Kyle Wingfield

Political commentary and opinion from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's conservative blogger

Opinion: Obamacare's architects really do think you're stupid


Feeling, "stupid," my fellow "American voter"? If not, perhaps you just aren't in the proper Democratic frame of mind, because that's how they think of us.

In this case, by "they" I mean Obamacare's architects. It turns out, one of the main ones, Jonathan Gruber, admitted as much during a conference last year:

Here's a transcript of the relevant portion of this clip:

"This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure (the Congressional Budget Office) did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. OK? So it's written to do that. In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which said healthy people are going to pay in -- you made explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money -- it would not have passed. OK? Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to get the thing to pass. Look, I wish … we could make it all transparent, but I'd rather have this law than not."

This clip is obviously part of a longer panel discussion at the conference, but it doesn't leave much to the imagination or interpretation. The video confirms so much of what Obamacare's critics have said about the law, it's as if a conservative body snatcher infiltrated Gruber's body and began speaking through his mouth:

1. The gimmicky, dishonest way the bill was written to avoid a straight-forward, honest scoring from the CBO.

2. The way the bill was sold in the legislative process as anything but a tax and then defended in court as a tax, a flimsy argument Chief Justice John Roberts actually bought for some unknown reason.

3. The way the bill was sold as a benefit to many, when in fact it was designed to redistribute money from many (not necessarily from "the rich" but instead the healthy) to the few.

4. The bill would not have passed if sold honestly on its actual merits.

5. The blatant way the Obama administration depended on the public to buy its false premises -- what Gruber calls "the stupidity of the American voter."

6. The come-hell-or-high-water way the "most transparent administration in history" set out to get the bill passed, no matter how much opacity, trickery, gimmickry and dishonesty that required.

Nancy Pelosi was right: They really did have to pass the bill for everyone to find out what was in it.

Gruber's admission about the administration's deceptive tactics is particularly interesting, as Peter Suderman writes at Reason.com , in light of the legal argument soon to hit the Supreme Court about subsidies on the federal exchanges:

" In a 2012 video unearthed this summer , Gruber said explicitly that the tax credits to offset coverage costs were conditioned on state participation in the law's exchanges -- a contention that the administration denies, and is at the heart of a legal challenge on its way to the Supreme Court. 

"Gruber, who by 2014 was making vehement arguments in support of the administration's position, said that in the video he misspoke. That excuse was hard to believe. For one thing, he elaborated on the argument at length, and for another, a second recording surfaced soon after in which he said almost the exact same thing. 

"It's even harder to believe now that he has admitted that he thinks it's fine to mislead people if doing so bolsters the policy goals he favors." (link original)

Again, none of this comes as a surprise to those of us who have been pointing out such sleights-of-hand since before Obamacare became law. But by now, anyone still defending the law as pure and good and righteous probably wouldn't change their minds if a tape surfaced of Obama himself saying, "We (bleeping) lied to you (bleeping) gullible, liberal (bleepers) and there's not a (bleeping) thing you can (bleeping) do about it. (Bleepers.)"

Which must explain why Gruber felt comfortable enough to make such a bald-faced admission in public; he knew nothing would come of it.


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About the Author

Kyle Wingfield joined the AJC in 2009. He is a native of Dalton and a graduate of the University of Georgia.