Submitted For Your Approval…
(This is a guest post from our very own Major Zed!)
Reason (among others) has an article about MIT economist Jonathan Gruber‘s unintentionally revealing comments about the design and wording of the Affordable Care Act, made at a 2013 health economics conference. (This is not to be confused with the other Gruber video about subsidies, a topic which was covered already in OT. Jim Heffman links to this new video, but there has been no response to his post.)
Specifically, Gruber said:
“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO [Congressional Budget Office] scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that. In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed… Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass….Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”
(The article includes the 53-second video clip.)
I had a hard time finding liberal web sites defending Gruber on this. ThinkProgress.org is silent. Obamacare Facts defends Gruber, saying that the comment is taken out of context and posting a video of him explaining his comments in an MSNBC inteview:
“Public policy that involves spending is less politically palatable than policy that is done through the tax code… [so] it was done through the tax code. That’s the only point I was making.”
This response seems rather mendacious to me, given the first sentence of the previous quote. Not only is it important to do it through the tax code, but apparently it is also important to hide the fact that it is being done through the tax code. The remaining sentences are clear in meaning: if a law is expected to be objectionable to the voting public, then it has a better chance of being passed if it remains misunderstood. Or, to further quote the Obamacare Facts article, “the truth about politics is that sometimes grey area marketing wins out over total qualified truth.” This is not a new insight, but it seems to me that such an admission – that this principle was deliberately applied to the ACA – is newsworthy. The mainstream media apparently do not agree.
Does the end (ACA) really justify the means (perpetrating fraud on the American voters)? Is this sort of behavior, which often leads to sanctions including jail time when it occurs in the private sector, consistent with the moral high ground (BSDI is not a good excuse) usually assumed by liberal activism?
Here is my question to ACA supporters and fellow-travelers of Team Obama, the most transparent administration ever: How does this admission make you feel?
(c) Indifferent or mixed emotions
(e) Exultant (way to get the job done, team!)
Edit: And now the distancing begins.