Correction: An earlier version of this column incorrectly stated that Justice Samuel Alito asked Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, “Why do you keep saying tax?” Justice Stephen Breyer asked Verrilli that. The following version has been updated.
Democrats are desperately distancing themselves from Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber. He “never worked on our staff,” President Obama said this weekend in Brisbane, Australia, (even though Gruber was paid almost $400,000 by his administration, is the intellectual author of the individual mandate and met in the Oval Office with Obama and the head of the Congressional Budget Office to pore over the bill). “I don’t know who he is,” Nancy Pelosi declared on Capitol Hill (even though she repeatedly cited him by name during the Obamacare debate).
The reason Democrats are running from Gruber is the same reason conservatives should be thanking him: Gruber has exposed what liberals really think of the American people.
As of this weekend, there are now seven Gruber videos, in which he mocks the “stupidity” of American voters and boasts of the Obama administration’s ability to take advantage of it. In a new video that surfaced Friday, Gruber explains that the Obama administration passed the so-called “Cadillac tax” on high-value employer health plans “by mislabeling it, calling it a tax on insurance plans rather than a tax on people, when we know it’s a tax on people who hold these insurance plans.” Americans would not support a tax on individuals, so “We just tax the insurance companies, they pass on the higher prices . . . it ends up being the same thing.” The ruse, Gruber says, was “a very clever . . . basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter.”
In another video, Gruber boasts about how the Obama administration fooled Americans into paying to cover the uninsured by using sleight of hand, focusing on their concern over rising health costs. “Barack Obama’s not a stupid man, okay? He knew when he was running for president that quite frankly the American public doesn’t actually care that much about the uninsured. . . . What the American public cares about is costs. And that’s why even though the bill that they made is 90 percent health insurance coverage and 10 percent about cost control, all you ever hear people talk about is cost control.”
In yet another video, Gruber says the Obama administration knew the individual mandate was a tax, but that if Americans knew the truth “the bill dies.” So the bill “was written in a tortured way to make sure [the Congressional Budget Office] did not score the mandate as taxes.” He adds that “the lack of transparency is a huge political advantage” and that “the stupidity of the American voter . . . was really, really critical for the thing to pass.”
President Obama insists none of this represents the views of his administration. Asked in Australia whether he had intentionally misled the American people to get the law passed, Obama replied curtly, “No, I did not.”
Yes, he did. Put aside his now infamous lie of the year in 2013 that “if you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan.” Obama also insisted repeatedly that the individual mandate “is absolutely not a tax increase.” In a 2009 interview with ABC News, George Stephanopoulos pressed him on it no less than five times. He even read Obama the definition of “tax” from Webster’s dictionary. Obama was adamant: “My critics say everything is a tax increase. . . . I absolutely reject that notion.”
Then, after Obamacare passed, his administration cynically turned around and argued before the Supreme Court that it was in fact a tax. At one point, Justice Stephen Breyer asked Obama’s solicitor general, Donald Verrilli, “Why do you keep saying tax?,” drawing peals of laughter.
The reason he called it a tax is because — as Jonathan Gruber now admits — members of the Obama team knew all along that it was a tax. They intentionally deceived Americans about it because if they had called it a tax, Obamacare would never have become law.
It’s one thing for Americans to suspect that their president lies to them. It’s quite another to hear a key Obama adviser boast of it.
So thank you, Jonathan Gruber. We now know how the Obama left sees the American people. We are like children who don’t understand what is best for us. We need experts such as Jonathan Gruber to make decisions for us. If we are too “stupid” to agree with them, they can use our ignorance to deceive us and enact policies we would never otherwise support. And if we’re too stupid to catch the deception, well, that’s our problem.