As has happened with many other disastrous events in his Presidency, the President just heard this weekend that Jonathan Gruber made some strange comments about his involvement with Obamacare that were caught on tape. He was reading the Sunday New York Times for the theater reviews and there it was. And, America, it was most certainly the first time he’s been told anything about it. He has yet to decide whether there will be hell to pay, but America, he’s definitely considering it.
Of course, his immediate reaction was predictable, if extraordinarily nuanced. You see, although Gruber was a well-paid consultant on the Affordable Care Act, he was never actually on the White House payroll as a staff member, and so when asked, and so Barack Obama believes he can comfortably distancehimself from Gruber’s deep thoughts on marketing strategy.
The fact that some adviser who never worked on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters, is no reflection on the actual process that was run.
True, true. But the thing about Jonathan Gruber is, when he has what he thinks is a roaring success, he likes to talk about it. And one conservative blogger located a taped episode of Frontline, where Gruber discusses how he met with Barack Obama personally about constructing “phase-ins” and hiding language in order to make the bill easier to pass.
“The problem is it’s a political nightmare, and people say ‘no, you can’t tax my benefits’…so what we did a lot in that room was think a lot about well how could we make this work? … And [Obama] is really a realistic guy. He was like, ‘look, I can’t just do this.’ He said ‘it’s just not going to happen politically. The bill will not pass. How do we manage to get there through phase-ins and other things?’ And we talked about it. He was just very interested in that topic.”
Huh. So, basically, the only real reason Gruber was even called in on the subject was because he knew how to reword provisions of the bill that wouldn’t have been exceptionally popular with Americans and whichever members of Congress actually managed to read the bill before passing it. And although President Obama is loath to admit he ever swapped so much as a handshake with the guy, it seems that they’ve had at least a couple of personal pow-wows.