Obamacare supporters like to argue that legal challenges over the law’s language about who qualifies for subsidies and who doesn’t are much ado about nothing — just  a drafting error in Obamacare. Uh, no, says a key architect of the federal takeover of health insurance/health care delivery. The Daily Caller has the story. 

But Jonathan Gruber, an economics professor at MIT who worked closely with the Obama administration to create and draft the health-care law, said as far back as 2012 that states that didn’t step up to make their own exchanges wouldn’t be able to offer premium subsidies.

“In the law, it says if the states don’t provide [exchanges], the federal backstop will,” Gruber said in a newly unearthed 2012 presentation. “The federal government has been sort of slow in putting out its backstop, I think partly because they want to sort of squeeze the states to do it. I think what’s important to remember politically about this, is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits.”

Gruber’s argument is important: the federal government wants to pressure states into building their exchanges, or they’ll be the ones responsible for keeping subsidies away from their constituents.

“But your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying to your citizens, you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges, and that they’ll do it. But you know, once again, the politics can get ugly around this.”

Here’s what I keep wondering: Why isn’t the Obama administration — and other Obamacare supporters — arguing that this is the problem of the 36 states that didn’t set up an exchange? North Carolina is one of the 36. The answer? Because making that argument would focus people on the real costs of Obamacare and that is exactly what supporters do not want you to do.

For the real Obamacare story, follow JLF’s health and human services policy analyst Katherine Restrepo. You can sign up for her free weekly newsletter.