WASHINGTON – The usually pro-Obama US media ignored the explosive story of MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber, a highly paid consultant who helped draft the now infamous Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Gruber was caught on camera describing at a conference the process that led to the passing of the law as a masterpiece of deception, made possible by the fact that Americans are “stupid”, and do not know much about economics.
This was bad enough. But now it turns out that Gruber elaborated on this theme of the need to deceive the voters several times. There are now at least six separate videos in which the eminent MIT professor takes pride in the fact that he helped craft a law that was passed only because its content was wilfully misrepresented.
Obfuscation is great
And so we have the professor extolling the virtues of obfuscation and deception. All of this, of course, for a good cause. This is a good law, he argues. But most voters would not have liked it, had it been presented for what it is: a tax paid by the well to do in order to subsidize health care insurance for the poor.
The media ignored the story
As I said, at the beginning the mostly liberal US media ignored Gruber’s remarks. But now it is impossible to pretend that his considerations have no value. We know that he was intimately involved in the entire process. He helped craft the legislation. He was there.
And yet the administration, with the complicity of most TV networks and main newspapers is foolishly trying to say that Gruber is just a nobody; and therefore what he says is irrelevant.
Gruber was a minor player
President Obama said that Gruber was a lowly consultant who was not “on the team” and who had minimal involvement. Gruber may say stupid things –said Obama at a press conference– but they are absolutely not shared by anybody in the administration.
Really? Well, the record does not support the assertion that Gruber was a minor aide, with no impact on the process. Gruber was paid $ 400,000 by the Federal Government for his consulting services in relation to health care reform, (incidentally $ 400,000 is exactly the annual salary of the president of the United States).
Then, on the basis of his expertise on all matters pertaining to the new law, he was hired by several state governments to help them with the implementation. And he made plenty more money selling his services. Not bad for a nobody.
Gruber was there
Given all this, Obama’s attempts to claim that Gruber was just an insignificant helper who does not speak for the administration sound really lame and most insincere.
Of course, Gruber was not “technically” part of the government. But he was hired as a recognized health care expert and he soon became an insider. He got to see what was going on, and in a significant measure he helped shape the law itself.
Given his prominent role, to hear him say, repeatedly, that the whole process leading to the passing of the Affordable care Act was characterized by willful deception looks very bad, because we assume that he knows what he is talking about.
All this makes Obama look bad.
Bad law, sold through deception
Of course, if the law had worked very well, with better care and lower costs for all Americans, then it would be relatively easy to ignore Gruber. “Sure enough, some unorthodox tactics were used. (This is always the case, anyway). But this is a good law, the people like it, and this is what counts.”
Well, no. This turned out to be a bad deal. Of course millions of Americans, those who are now entitled to subsidized insurance, have gained. Hard to be against a government paid (funded by tax payers, mind you) new entitlement.
Most Americans do not like it
But millions of others, all those who were told about huge savings and better care, are not happy. Their premiums are higher, their deductibles have increased. In other words, they are worse off. All opinion polls indicate that Obamacare is very unpopular.
And in the middle of all this, when the public shows unhappiness, after the Democrats got severely beaten in the recent mid-term elections, we have the Jonathan Gruber story. And here is what most people probably have concluded: “We were deceived”.
The fact that the administration is trying its best at damage limitation by misrepresenting Gruber’s real role in the process leading to the passing of the law makes all this even worse. There are records, ample records, indicating that Gruber was there, helping out. And he was paid very well for his services.
He may be alone saying in public that it was all about deception, but most Americans now believe that he is finally telling the truth.
Bad news for Obama
All in all, bad news for Obama. Please do remember that this –the Affordable Care Act, universally known as Obamacare– was supposed to be his main political achievement.
And instead what do we get? We get a flawed law produced by an administration run by incompetent technocrats who thought they knew how all this would work out and were proven wrong. To make things worse, they lied to the public in order to get support, and now –against all evidence– they lie about having lied.
In case you forgot, when Barack Obama was elected in 2008 he was supposed to usher America into a new era of unity, cooperation and bold, young ideas. Remember the slogans? It was all about “Hope and Change”; and “Yes, We Can”.
Well, it did not turn out that way.