Tags: Barack Obama | Healthcare Reform | jonathan gruber | obamacare | testify | congress

HHS to Rep. Issa: Keep Jonathan Gruber Away From Us

By    |   Friday, 05 Dec 2014 07:44 PM

Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber, who embarrassed Democrats by calling American voters stupid in a recently uncovered video, is so toxic to the administration he once worked for that officials want him out of sight when they testify on Capitol Hill next week, Politico reports.

Rep. Darrell Issa has scheduled Gruber and Marilyn Tavenner, head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, to appear together on Tuesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, although the two will be discussing different subjects.

That pairing has drawn repeated objections from the Obama administration, Politico reports, citing a letter to Issa, committee chairman and California Republican, from an official at Tavenner's parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services.

"I am writing to reiterate the request made to your staff regarding the structure of the hearing," says the letter, which claims that Tavenner should not have to sit with the likes of Gruber — now a private citizen — on Tuesday.

"Executive Branch officials are almost always afforded an opportunity to testify on a panel either alone or with other government witnesses,” says the letter.

Gruber, an MIT economist, was hired by the administration to help design the health care overhaul championed by President Barack Obama. The Affordable Care Act became law in 2010 without a single Republican vote, and is still a target of court challenges and congressional efforts to repeal parts or all of the statute's various mandates and taxes.

Last month video surfaced of Gruber, who made millions consulting on Obamacare, telling fellow academics in 2013:

"This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] did not score the [health insurance mandate] as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies."

He also said: "Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. Call it the stupidity of the America voter, or whatever."

The video caused a firestorm that had top Democrats and White House officials fleeing in the opposite direction, and scrambling to downplay Gruber's pivotal role in the law's creation.

The damaging publicity cost Gruber a lucrative health care consulting job for the state of Vermont and has led to him being called before Congress to explain himself.

Gruber apologized for the remarks, which became material for topical broadcast comedians including Jon Stewart and Bill Maher, and energized opponents of the law.

A spokeswoman for Issa told Politico that the committee is considering the HHS request for separate hearings.

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Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber, who embarrassed Democrats by calling American voters stupid in a recently uncovered video, is so toxic to the administration he once worked for that officials want him out of sight when they testify on Capitol Hill next week, Politico reports.
jonathan gruber, obamacare, testify, congress
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2014-44-05
Friday, 05 Dec 2014 07:44 PM
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