Politics & Policy

Gruber’s Deception

There’s a reason the Left is recoiling from him.

In Washington, D.C. it is said that the cover-up is almost always worse than the crime. Certainly, the tortured attempts by supporters of Obamacare to explain away the comments of health analyst Jonathan Gruber — that the law only passed because of a “lack of transparency” that became a “huge political advantage” because of “the stupidity of the American voter” — are more preposterous than even the worst parts of Obamacare.

President Obama himself tried to dismiss Gruber on Sunday by claiming he was just “some adviser who never worked on our staff.” He insisted his comments are “not a reflection on the actual process that was run.”

Hmmm. Gruber visited the White House nearly twenty times, according to official visitor logs. The White House actively promoted his work on Obamacare and touted his testimony to Senate committees as “objective analysis.” The Washington Post reported that Gruber’s model of the law’s costs was “the coin of the realm” in the debate and “a very powerful tool for administration officials,” for which he as paid nearly $400,000 in taxpayer money.

In reality, an analysis of media coverage by The Weekly Standard concluded “an overwhelming number of the ostensibly independent statements or scores that were made or published in support of Obamacare . . . were traceable to the support of one man and his model. And that man was Jonathan Gruber, who was secretly under contract with the Obama administration.”

This is serious. There have been flim-flam attempts to sell legislation in the past — the Left is now trying to distract attention from Gruber’s comments by citing passage of the Bush administration’s Medicare prescription-drug benefit in 2003. But there are some key differences. Despite its many shortcomings, the Bush prescription-drug benefit wound up being that rare government program that wound up costing substantially less than the predictions that were made at the time of its passage. And it didn’t involve the sweeping stranglehold on one-sixth of the nation’s economy that Obamacare entailed.

Democrats are now recoiling from efforts to get them to comment on Gruber the way Dracula recoils from a cross. Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, flabbergasted reporters last week. “I don’t know who he is,” Pelosi said of Gruber. “He didn’t help write our bill.” But she herself had touted his analysis on her website in at least seven places, praised him at congressional meetings, and opened doors to him on Capitol Hill. Video has surfaced of her in 2009 praising “Jonathan Gruber of MIT’s analysis of what the comparison is to the status quo versus what will happen in our bill.”

Faced with these facts, Drew Hammill, a Pelosi spokesman, told the Washington Post that “she said she doesn’t ‘know who he is,’ not that she’s never heard of him.”

Enough. We are now being subjected to what Springer’s Blog calls “Gruberish,” which it defines as “any bewildering deluge of falsehoods designed to confound an audience based on the speaker’s awareness that the truth must be concealed by any means necessary.”

The new Congress just elected by the American people should peel back this Gruberish. It should launch hearings into just how the Congressional Budget Office was manipulated to provide misleading cost figures for Obamacare, even as the GOP appoints a new CBO director who can bolster confidence in the office. It can pick up on an idea promoted by Representative Fred Upton of Michigan that Congress should send President Obama a simple bill of just a few lines codifying his frequently repeated pledge that “if you like your health-care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan, period.” Democrats may have to block it through a Senate filibuster, but the exercise and accompanying debate would be illuminating.

Finally, the media should be shamed into looking more carefully into the bona fides and honesty of the “outside experts” that are trotted out in support of dubious schemes like Obamacare. It should be embarrassing to national media outlets that the growing number of Gruber videos should have been unearthed by a Pennsylvania blogger.

It turns out that far from being disinterested analysts, “outside experts” brought in by government are often highly compensated players whose statements easily slide into propaganda. Gruber supplemented his $400,000 payments from the Obama administration with some $2 million in contracts helping states set up health-care exchanges, much as Mike Leavitt, a former Health and Human Services secretary and adviser to Mitt Romney, did on the Republican side. But as Byron York of the Washington Examiner notes, Jonathan Gruber is a special case worthy of special attention: “He is, by his own account, a man who intentionally deceived the public in order to pass a measure from which he stood to profit handsomely.”

That’s why liberals are scrambling to disassociate themselves from Gruber while at the same time denying the realities of Obamacare’s failures. And that’s precisely why the cover-up of Jonathan Gruber’s remarks — by President Obama, Representative Pelosi, and others — can’t be allowed to stand and must be exposed.

— John Fund is national-affairs correspondent for NRO.


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