Yes Virginia, Jonathan Gruber Was a Key Obamacare Consultant

Peter Suderman has the facts at hand. It is not surprising that Obamacare fans are currently trying to convince the rest of us that Gruber had very little to do with the design and implementation of Obamacare–after all, given the degree to which Gruber has inconvenienced pro-Obamacare forces, it would be positively unnatural if fans of the Non-Affordable Care Act didn’t try to distance themselves from Gruber–but the attempt to rewrite history just will not and should not work:

Nancy Pelosi, for example, knew Gruber’s name when she cited his work by 2009 in support of the law. And while Tanden is technically right that Gruber did not work for the White House, the Department of Health and Human Services, or any congressional committee as a staffer, he did, as she notes, work as a contractor, receiving almost $400,000 for a technical analysis of the law.

As for whether Gruber helped write the law, he has claimed explicitly that he did. In a 2012 lecture on the structure of the law, Gruber says that the small business tax credits are a portion of the bill that he “actually wrote.”

In a video marking the anniversary of the Massachusetts health care law, which Gruber helped design, Gruber says he “helped President Obama develop a national version” of the same law. The video was produced and distributed by President Obama’s campaign organization.

Reporting backs up Gruber’s claim. A 2012 article on Gruber in The New York Times reported that he “helped the administration put together the basic principles of the proposal, the White House lent him to Capitol Hill to help Congressional staff members draft the specifics of the legislation.”

Yes, Gruber was an adviser, as Obama describes him, but that significantly understates his role. In addition to the nearly $400,000 he received from the administration (more than Obama’s senior staff earns annually), his work was cited repeatedly by the administration as evidence for the law, and Gruber participated in high-level discussions with the president himself about what policies the law should include.

When the bill was being scored by the Congressional Budget Office, Gruber was one of just three outside economists summoned to an Oval Office meeting with the president and CBO director Douglas Elmendorf to look for ways to adjust the law in order to receive a better score, according to The Washington Post. That discussion, Gruber later said in a 2012 PBS documentary on the creation of the law, “became the genesis of what is called the Cadillac tax in the health care bill.” Gruber also visited with senior administration officials at the White House on several other ocassions, according to visitor logs.

The White House relied on Gruber not only to help determine policy, but to make the case for why it would work. In November of 2009, as Obamacare was being debated, the White House touted a report produced by Gruber as an “objective” analysis of the law—failing to mention that he had been paid by the administration.

And then there was the time in 2006 when, as a senator, Obama said he’d “stolen ideas” from Jonathan Gruber—in Obama’s words, “liberally.”

So, Jonathan Gruber very much was an Obamacare architect. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise either doesn’t know the facts, or does not want you to know them.

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