WASHINGTON, November 13, 2014 — Recent comments by Jon Gruber, the MIT economics professor who formulated most of the economic portions of the Affordable Care Act, are disturbing because they directly counter major tenets of democracy.
Democracy flourishes in open, transparent environments where all citizens have the opportunity to provide input and to express their approval or disapproval of suggested actions. They do this through voting directly for proposed actions or by electing representatives who express their views. Either way it is the majority of the people who determine the proper course of action and not a single group or a single leader.
Autocratic or authoritarian societies have a leadership style that is characterized by individual control over all decisions with little or no input from other members of society. Leaders of autocratic societies, often pure dictatorships, usually make choices based on their own judgments.
This is in direct contrast to the basic principles of Democracy.
Gruber’s comments show an intentional, willful effort to undercut democracy. There are now at least three separate videos of Gruber expressing his interpretation about how the public was deceived by the Obama administration. He said, “This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.” He further said the “stupidity of the American voter was really, really critical to getting this thing to pass.”
In other words, if the American voters knew the truth, the majority would not have approved of the ACA. That implies that only a minority of Americans actually approve of the law, so that decision to pass it by the elected representatives was really against the views of the majority but rather in favor of the autocratic leaders. This is very dangerous to a freedom oriented Democratic society, where actions taken are supposed to benefit the majority.
The administration was neither truthful not transparent when they told Americans that they could keep their doctor, keep their current plan and that the ACA would reduce costs. The administration was less than truthful when they said that no new taxes would be levied on anyone with an annual income of less than $250,000. And it was intentional.
The truth is that 21 new taxes are included in the ACA act and at least one third of them will be paid by Americans earning less than $250,000. These taxes include taxes from the individual mandate tax, the employer mandate tax, the surtax on investment income, the excise tax on comprehensive insurance plans, the increase in the Medicare payroll tax, the medicine cabinet tax, the HSA withdrawal tax, the cap on spending accounts, the tax on medical device manufacturers, the reduction in medical itemized deductions, the indoor tanning tax, an increase in the excise tax on tobacco, the excise tax on charitable hospitals, the tax on innovative drug companies, the tax on health insurers, and the “black liquor” tax.
The Affordable Care Act is not the only area where the Administration has been less than truthful.
Corruption at the IRS appears to be prevalent and so far the American public has not been given the truth nor is the IRS being transparent. For years Congress has demanded to see emails between apparently corrupt IRS officials. Yet the IRS hides this information from the public and continues to fabricate reasons why they can’t be transparent.
American lives were lost during the 2012 attack on the embassy in Benghazi Libya. The Obama administration was less than truthful with the facts and continues to hide information from the American people.
The US has flourished, in part, because of our policy of truthfulness and transparency by our elected officials. In the few instances when this did not occur, Americans moved quickly to get at the truth. It is vitally important that the truth about key issues is revealed.
We do not have an authoritarian government. The Obama administration must be held accountable to help insure the future success of our country and to remove the dark cloud that has been hanging over our heads since Barack Obama was sworn into office mostly by promising things he knew he would never deliver. The deception and lack of transparency is not only a disgrace but a threat to our future.
When the newly elected Senators and members of the House of Representatives are sworn into office in January, the shift to a majority of Republicans will allow both houses of Congress to find the truth about a number of critical issues where there is currently no transparency. Perhaps then we will all know the truth.