Americans don't care if other Americans are insured, Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber says in a video from 2010 that's getting renewed attention: They just care about how much their policies are going to cost them.
"Barack Obama's not a stupid man, OK?" Gruber, a MIT economist, said at a March 11, 2010, speech
at the College of the Holy Cross. "He knew when he was running for president that, quite frankly, the American public doesn't actually care that much about the uninsured.
"What the American public cares about is costs. And that's why even though the bill that they made is 90 percent health insurance coverage and 10 percent about cost control, all you ever hear people talk about is cost control."
The video marks the fourth speech of Gruber's that's getting attention as another open-enrollment period starts Sunday for healthcare exchange policies, reports CNN
, and as Republicans — who could push for a repeal of the controversial law — prepare to take over the Senate come January.
The fourth video doesn't contain some of Gruber's more blunt statements about how those who pushed the bill relied on voters' "stupidity" to create the law and get it passed.
However, he suggests that Obamacare proponents used the American public's concern about costs to gain support of the reform act, which was passed in 2010.
"The only way we're going to stop our country from being a latter-day Roman Empire and falling under its own weight is getting control of the growth rate of healthcare costs," Gruber told the students at the March 2010 talk. "The problem is we don't know how."
The problem, Gruber said, is that doctors are being paid "enormously high" salaries and instead of being "middle-class guys like providers," they "live in the Hamptons, the Cape, they're like investment bankers."
The Obama administration and key Democrats, though, are downplaying the Gruber videos and, to some degree, even the economist's role in crafting Obamacare.
"The process associated with writing and passing and implementing the Affordable Care Act has been extraordinarily transparent," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
Earnest was referring to Gruber's comments from a 2013 University of Pennsylvania panel, in which he claimed "a lack of transparency was a huge political advantage for the president."
Instead, Earnest told CNN, "it is Republicans who have been less than forthright and transparent about what their proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act would do in terms of the choices that are available to middle-class families."
He also noted that "there is at least one very prominent Republican who campaigned for re-election saying that he would repeal the Affordable Care Act, but yet keep in place the Affordable Care Act marketplace that has operated very successfully in his state."
Earnest did not name that lawmaker, and said he disagrees "vigorously" with Gruber's references to the "stupidity of the American voter."
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, said Thursday that not only did she not know who Gruber is, she claimed that "he didn't help write our bill."
But, CNN notes, a 2009 Washington Post story says Pelosi at that time had cited Gruber's work and approved of it.
Ironically, in recent weeks, the Obama administration has said the efforts to cut costs have been working.
"Across the board, we have now held down healthcare price inflation to the lowest rate in 50 years," Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said in September.
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