The Corner

Yes, Jonathan Gruber Is an Obamacare Architect

You probably remember the videos that surfaced last year of MIT economist Jonathan Gruber joking about how the Affordable Care Act’s passage was made possible by the stupidity of the American voter and the deception of lawmakers in Congress.

Democrats spent a lot of energy distancing themselves from Gruber: Nancy Pelosi, for instance, started talking about how she didn’t know who he was and “he didn’t help write our bill.” Never mind that she had often praised his work in the past and used it to push for the bill’s passage. The White House tried to distance itself, too — never mind also that Gruber received $400,000 from the federal government for his work on what would become Obamacare.

Now the Wall Street Journal has obtained thousands of pages of e-mails showing that, indeed, Gruber worked very closely with lawmakers on the health care law — and even helped pro-Obamacare pundits sell the law to the American people:

The emails, provided by the House Oversight Committee to The Wall Street Journal, cover messages Mr. Gruber sent from January 2009 through March 2010. Committee staffers said they worked with MIT to obtain the 20,000 pages of emails. . . . 

The emails show frequent consultations between Mr. Gruber and top Obama administration staffers and advisers in the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services on the Affordable Care Act. They show he informed HHS about interviews with reporters and discussions with lawmakers, and he consulted with HHS about how to publicly describe his role. . . . 

“His proximity to HHS and the White House was a whole lot tighter than they admitted,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah), chairman of the House oversight committee. . . . 

Meaghan Smith, an HHS spokeswoman, said: “As has been previously reported, Mr. Gruber was a widely used economic modeler for ad­min­i­stra­tions and state governments run by both parties—both before and after the Affordable Care Act was passed. These emails only echo old news.” . . .

The emails show Mr. Gruber was in touch with key advisers such as Peter Orszag, who was director of the Office of Management and Budget, an arm of the White House that oversaw federal programs.

He was also in contact with Jason Furman, an economic adviser to the president, and Ezekiel Emanuel, who was then a special adviser for health policy at OMB. . . .

Mr. Gruber also informed HHS about interviews he had with health policy reporters such as Ezra Klein, previously of the Washington Post and now with Vox Media. In a November 2009 email, Mr. Gruber let a top HHS official know the conversation went well and the story would post soon.

Read the whole thing here.

Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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