Former Obama senior adviser David Axelrod is hedging his comments on Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber, calling the economist’s contributions to the health-care law “valuable.”
Gruber, of course, is the embattled MIT professor who has been caught on tape calling the American public “stupid,” praising the “lack of transparency” that made it possible to pass Obamacare and even discussing the White House’s strategy to hide some unpopular provisions in the law from the public.
Axelrod came out Sunday and called Gruber himself “stupid” for making the offensive comments in the first place. But he took to Twitter again on Monday to clarify that while it was “stupid” of Gruber to make incendiary comments, his “contributions to the ACA” were beneficial. (RELATED: David Axelrod Calls Gruber ‘Stupid’)
One additional note on Gruber: His contributions to the ACA, like Gov. Romney's MA plan, were valuable. His throwaway quips were offensive.
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) November 17, 2014
The Department of Health and Human Services paid Gruber close to $400,000 for consulting services on the Affordable Care Act, including modeling of the costs of the law. The MIT professor was also part of a strategy session with President Obama and Axelrod himself in 2009 about how to sell the redistributive effects of Obamacare — and specifically its Cadillac tax on high-value health plans, a political dud — to the public.
Those contributions, according to Axelrod, are still valuable — even though Gruber himself has admitted it’s the “lack of transparency” in Obamacare’s passage that helped push the law through Congress.
Axelrod’s endorsement of Gruber’s contributions — and his acknowledgement that Gruber did contribute to Obamacare — is a bit of a departure for high-level Obama administration officials, past or present. President Obama brushed Gruber aside on Sunday as merely “an adviser who was never on our staff,” attempting to downplay Gruber’s contributions to Obamacare and its passage.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, then-Speaker of the House, has pretended not to know who Gruber is — although she praised him by name in the past. And former HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who was leading the push for health reform while Gruber was contracting with the agency, has refused to comment on the issue.