Jonathan Gruber

Jonathan Gruber's Excuse for his Obamacare Subsidies Speak-O Grows Weaker Still


Jonathan Gruber's excuse for his now-infamous Obamacare subsidies "speak-o" (really, speak-os)—a couple of dug-up remarks in which he described the health law as limiting subsidies to state-run exchanges, just like the law says, and exactly the opposite of the way that the Obama administration has decided to implement the law—was weak from the start.

At the end of last year, he appeared before Congress to explain away the 2012 remarks he referred to as "speak-os" (the verbal equivalent of typos), saying that the point he believed he was making was actually "about the possibility that the federal government, for whatever reason, might not create a federal exchange." The context of the original remarks, which started by noting that a federal fallback exchange was required under the law, made that excuse hard to swallow. A newly unearthed interview weakens the excuse further.

In his congressional testimony, Gruber elaborated on his excuse. When he made the original "speak-o," in which he said that "if you're a state and you don't set up an exchange that means your citizens don't get their tax credits," he was worried about the federal exchanges because setting them up "was a very complicated task" and because "we weren't sure who would be President when the time came to stand them up." After all, a GOP administration might do a worse job, or even resist the law's requirement that the federal government set up a fallback. The original statements about the exchanges were made in January of 2012, before the election.

Here's the problem: Gruber was still worried about states not setting up their own exchanges after the election.

As Phil Kerpen of American Commitment notes, Rich Weinstein, who uncovered the original Gruber clips, has found yet another interview, this one with the magazine Employee Benefit Adviser, in which Gruber expresses worry that "stick-it-to-the-man conservative" states won't set up exchanges "at the cost of their state residents." That interview took place in March of 2013—after the election, when there was no longer any question about who would win the 2012 election. 

The excuse Gruber provided in testimony appears in legal briefs supporting the administration's decision to allow subsidies in federal exchanges, a challenge to which will be heard early next month at the Supreme Court; this was necessary since the administration originally relied heavily on work by Gruber to defend its implementation. 

This latest find, however, probably reveals less about the legal particulars of Obamacare than it does about Gruber, a widely quoted expert on Obamacare who, over the last year proved himself to be a self-serving liar. (He claimed on multiple occasions over several years, for example, to have helped author the law, and then insisted in congressional testimony that he did not.)

It's not exactly surprising, given the previous weaknesses of his excuse, which he has admitted was an after-the-fact rationalization designed to fit his previous statements with what he now says he believes. But it does suggest, once again, that the Jonathan Gruber of 2014 or 2015 is not a particularly reliable guide to the Jonathan Gruber of 2012, and that the best explanation for what Gruber said back in 2012 is that his clear and unambiguous remarks about the limits Obamacare places on subsidies, which match the clear and unambiguous text of the health law itself, have not been taken out of context but in fact mean exactly what they appear to mean.

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  1. Rich Weinstein is quite an investigative journalist, a real credit to his chosen profession.

  2. Alt-text: PhD stands for “Pretty Huge Dickhead”

    1. “Petty Health Dictator”

    2. PWND Healthcare Dictator

    3. President’s Head Douche

    4. Piled Higher and Deeper

    5. Pelosi’s

  3. Phake Skandull – you libertarians just want poor peepulzes to die the unmaintained streets of a selfish Amerikkka.

    I eagerly await the SCOTUS oral argument.

    1. You…you got me…

      *hangs head in shame*

      1. Almanian! Have you been wishin for poor folks to die in unmaintained streets again?

        Just wait till mom and dad get home….I’m tellin!!!

    2. That will be the Solicitor General’s main argument: “Nazgul, why do you hate poor people?”

      1. And the Nazgul will decide in favor of Obama because to do otherwise would cause too much ‘disruption’.

    3. I eagerly await the SCOTUS oral argument.

      The public Kabuki one?

      Or the real one that goes something like this:

      Obama Admin Thug: Justice Roberts, nice adopted kid you gots dere. Shame if she gets taken back and your wife goes to jail for does improprieties in the adoption.

  4. my friend’s aunt makes $62 an hour on the computer . She has been laid off for five months but last month her pay was $14934 just working on the computer for a few hours. Visit this site………

    1. Tell her to get on fixin’ that O!Care system then!

  5. I don’t run into many big defenders of Obamacare these days, but when I do I like to ask them, seeing all the issues with the drafting, passing, interpreting, rolling out and implementing of it, how confident are they going to be when the same people get to decide what treatments are important for you and which are not.

    1. I’d be interested to hear how people respond to that. Must be entertaining.

      1. A lot seem to have a ‘hmmm’ moment, a lot just fall back on how universal coverage is ‘worth the inevitable kinks’ and some think that magically they’ll just start getting it right at that stage.

        1. I particularly like those that just go whole hog and say, “well, this is why we just need single-payer universal coverage.”

          As if that explains away ALL the problems.

          1. My response to people who say we need single payer universal coverage is “So you want your health care to be provided by the same people who have given veterans the VA Medical Health systems debacle?”

            1. I go along the lines of “What if a Republican gets elected? What do you think will happen when you ask HHS Secretary Santorum if you can have an abortion?”

            2. I usually get something like: “I know several people who use the VA and they think it’s wonderful care.”

              Well I have personally used it, and it pretty much sucks.

              1. I sincerely hope I never have to use it.

        2. I’m surprised they don’t call you a death-panel-monger. Or words to that effect.

        3. Kinks to include “Sorry Mr. Smith we have no kidneys for you”

      2. I’d be interested to hear how people respond to that. Must be entertaining.

        Progtard – Teh republicans are never going to win the presidency again.

    2. Because the Republican alternative is “die quickly if you get sick.”

      1. In your particular case, that would be an absolutely perfect solution.

      2. Do the right thing Tony.

      3. Tony|2.24.15 @ 1:54PM|#
        “Because the Republican alternative is “die quickly if you get sick.””

        While the proggy alternative is get sick, stay sick and stay in line until you die!
        What an ‘improvement’!
        You’re a fucking ignoramus, Tony.

      4. Get sick, be placed on a secret VA list by some government employee, and then die waiting for treatment.

    3. Just imagine, they will be the same type of people making the decisions at the VA

  6. “We pushed it and then passed it… whew! Now, hopefully we can fix it…”

    Classic modern fucking Democrat.

    1. This goddamned law is worse than a kidney stone…

      1. At least you aren’t stuck with a kidney stone when you pass it, amirite?

      2. Because sometimes, if your doctor is feeling brave, you can get pain meds for kidney stones.

    2. Agile Cyborg|2.24.15 @ 11:31AM|#
      “We pushed it and then passed it… whew! Now, hopefully we can fix it…”

      E J. Dionne was whining the other day about how the GOP isn’t willing to help the poor Ds fix the disaster they foisted on us.

      1. “E J. Dionne was whining the other day about how the GOP isn’t willing to help the poor Ds fix the disaster they foisted on us”

        Thats’ to be expected.

        The liberal mindset is that no one is allowed to disagree with their premises (health care is a “right”) or objectives and so anything that they manage to get enacted into law based on those premises is hereafter forever settled. It doesn’t matter that Obamacare was enacted via massive amounts of trickery, deceit and political chicanery. The “it’s the law” crowd thinks everyone is obligated to fall in line and do whatever they can to make their plan work.

  7. This guy is so dumb he even flunks the basics of Billing for Consultants 101.…..ded-bills/

    “It is noteworthy that Dr. Gruber’s first invoice reported round numbers of hours worked (100 for Mr. Gruber and 500 for the research assistants),” Hoffer wrote. “This is possible, but unlikely. In addition, the second invoice reported exactly the same figures, which is implausible.”

    NEVER turn in invoices with even numbers of hours when you are billing hourly.

    It also helps to do some basic math so you don’t fuck up the sniff test:

    Auditor of Accounts Douglas Hoffer said he referred his findings on Jonathan Gruber and his contract with the state to Attorney General William Sorrell. Hoffer said Gruber’s invoices billed Vermont $100 per hour for the work of a research assistant ? 1,000 hours in 10 weeks.
    “To do so, the RA would have worked exclusively on this project for more than 14 hours per day ? every day,” the auditor said. “The evidence suggests that Dr. Gruber overstated the hours worked by the RA and that the Agency of Administration ignored the obvious signs that something was amiss.”

    1. I’d love to see him indicted for overbilling the government.

      1. And lying to Congress, which this article reveals he did.

      2. “The Firm”. 😉

    2. He figured as long as he was in with the Obama administration, he could basically get away with murder.

      1. And he would have, too. I’m going to bet there is a close correlation between the video scandal and the investigation into the hours worked.

        It’s amazing how the left has the gall to say this guy knows nothing when they paid him what he did to ‘advise’ states on the law after the fact.

    3. There are doctors who have gone to jail for doing much less than that when billing medicare.

    4. A liar and a thief?

      This is my shocked face.

    5. “the Agency of Administration ignored the obvious signs that something was amiss.”
      You bet something was amiss! The IT department had screwed up again and everyone’s Flash players were broken. The Candy Crush Saga derby was ruined.

      1. So it’s back to surfing porn.

  8. “Blame it, if you will, on the stupidity of the people the average American voter puts into power.”

  9. This just keeps getting better and better.

    1. Yes. It would be hard to make up someone this incompetent, arrogant, and sleazy.

      1. Statism breeds these people, collects them like discontinued Beanie Babies.

    2. Like herpes, the gift that keeps on giving.

  10. I missed the sign the first go ’round.
    Does anyone else use a sign with their degree plastered on it? Did he whip out his BS Merit Badges? His gold stars from his teachers?
    What a pathetic image…

    1. Actually, I bet the little prick had a conniption fit when some lackey put “Mr.” Rather than “Dr.” on it.

      1. BTDT:

        Me: (In a lecture hall with 150 students present) Professor Gustafson, I was wondering…….

        Prof: That’s Doctor to you.

        Me: Unless you can practice dentistry medicine or veterinary medicine in this state, that is an honorary title.

        Prof: WHAT IS YOUR NAME?

        He and I never got along again. Needless to say, my grade in Econ 1A at UC reflected that.

        1. That kind of attitude would lead me to calling him by a title much less polite than professor.

        2. I like to remind such people that they aren’t that different than Dr. Dre, Dr. J, or Doc Rivers.

  11. Some americans ARE stupid when it comes to this law. Polls showed that some people support the Affordable Care Act but oppose Obamacare, not recognizing that they are identical. They like the provisions of ACA eg [no discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions or kids on parents’ insurance til age 26] not understanding that these things didn’t exist prior to the ACA [pardon me, Obamacare].

    Here’s a humorous look:

    As we say here in the south, “You can’t fix stupid.”

    1. I was debating the merits of Obamacare with a bunch of Leftie posters about three years ago on and just to have a little fun, I took some of the stupider sections of Obamacare and presented them as a new Healthcare plan by Sarah Palin.

      The crowd, predictably, had nothing but scorn for the “Plan”. One poster calling it the stupidest thing he ever read. After 40 comments or so, I revealed that they were all provisions from Obamacare.

      So naturally, they turned on me and blasted me for “lying” about the author. Not one of them re-thought their positions.

      I later read the phrase “Principal’s over Princple’s” here on and it completely encapsulated that Leftie mindset.

    2. Gruber was right. The people that support the ACA and voted for 0bama are stupid. The rest of us voted for someone else or not at all.

  12. my friend’s aunt makes $62 an hour on the computer . She has been laid off for five months but last month her pay was $14934 just working on the computer for a few hours. Visit this site………

  13. “Some {A}mericans ARE stupid when it comes to this law.”

    Some Americans are stupid full stop. Almost all Americans are ignorant about Obamacare, including most who voted for it, many who wrote it, and (my estimate) 99% of those who support it.

    If you debate the law, 9 times out of 10 you will debate with someone who does not know what the law is, means, says, or does. How can you defend something you cannot describe? Because you trust its source. Obama is good, they believe, so things that flow from Obama should be presumed good.

    Personally, I have a strong bias against the biggest insurance companies. Pound for pound, these corporate entities rival the federal government in corruption, waste, arrogance, greed, & stupidity. If these companies support a law, I reflexively oppose it. A good rule of thumb is to assume that, whenever these cooperate behemoths lobby for a law, it will harm you unless you work for one of them.

    1. There are many problems with this law. However, in my opinion, this technical drafting error isn’t one of them. It could be fixed in no time if we had a functional Congress. But we sink further and further into the abyss of partisanship on both sides as the notions of listening, negotiating, compromising, respecting the opinions of others even if you don’t agree with them evaporate into the rancid air of Washington, DC.

      1. if we had a functional Congress.

        IOW a Congress that was either represented by democrat voters or on that betrays the voters that send them to DC.

        we sink further and further into the abyss of partisanship

        Yeah, funny how partisanship was just dandy when the donks controlled congress (we won; they can come along for the ride but they gotta sit in the back and shutup).

        1. Umm, no. You are projecting ideas onto my comments that don’t belong there. In the past, partisanship was okay with me as I had a firm and youthful allegiance to one political philosophy and party. However, that was before I confronted my own knee-jerk narcissism and political fundamentalism and withdrew my support from the two-party system. Now I would like to see a return to civil discourse, respectful disagreement, and a willingness to negotiate and compromise. IMO, the decay of the political process sits firmly on the shoulders of both parties. Your comment is a good example of substituting assumptions and projections for asking questions and understanding another’s point of view.

          1. The point is that Obamacare is itself an effect of partisanship; one which should be repealed altogether in order to get past partisanship.

          2. So after the Democrats lost the Congress, you decided we needed to be civil again. Got it Maria.

          3. How do you get “discourse, disagreement, negotiation, and compromise” without at least two parties? Or are you saying you want a three-party system now that you’ve withdrawn your support for the two-party system? I could go for a third party myself.

          4. Sure let’s compromise. The government needs to be smaller. We can compromise on how much spending we are going to cut and how many programs will be mothballed.

            Sound good? If so let’s get right on that compromise thing.

      2. But we sink further and further into the abyss of partisanship on both sides…

        The Democrats rammed this law through Congress with absolutely zero listening, negotiating, compromising, respecting the opinions of Republicans. The ACA is a piece of shit and the Democrats own it. The Republicans have zero obligation to listening, negotiating, compromising, respecting the opinions of Democrats with respect to the ACA.

        There is no fixing this law. Repeal is the only option.

      3. marla|2.24.15 @ 1:52PM|#
        …”this technical drafting error isn’t one of them.”

        That is no ‘technical drafting error’; that’s written in to the law specifically to give Repub governors a black eye if they didn’t set up exchanges.
        If you expect to be taken seriously, don’t bullshit.

      4. “It could be fixed in no time”- nuff said.

    2. Seriously, no one understands this law. I am not saying that no one knows every word 100% of the ACA, that is a given.

      I am saying, especially with all the moving parts, fiats yet to be decreed, and other such machinations, that there is no one on earth capable of comprehending it in any comprehensive way. It is a perfect encapsulation of Hayek’s knowledge problem.

  14. In Grubers case, PhD stands for ‘piled higher and deeper’.

    1. …and BuSab Agent beats me to the punch. :p

    2. BS – Bullshitter
      MS – More Shit
      PhD – Piled higher and Deeper

  15. “A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth.” – Michael Kinsley

  16. Gruber may be investigated in Vermont by the Vt AG for ‘mis-billing’ the little state, recently. See Vermont Digger online:…..overbilled

    1. I emjoyed seeing Vermont back away from its own version of single payer due to it costing twice as much as what they thought. Guess they like having businesses that have the option of leaving stay in VT.

  17. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ??????

  18. I might want to thank you for the endeavors you have made in composing this post.

  19. They had to lie in order to get ObamaCare passed. Unfortunate but worth it because the bill is so great.

    Except that ObamaCare is a disaster for the country and the people who have to pay for it. A family of 4 making $100,000 in California has to pay 37 % of their pretax income to use their insurance. Only idiots and lying progressive fascists can claim that’s affordable.

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