of America. Or that it was not adequately covered. I would just advise – every press outlet here, go back and pull up every clip, every story, and I think it will – it’s fair to say there was not a provision in the health care law that was not extensively debated and was fully transparent.” (emphases mine)
Conservative media never backs down from a challenge. Political action committee American Commitment posted this video from 2006 where Obama brags about his health care policy, saying, “You have already drawn some of the brightest minds from academia and policy circles, many of them that I have stolen ideas from liberally, people ranging from Robert Gordon to Austan Goolsbee; Jon Gruber; my dear friend, Jim Wallis here, who can inform what are sometimes dry policy debates with a prophetic voice.”
No wonder the Obama administration is so intent on controlling the Internet. YouTube is a bitch.