The Spectacle Blog

Architect of Obamacare Says Subsidies Were Only Intended for State Exchanges

By on 7.25.14 | 2:55PM

Earlier this week, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the subsidies dispensed by the IRS through Obamacare's federal exchanges were illegal. As the debate raged through the wonk blogs, the left tried to downplay the significance of the case. One of their staple talking points was asking members of the conservative media to find an example of anyone saying that the subsidies were supposed to be limited to state exchanges. Well, over at Reason, an example has been found.

Last night, video surfaced of Johnathan Gruber undermining the entire premise of the government's argument for Obamacare. First, who is Gruber? Reason explains his role:

Jonathan Gruber, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist who helped design the Massachusetts health law that was the model for Obamacare, was a key influence on the creation of the federal health law. He was widely quoted in the media. During the crafting of the law, the Obama administration brought him on for consultation because of his expertise. He was paid almost $400,000 to consult with the administration on the law. And he has claimed to have written part of the legislation, the section dealing with small business tax credits.

Gruber was one of the architects and authors of the Affordable Care Act, now the monstrosity known as the Obamacare. Last night, a video surfaced courtesy of the researchers at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. It shows Gruber speaking at a conference, and is devastating to those who oppose the court’s decision. In a transcript posted by Reason,Gruber says:

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. 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. I hope that that's a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges. But, you know, once again the politics can get ugly around this. [emphasis added]

His intentions seem pretty clear, no? Well, let the backtracking begin. The first wonk to retreat was Vox's Ezra Klein, whose daftness on this issue knows no bounds. Showing a stunning lack of awareness as a journalist, he tweeted out:

I interviewed him dozens of times in this period and never heard anything like this.

Really? A primary architect of a law who was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to craft and sell a bill did not tell you about its drawbacks? We don't need a chart to figure this one out: he lied.

In a series of updates on the post, Reason reached out to the Cato Institute's Michael Cannon, who filed the Halbig suit. He said:

I don’t mean to overstate the importance of this revelation. Gruber acknowledging this feature of the law is not direct evidence of congressional intent. But Gruber is probably the most influential private citizen/government contractor involved in that legislative process. He was in the room with the people who crafted this bill.

Gruber himself is running with his tail between his legs from the statement:

I honestly don’t remember why I said that. I was speaking off-the-cuff. It was just a mistake. People make mistakes. Congress made a mistake drafting the law and I made a mistake talking about it.

Head for the hills, Gruber. The damage has been done. Still, the left isn't backing down. The new talking point? In summation, it amounts to: “Nuh-uh, find someone else.” Suddenly, those goals posts have gone from right in front of me to a very distant point on the horizon.

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