The recently uncovered comments of MIT professor Jonathan Gruber deriding the intelligence of the American voter and bragging that deception helped pass the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare as it’s more popularly known, have prompted outrage from many conservatives and Republicans.
In 2013, Gruber said, “If you had a law which said healthy people are going to pay in—you’ve made explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed. … Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, you know, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass.”
Gruber made similar comments elsewhere. In 2012, he said a “basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter” enabled Obama and congressional Democrats to include in Obamacare the “Cadillac Tax” on expensive health care plans, and in 2013, he said “the American people are too stupid to understand” how a tax on insurers gets passed along through higher premiums.
Gruber was an instrumental part of the effort by congressional Democrats and the Obama administration to pass the ACA. Despite recent Democratic attempts to suggest Gruber played little role in designing and promoting Obamacare, the fact is Gruber’s fingerprints are all over the law.
Start with the fact he was a “key architect” of Romneycare, according to reporter Sam Stein of The Huffington Post, the Massachusetts health care reform law on which Obamacare was largely based. The Obama administration then hired Gruber to provide economic analysis of its health care reform plan and the Congressional Budget Office used his information to determine the budget impact.
In addition, according to a Politico story quoting Obama administration “car czar” Steven Rattner, Gruber was the administration’s “guru on health care” and “an important figure in helping to put Obamacare together.”
Gruber has since been paid handsomely by several states to advise them on implementing Obamacare, a total of more than $5 million.
So, despite President Obama’s recent claim Gruber was just “some advisor who never worked on our staff,” it’s obvious the professor played a central role in Obamacare’s design, passage, and implementation.
But although there are a variety of reasons to be outraged at Gruber’s comments, conservatives should take a breath and realize they’re probably not the ones Gruber was calling stupid and ignorant.
So who was Gruber referring to?
The people who fit Gruber’s description are the Democratic base, independents who voted for Obama and the congressional Democrats in 2008, and the journalists, think-tank denizens, and others who were and remain reliable defenders of Obamacare and the administration’s policies.
Consider who was actually fooled by the promises about lower premiums, keeping your plan and your doctor, deficit reduction, and other key claims regarding Obamacare. It sure wasn’t Republicans or conservatives, most of whom have consistently seen through the lies Gruber and others offered in support of Obamacare.
No, the people who bought into the scam (and forcibly took the rest of us along with them) were the Democratic base and a large number of independents who trusted Obama and his administration. They believed the Democrats were telling the truth when Republicans challenged their claims about Obamacare. They were wrong.
You’ve never heard of a swindler insulting the intelligence of people who didn’t fall for his scam, only the people who did. Once you recognize this, it’s clear who should and who shouldn’t feel insulted by Gruber’s comments about the stupidity of the American voter.
It will be interesting to see how many of these true believers in Obamacare recognize they were conned and insulted and learn from the experience. They’ve had a lot of chances to learn, but once again, they fell for the same old scam.
Sean Parnell (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a research fellow and the managing editor of Health Care News at The Heartland Institute.