Obamacare architect Jon Gruber has confessions for you. “I mean,” he says, “this bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies.” And another, “If you had a law which said healthy people are gonna pay in, you made explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed.”
More: “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.” Not finished yet, “Call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.” And finally, “Yeah, there’s things I wish I could change, but I’d rather have this law than not.”
Got that? Obamacare's double-cross didn't begin or end with President Obama’s “if you like your plan, you can keep it” promise. Instead, misdirection was baked into the bill.
Just who is Jon Gruber? He’s an MIT economics professor. He was a key consultant, and many say, the architect of Obamacare. During congressional debate on the bill, Gruber claimed to be an objective analyst scoring the legislation in favor of the Obama administration. Later, the public learned he was on the Obama administration payroll through a $400,000 contract with the Department of Health and Human Services.
The New York Times reported Gruber helped outline the basic principles of Obamacare with executive branch officials, then worked with legislative staff to draft specific language.
Gruber’s comments call to mind the so-called “noble lie” — Plato's idea that lies are justifiable to advance what a society’s rulers believe to be the common good. During the Bush administration, liberals were obsessed with the philosopher Leo Strauss and alleged neoconservative celebration of the “noble lie.” Yet no Bush administration insider ever said anything close to what Gruber just admitted.
There are three major (and obvious) problems with the noble lie theory. First, it’s based on a lie. Second, it is anti-democratic. Government of the people, for the people, and by the people, fails when those entrusted to speak for the people believe dishonesty is noble so long as it’s for what they believe are the right reasons.
Third, the noble lie is a kissing cousin of the “fatal conceit” of socialism — that there is an elite class of society capable of making decisions for us rather than relying on open, honest debate and local decisions.
American voters have grown accustomed to lies and stretched-truths in campaigns from both political parties and third-party groups across the ideological spectrum. Even in the context of daily governance, we are skeptical of politicians' statements. We expect spin. But Gruber’s confession goes beyond spin. He lays bare the knowing manipulations that propelled Obamacare to the legislative finish line.
Gruber also shows disdain for American voters who don’t sip lattes in faculty lounges, “call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever,” he flippantly says.
Democracy requires an informed citizenry. As Gruber explained, however, Obamacare was crafted to, first, fool the Congressional Budget Office into scoring the bill as not a tax increase. If the president and congressional leaders can successfully draft legislation to conceal their intent from the experts at CBO — the same conclusions that the press parrots to the public — how can anyone attribute success of that strategy to “the stupidity of the American people”?
Most Americans don’t have the time to carefully parse through poorly drafted legislation winding its way through Congress, let alone time to read a 2,700 word bill for which even then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi admitted, “We have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it.”
Indeed, as a Republic, that's why we elect representatives to Congress. Because normal Americans work real jobs and raise families. When choosing between deciphering opaque legislation or coaching T-ball, they choose T-ball.
The public is merely the final consumer of information. They trust that there will be at least a modicum of transparency in government. They expect Congress to properly draft and read bills, CBO to incisively analyze and score them and, finally, for the press to aggressively check the facts they report.
This is how freedoms works. Societies obsessed by politics and the consequences of changes in governmental power lean authoritarian. Americans trust they can disengage from the minutiae of politics because life in a free society does not depend on who’s in charge of government. But as government grows and people like Gruber are put in charge of key initiatives and institutions, the need to read the fine print also grows.
His comments are Exhibit A for why Americans hate Washington and must always be on the lookout for hide-the-ball liberalism.
Jay Barnes is an attorney and state legislator from Jefferson City, Mo. A conservative Republican, Jay previously worked as a speechwriter for former Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt and as a reporter for Newsmax magazine. His opinion pieces have been published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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