The Corner

Gruber Backpedals on Obamacare Comments: Spoke ‘Off the Cuff,’ ‘Inappropriately’

MIT professor and Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber tried to extricate himself from the firestorm caused by his comments last year on Obamacare, calling his contention that American voters were too stupid to be told the truth about the law “off the cuff” and “inappropriate.”

A video from an academic conference last October showed a smug Gruber smiling about how the bill was deliberately “written in a tortured way” to ensure the Obamacare mandate would be scored as a penalty, not a tax. “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage,” he said. “Call it the stupidity of the American voter, or whatever. But basically, that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.”

MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow asked Gruber about those remarks on Tuesday. “The comments in the video were made at an academic conference, I was speaking off the cuff,” he said. “And I basically spoke inappropriately, and I regret having made those comments.”

But when pressed, the professor stood by those remarks. “Public policy that involves spending is typically less politically palatable than policy that involves doing things with the tax code,” Gruber said, arguing that it would have been better if the government had been able to just “give people money” to offset the cost of their health insurance.

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