The Gruber Scandal: Bad for Obama, Bad for… Romney?

After six tempestuous years in office and facing the opposition of a Republican congress for its final two, it requires no stretch of the imagination to believe that the Obama administration will have amounted to scarcely a fraction of what was expected at its outset. As the first anniversary of its signature healthcare legislation approaches, the story is not one of success but of growing concerns by the left as to how many current ObamaCare enrollees will be refusing to stay on. Granted: when this administration is all over, it will have done its share of damage, but nothing that cannot be reversed by better leadership and an assertive and principled Republican party. Still, for an administration that looks poised to go out with a whimper, its scandals still hit with a bang, and the seemingly endless series of embarrassing remarks by a major figure in the creation of the healthcare plan, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, are revealing a passionate contempt for the American people that this administration has always subtly exuded but never stated outright.

The widespread derision of Gruber across the internet and social media could not be more deserved. Anyone who holds the American public in such disdain should be made a political pariah and considered poison to any who work with him. May the term “Grubering”, now taken to signify the act of deceiving voters or counting on the assumption of their stupidity, long endure. No doubt, with conservatives’ ever-effective use of social media, it shall. Still, in the midst of the tarring-and-feathering two important thoughts on the situation should give voters pause—one with implications for Democrats, the other for Republicans.


Gruber Didn’t Call ObamaCare Opponents Stupid

He called the law’s supporters stupid. In one of the videos dating to 2013, Gruber was recorded saying, “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage and, basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever. But basically that was really critical to getting the thing to pass.” He repeats this sentiment elsewhere in other recorded speeches, but the message is clear. While he may show similar condescension towards those who are wary of the law, comparing them to his “adolescent children”, Gruber is ultimately calling those voters who supported the law stupid for having supported it. Not to say that he doesn’t agree with the law, mind you; he simply recognizes that, contrary to the administration’s claims, many of those who support the law will be paying into it and getting nothing in return. He either accepts this as just or is indifferent to its moral implications (I do not know Mr. Gruber’s ethics enough to say). Either way, he accepts that some people will be sacrificed and is happy to lead them to the altar (for a hefty $400,000 paycheck, no less).

This attitude should not be forgotten when turning one’s attention to the administration at large or other Democratic leadership who have worked with Gruber. Those who set out to devise statist schemes and commit themselves to social engineering come in a variety of forms—the patronizing savior, the power-grabber, the acolyte, etc.—but every now and then one finds someone who, with an amoral candor, names the assumption on which all of their schemes rest. In the process, he may startle even his allies, but it does not mean that their implicit beliefs in any way diverge from his. Gruber may speak the truths on which the whole scheme rests, but they act on those truths every day.

Democrats should remember the condescension of Mr. Gruber the next time that they hungrily accept another grand scheme from their party, all on the assumption that the politicians they have elected and the politicos behind them are well intentioned, enlightened social architects.


If Gruber Is Bad for Obama, Shouldn’t He Be Bad for Romney?

ObamaCare was not Jonathan Gruber’s first experience in supporting large-scale statist healthcare reforms. Prior to that, he was considered the “architect” of the Massachusetts health care plan on which ObamaCare was based. In the growing list of Gruber’s video-recorded tell-all’s is one from 2012 in which he reveals the “dirty secret” in Massachusetts:

“[T]he feds paid for our bill, OK? In Massachusetts, we had a very powerful Senator you may know. His name is Ted Kennedy,” Gruber said. “Ted Kennedy had basically figured out – Ted Kennedy and smart people in Massachusetts – had figured out a way to rip off the Feds for $400 million a year. The Romney administration, to their credit, went to the Bush administration and said, ‘Wait a second, if we can keep this money and use it to cover the uninsured, will you let us keep it?’ The Bush administration, to its credit, said, ‘sure.’ And that became the financial basis for our transformation in Massachusetts.”

Though Gruber may consider those actions as being to Ted Kennedy’s and Mitt Romney’s credit, the American voters whom Gruber disdains as “stupid” will no doubt see it otherwise. Though Americans still show a surprising lethargy in opposing many absurd excesses of government spending, news of $400 million in federal tax dollars going to support an ObamaCare-like scheme for Massachusetts alone is unlikely to—and by all means should not—sit well with American voters and Republican voters in particular.

Mitt Romney spent a great deal of time and effort in his 2012 presidential campaign trying failingly to distance himself from his signature act as Massachusetts’ governor in starting the health plan, quibbling over claims of how allegedly different it was to follow the policies on a state level than to pursue them on a federal scale. He was somehow able to convince enough Republican voters of the difference to secure the nomination, but was ultimately hamstrung in the general elections once Republicans had managed to nominate the one candidate in their party who could not mount a legitimate moral argument against ObamaCare.

As attention turns to the $400 million per year in federal dollars that went into Massachusetts’ during the governor’s tenure and Romney considers another presidential run in 2016, the question is ‘How much are Republicans willing to close their eyes to the reality of Romney’s history on the healthcare issue?’ The prospect of nominating the two-time losing presidential candidate yet again, now with even less credibility on the healthcare issue than he had in 2012, looks like party suicide. Nonetheless, Romney continues to score highly in early polling on Republican presidential contenders. If voters have learned anything since 2012 and are any more reluctant to be drawn in by old-guard Republican strategists, they will recognize the almost identical qualities of “RomneyCare” and ObamaCare, and they will see that Governor Romney’s procurement of hundreds of millions of federal taxpayers’ dollars to pay for a state program is contrary to the current path of the Republican Party toward principles of limited government and individual rights.

In short, Republicans: if you don’t like wasteful spending, government intrusions into the economy, or condescending scientific social planners in your current administration, don’t accept them in your next one.

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