by Andrew Allen
Clash Daily Guest Contributor
Jonathan Gruber isn’t a bad guy. Arrogant? Meh. Arrogance isn’t an admirable quality but it doesn’t make him a bad guy. Sure, he said dumb things. Lots of people say dumb things. And just because the things Gruber said are dumb doesn’t mean there isn’t some truth in them.
Where Gruber went wrong is in what he revealed when he said dumb things. Caught on camera, comfortable in the cloistered world of academia, Jonathan Gruber momentarily parted the curtain that separates leftist elites from the rest of America. In doing so, he unwittingly revealed that the machinery behind their agenda isn’t rooted in benevolent intellectualism. Rather, he exposed the left’s contempt for their own supporters as they pursue goals contrary to what most Americans want for their country.
The left’s support base was who Gruber referred to when he used the adjective “stupid”. To call anyone “stupid” — let alone those from whom you ask for political support — is bad. Really bad. Still, there is some accuracy in Gruber’s point. A majority of Americans never supported Obamacare and weren’t those the administration begged support from. Those that didn’t support the legislation weren’t going to change their minds after hearing rote progressive talking points. In fact, they weren’t even treated as a credible part of the health care conversation.
For example Gruber, in response to a Vermont citizen’s concerns over “ballooning costs” and “bureaucratic outrage”, snarked back “was this (question) written by my adolescent children by chance”. The Obamacare sales pitch was made exclusively to the “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for crowd”, the ones passing out in the aisles at Obama rallies. That’s whom they had to appeal to; absent support from their own base, Obamacare would have died in Congress. As such they couldn’t let their base discover the truth behind it. Those are the people he called “stupid”.
Deeper than that, and more informative of leftist deception, are the other things Gruber said. “It’s a very clever, you know, basic exploitation of the lack of understanding of the American voter”, he said in November 2012 at the University of Rhode Island discussing the so-called “cadillac tax”. To make Obamacare palatable, Gruber believed it “very clever” to push the cadillac tax – the fiction that a 40% tax would be shifted away from individuals by making insurance companies pay for it. This sales pitch was no different than their class warfare “pay their fair share” rhetoric which pits Wall Street against Main Street. It’s built on a lie.
Businesses don’t pay taxes. Nope. At least not in the same sense that an individual pays taxes. Taxes are an expense for businesses and are paid in one of two ways. A business can increase the purchase price of the product or service it’s selling to make up the cost. Or, a business can trim it’s labor costs making a full-time position part-time, a layoff, an outsourced job, or a job removed from the payroll entirely. Either way, the expense of business taxes — even if it’s a 40% increase for health insurance companies — is paid for by individuals. No accounting gimmick absorbs it; progressives that know better conceal this fact to demagogue the private sector.
It’s not the only lie. Like so many other Obama administration programs — the stimulus, cash for clunkers, green jobs, to name a few — Obamacare was sold as smart government. A smart government program by definition would save money. As late as October 2013 Center For American Progress proclaimed that the law would result in cost savings of “$190 billion over the next decade and increase deficit reduction by 174% to $300 billion”. That’s despite a decades old track record in which no federal entitlement program has saved money or produced deficit reduction.
This inconvenient history wasn’t lost on the administration when they crafted Obamacare. It was a known fact even as they said otherwise. “The law isn’t designed to save money…that’s going to cost money,” Gruber admitted.
Obamacare wasn’t supposed to be a wealth redistribution scheme either — public distancing of Obamacare from comparisons to single-payer healthcare systems was and continues to be a mainstay of the left. However, Donald Berwick, Obama’s 2010 recess appointment to head up the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid admired the wealth transfer inherent in such health care systems.
Speaking in 2008 at an event commemorating the 60th anniversary of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service Berwick said “any health care funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized, and humane must, must redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and less fortunate…excellent health care is by definition redistribution”.
Gruber echoed this when he said “if you made explicitly healthy people pay in and sick people get money it would not have passed…lack of transparency is a huge political advantage”. In other words, wealth distribution was understood to be fundamental for Obamacare’s success, and such an anathema it had to be hidden behind an intentional lack of transparency.
Jonathan Gruber is the leftist we’ve been waiting for. He’s the progressive elitist that inadvertently spilled the beans. The “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for” crowd might find this uncomfortable, but it’s too late. Gruber parted their curtain for a brief moment and showed everyone what they are really all about.
Andrew Allen grew up in the American southeast and for more than two decades has worked as an information technologies professional in Washington DC, southern California, and abroad variously in Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia. A former far-left activist, Allen became a
conservative in the late 1990s, once emboldened to begin questioning his own leftist points of view. When not working IT issues or traveling, Andrew Allen spends his free time with family, exercising, and writing.