by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor | John Locke Foundation
My newsletter last week catalogued the well-deserved fall of Jonathan Gruber.
Who? Exactly. Excuse this brief trip into the arcane recesses of American politics:
Last year, Jonathan Gruber was “one of the most respected economists in the world,” in the words of U.S. Senate majority leader Harry Reid on the Senate floor. He was cited favorably by then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He was praised by NPR and others for producing a comic book featuring himself as “superhero” to help simple Americans understand the complex Affordable Care Act of which he was an “architect.” He was paid handsomely by the Obama administration to help the legislation game the scoring system used by the Congressional Budget Office.
Then the nation learned of Gruber’s boasting and laughing about taking advantage of “stupid” Americans to get Obamacare passed through lies and subterfuge. The revelations not only upset them, but they exposed shocking, systemic deceit to force through a highly unpopular federal power grab.
But don’t worry if you didn’t know that over the past few days, the former “Mr. Mandate,” “key architect” of Obamacare, and toast of confiscatory Washington had been stripped of all his accolades such that
of course Gruber has now become a pariah. Obamacare advocates have suddenly discovered he couldn’t have had much to do with the ACA (as a Politico article begins, “Nobody much cared how much credit Jonathan Gruber took for Obamacare — until now”). No, see, he’s just a guy with an opinion, “like 300 million other Americans.” Pelosi even claims now she doesn’t know who he is.
At this point, it wouldn’t be surprising if Gruber’s pet parrots had heard it so much they were squawking throughout the house RAAWWK Gruber’s a nobody! Gruber’s a nobody!
You wouldn’t be alone, apparently. “I just heard about this,” said the president.
And no wonder; video nuggets of Gruber keep popping up. Take this one, for example, in which the Gruber tells of the president explaining to him how he needs to obfuscate the facts so the bill can pass — and Gruber delivers:
The problem is it’s a political nightmare, and people say “no, you can’t tax my benefits” … so what we did a lot in that room was think a lot about well how could we make this work? … And [Obama] is really a realistic guy. He was like, “look, I can’t just do this.” He said “it’s just not going to happen politically. The bill will not pass. How do we manage to get there through phase-ins and other things?” And we talked about it. He was just very interested in that topic.
By the way, that conversation reminds me of the president-elect (at the time) trying to pressure economist Christina Romer into pretending forcing people to pay for something else they don’t choose voluntarily — expensive, inefficient renewable energy — will have positive repercussions for the economy:
Energy was a particular obsession of the president-elect’s, and therefore a particular source of frustration. Week after week, [White House economic adviser Christina] Romer would march in with an estimate of the jobs all the investments in clean energy would produce; week after week, Obama would send her back to check the numbers. “I don’t get it,” he’d say. “We make these large-scale investments in infrastructure. What do you mean, there are no jobs?” But the numbers rarely budged.
— Excerpt (emphasis added) from the new book by Noam Scheiber, The Escape Artists: How Obama’s Team Fumbled the Recovery
*** Update, 6:15 p.m. ***
This guy, described by the president now as just “some adviser who never worked on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with,” used to be — as the president declared before a Brookings Institute audience touting his policies — not just one of “the brightest minds from academia and policy circles,” but also one from whom the president himself had “stolen ideas from, liberally,” citing Jon Gruber by name.
One last note about this nadir of American governance, not to put too fine a point on it:
The president, the Democrats, and the media trying to “disappear” Gruber means they are still acting from the belief everybody else is stupid.
That belief is ingrained in the “progressive” mindset.