Grubermania: the politics of 'awesome evilness'

Broadcast news is keeping up a two-week hard blackout on the Jonathan Gruber tapes, but CBS News posted a new Gruber video on their website Friday.  For a change, the architect of ObamaCare isn’t caught talking about the lies and misdirection used to get the program past the American people.  This time, he’s talking about how the people who disagree with his brilliant scheme are just plain evil.

“There’s larger principles at stake here, when the states are not just turning down covering the poor people, but turning down the federal stimulus that would come with that,” the great con artist explained, referring to the resistance of some states to the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion.  “They’re not just interested in covering poor people.  They’re willing to sacrifice billions of dollars in injections into their economy in order to punish poor people.  I mean, it really is just almost awesome in its evilness.”

It’s been a while since I read Dante, so I don’t remember which ring of the Inferno was reserved for those who refuse to take federal subsidies.  How does that stack up on the scale of “awesome evilness” against what ISIS does to its prisoners?

Although they don’t directly connect it to his new video comments, CBS recalls how one of the previous Gruber tapes showed him crowing that “the dirty little secret in Massachusetts is the feds paid for our bill,” because “Ted Kennedy and the smart people in Massachusetts basically figured out a way to rip off the feds for about $400 million a year.”  Gee, you don’t suppose that kind of scam might be one of the reasons honorable state governors and legislators decided not to plug themselves into the subsidy system, do you?  All of them mentioned their reluctance to get hooked on subsidies that might dwindle or vanish in the future, as the insolvent federal government decided to alter the terms of the deal.  They were also worried that even if the states’ share of Medicaid funding remained constant as a percentage, it could balloon into far more money than ObamaCare’s designers projected.  Since the great lesson of the Gruber Revelations is that ObamaCare’s designers were liars and their projections were deliberate frauds, that’s a very understandable concern.

Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, who was his state’s Secretary for Health and Hospitals before he was governor, said that one of the reasons he resisted the Medicaid expansion was because it would prompt a large number of people to move away from paid insurance and into welfare dependency, which would hurt the bottom line at hospitals because Medicaid reimbursement is low and slow compared to private insurance.  Hospital administrators thought moving uninsured people into Medicaid would be better than treating them without compensation, but Jindal warned that the movement of patients from private insurance into Medicaid would exceed the number of formerly uninsured patients who were now covered by the program.  He discussed this with the Washington Examiner in September:

“I told my hospitals I thought that [supporting Medicaid expansion] was a foolish, shortsighted, short-term position.  My message to hospitals was, ???For some of those who were uninsured who you now think you???ll get Medicaid payments, remember, you???re also, for every one of those, you???re also losing one person who was once paying commercial rates who is now paying Medicaid rates.’ What are states going to do when they???re budget is getting tight? When the federal government inevitably lowers the matching, or FMAP rate, states are going to cut provider rates. They already don???t pay 100 percent of the actual cost. They already cost shift to the private sector. It???s only going to get worse.

He continued, “So my message to the hospitals was, ???Be careful what you ask for, you???re going to end up trading away your commercial paid patients for more state paid, and you know what???s going to happen.???

And it’s not good for anyone if the deranged incentives of ObamaCare wipe out hospitals, something that has already begun happening.  So tell me, does Governor Jindal sound “awesomely evil,” or just a hell of a lot smarter and more honest than Jonathan Gruber and the rest of the ObamaCare scammers?

The Manichean worldview espoused by Gruber is a signature component of left-wing arrogance, in virtually every policy debate.  The notion that people who oppose some collectivist scheme are evil – either because they heartlessly serve wealthy special interests, or because they actively enjoy watching poor people suffer – runs through many a blockheaded argument.  It bubbles to the surface so frequently because it’s related to a core principle of socialism: the belief that compassion can only be expressed through centralized power and government spending.  This premise is indispensable to the Left; it shields them from a great deal of uncomfortable introspection about the value of lost liberty and the morality of compulsion.   It also helps them defend even the most absurdly broken Big Government programs to the death, since they believe privatizing anything is an expression of cruelty towards everyone who benefits from the compulsory generosity of the State.

If one accepts the premise that virtue is found only through compulsion from wise rulers, it follows that resistance to compulsory schemes is evil, and the resistance must be founded in either selfishness or outright cruelty.  People who think this way see little reason to understand or engage the arguments of their evil enemies, which is one reason they make so many incredibly stupid mistakes, like ObamaCare.  It’s also why they feel little shame about using deception to achieve their ends – why should evil people have anything to say about the fate of the nation?  Why give them information they could use to thwart the ambitions of the virtuous?

I mentioned at the outset that this particular Gruber video didn’t show him celebrating a deception, but actually he is, because ObamaCare was used as a smokescreen to conceal a vast Medicaid expansion that the American people would probably have rejected, if it had been presented honestly and debated vigorously.  Medicaid is not “health insurance.”  It has nothing to do withe the glorious technocratic utopia of super-cheap private insurance for all, purchased through a sophisticated online marketplace that would make eat its heart out, promised by Emperor Obama.

The media might be protecting the Emperor from Gruber’s toxic fallout, but Gruber himself isn’t having a very good month.  He’s been fired from lucrative consulting positions in North Carolina and Vermont, and House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) just announced he’ll be calling Mr. Stupid American Voters into hearings on December 9th for a little chin wag, along with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marily Tavenner:

???From the outset, the health law has been the poster child for this Administration???s broken transparency promises,??? Chairman Issa said in a statement. ???Americans were told if they liked their plans and doctors, they could keep them. They were told the individual mandate wasn???t a tax. None of these were true. Jonathan Gruber, one of ObamaCare???s chief architects, publicly lauded the ???lack of transparency??? that was necessary to pass the law and credited ???the stupidity of the American voter??? that allowed the Administration to mislead the public.

“CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner testified before our Committee that the Administration met its goals by enrolling 7.3 million individuals, however we now know that wasn???t the case. The numbers provided by CMS were deceptive and obscured the number of Americans running from exchange plans. The American people deserve honesty, transparency and respect from those who forced the federal government into their healthcare. I expect Mr. Gruber and Administrator Tavenner to testify publicly next month about the arrogance and deceptions surrounding the passage and implementation of ObamaCare.???

The book-cooking method Rep. Issa refers to is the deceptive use of dental plans to pump up the number of ObamaCare enrollees for talking-point purposes, which I wrote about yesterday.  Fraud is compulsion; bald-face lies used to trick the American people into accepting an insanely expensive government program is morally equivalent to robbing them at gunpoint.  One might say it’s almost awesome in its evilness.



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