The Other Gruber Gaffe Matters More

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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As you probably know, ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber has come under fire for his admission that the health care law “was written in a tortured way to make sure the CBO did not score the mandate as taxes,” and for his confession that “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically — call it the stupidity of the America voter, or whatever” that got the bill passed.

This was a classic Washington “gaffe,” meaning that he got busted for revealing what he really believed. Gruber then tried to justify his remarks, noting that they had been said at an academic conference, where, presumably, the rubes wouldn’t ever hear about his admission. This is presumably like the old joke about making fun of the Amish (it’s okay, since they’ll never know). Eventually, Gruber apologized, explaining that he “spoke inappropriately” — which, when you think of it, doesn’t mean he now thinks that what he said was incorrect — just that it was stupid.

When one considers the enormity of this whole thing — the fact that an architect of ObamaCare would publicly confess that the only way it passed was by deceiving the public — this “gaffe” has gotten relatively little attention. But interestingly, I’m about to argue that there is another Gruber gaffe, which has gotten even less attention, and yet is arguably much more significant.

First, some context. The Supreme Court recently agreed to hear King v. Burwell, a challenge to ObamaCare’s Federal subsidies. In short, as the law is written, citizens of states that declined to create their own exchanges are not eligible for tax credits. But defenders of ObamaCare are now charging that this was simply “typo,” and that Congress always intended to cover all customers of the exchanges.

Jonathan Gruber has been making this case. And yet, as Dave Weigel notes,

at a January 2012 symposium, Gruber seemed to be making the conservatives’ argument. ‘What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits—but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill,’ said Gruber. ‘So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country.’

As I noted above, neither Gruber gaffe has gotten the attention it deserves from the mainstream media. Kudos to Morning Joe for tackling it, though. And this morning, for example, I got to make the point that the “gaffe” about the exchanges was the more important of the two, inasmuch as it clearly undermines the “typo” argument which will be used to buttress the Obama Administration’s case in a Supreme Court case which could dramatically undermine the law.


Matt K. Lewis