Jonathan Gruber broke his silence yesterday with an interview on MSNBC, but the “stupidity of the American voter” is still dogging the White House, because while nearly everyone might believe that our representative democracy is run largely by idiots, most people – namely the Democratic voters that helped to pass Obamacare – don’t like to hear it said outright. Because, when you think about it, it wasn’t really Republican voters he was talking about. None of them were gung-ho about government-administered healthcare, regardless of Gruber’s slick comic-book presentation.
Which probably explains why the White House, instead of laughing off Gruber’s comments as yet another “faux-scandal” designed to keep Darrell Issa busy in the Congressional off-season, they’re meeting the comments head on – with an outright denial that Jonathan Gruber had absolutely anything at all to do with the Affordable Care Act.
An administration official also noted to TPM that — while Gruber is often described as an “architect” of Obamacare because he was a key consultant to the administration and was heavily involved in developing the Massachusetts health reform law that served as a starting point for the ACA — “he did not work in the White House or play the same role in developing the Affordable Care Act.”
That begs the question: what, exactly, was Jonathan Gruber doing for the Health and Human Services department that earned him $400,000? Interior decorating?
Gruber has been a go-to voice for reporters seeking a respected academic view on health care reform costs — and as far as I can tell, few if any knew that in March he was awarded a $95,000 contract with HHS and in June a $297,600 contract with HHS for providing “Technical Assistance in Evaluating Options for National Healthcare Reform.”
I guess they’re technically correct. He didn’t work directly with the White House. He worked with HHS and directly with Congress, which was ultimately responsible for developing and executing the healthcare reform bill itself, although it does seem like he authored a few op-eds defending things like the “Cadillac tax” that “reduced incentives for employers to provide excessively generous insurance.” And he didn’t play exactly the same role as he did in developing Massachusetts health care plan, because the plan itself was already developed. He, apparently, helped Congress tailor it to a national audience.
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