Jonathan Gruber is apparently a man of contradictions. He told a congressional committee last week that he “did not write any part of the Affordable Care Act.” He was asked at the hearing why he had claimed in 2012 that he did write part of the law. According to Peter Suderman, writing in Reason, Gruber replied “that it was ‘an effort to seem more important than I was,’ and that he was ‘speaking glibly.’” Video evidence of Gruber’s glibbery keeps stacking up in the wake of his sworn testimony. He made the same “glib” claim at least twice in 2010 and again in 2012. In those videos, Gruber seemed pleased to issue disclaimers to his econ classes at MIT and other audiences that he “helped write” the ACA (Obamacare). From Suderman:
“There is no way to reconcile his multiple past statements with the statements he made this week while under oath. Either Gruber spent two years lying about his role in writing the law, or he was lying this week in his sworn congressional testimony.”
Now, Gruber has been subpoenaed again by the House Oversight Committee, this time in relation to his work and the income he earned as an Obamacare advisor. However, the subpoena covers all documents and exchanges with government employees, including work product, the results of economic model simulations, and any communications related to contracts and the funding of his research. Poor Gruber is in hot water. Lying to Congress, if that charge were pressed, could earn him up to five years in prison.
Of greater importance is that he very likely furnished the administration, as the law was being drafted, with economic projections showing that some existing private health plans would be cancelled. In his testimony last week, he admitted that his model simulations showed as much. Of course, President Obama was quite glib in his repeated assertions that “if you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan.” From Reason:
“Shouldn’t that mean that Gruber knew that administration’s repeated promises that those who like their health plans could keep their plans under the law weren’t true?
Gruber was asked about the promise…. ‘I interpreted the administration’s comments as saying that for the vast majority of Americans the law would not affect the productive health insurance arrangements that they have,’ he said. ‘I did not see a problem with the administration’s statement.’
Of course he didn’t. Gruber is, after all, someone who argued that ‘lack of transparency’ was key to passing the health law.”
In fact, on the question of lost coverage, Gruber’s own comic book on the ACA made the same assurances as the Administration. See the frame at the top of this post! More contradiction.
Another crucial point is that Gruber claimed to have written the part of the ACA related to state health insurance exchanges. He stated on multiple occasions (captured on video) that the federal health insurance subsidies created by the ACA were intended as incentives for states to create their own exchanges. The “plain language of the law” is consistent with that claim; it is explicit in providing for subsidies only when a policy is purchased through a state exchange, not a federal exchange. Next year, the Supreme Court will hear the case King vs. Burwell, which turns upon whether the law itself disqualifies ACA insurance buyers in 36 states from collecting federal subsidies. Gruber’s videos appear to be quite damaging to the government’s case.