Jonathan Gruber, Who Claimed "Lack of Transparency" Was Critical to Passing Obamacare, Now Says the Republican Strategy is to "Confuse" People About the Law


Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Earlier this week, video surfaced of Jonathan Gruber, one of the authors of and key influences on the Affordable Care Act, explaining that "lack of transparency" was "critical" to passing the health care bill.

The bill, he explained, was written in a "tortured" way to avoid a Congressional Budget Office score that would have revealed its true costs, and policy consequences that were sure to be disliked were masked in order to hide them from the public.

"Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage," he said, "And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass." Although he said he wished that the law and its passage could have been transparent, he preferred the lack of transparency to the alternative, which would have been for the law to not pass. 

Essentially, Gruber said that the public was knowingly misled in order to achieve his preferred policy ends, and that this was both necessary and acceptable—a statement that was especially revealing given his flip-flopping interpretation of a provision of the law detailing the treatment of its insurance subsidies. 

But Gruber now insists that Republican critics of the law are the ones whose "master strategy" is to "confuse people" about the law and its effects. 

In a follow-up appearance on Boston TV station WGBH-TV yesterday, Gruber went on to accuse Republican critics of the law of attempting to tear down the law through public obfuscation. Confusing people about the law, he said, was part of the Republican "master strategy." Here's the bit, via RealClearPolitics: 

WGBH-TV HOST: All the talk, you've heard more of it than I did over the past two years, about what was going to happen when we finally got a Republican Congress. Will they try to dismantle this?

GRUBER: They will not try to dismantle the fundamental core, which is the three pillars on which it stands. They will try to go after these peripherial pieces, but I think that the much bigger risk is the Supreme Court case than the Congress at this point.

HOST: Are they hearing from constituents? They must be. There must be people who wouldn't have any healthcare were it not for this?

GRUBER: I think that this comes to the master strategy of the Republican party, which is to confuse people enough about the law so that they don't understand that the subsidies they're getting is because of the law. 

Perhaps surprisingly, Gruber is not supportive of this purported strategy, even though confusing people about the Obamacare's effects in order to pass the law is a tactic he previously endorsed. His enthusiasm for non-transparent political processes apparently does not extend to his opponents.