Nancy Pelosi has the distinction of uttering one of the most repeated, most reviled political quotes of President Obama’s term.
“We have to pass the [health care] bill so that you can find out what is in it,” Pelosi said in March 2010.
It was a quote that exemplified everything that was wrong with policymaking under the Democrat-held Congress. Bills were so enormous that nobody, legislators included, read them before voting on them. And bills were so complex that the few elected officials who took the time to read at least part of the massive piles of paper could understand them.
Nancy Pelosi seemed to admit that those were features, not bugs, of the legislative process. In her mind, it was better to ram something through Congress before its flaws could be found out. After all, it’s much easier to win an argument over legislative procedure (which voters quickly lose interest in) than it is over policy ideas.
But new videos now show that Jonathan Gruber, one of the primary behind-the-scenes architects of Obamacare, said things that make Pelosi look downright diplomatic by comparison.
“Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage,” Gruber says. “And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass.”
Gruber goes on to admit that the bill was written so as not only to deceive the “stupid” public, but also the Congressional Budget Office.
“The bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes,” Gruber tells the audience. “If CBO scores the mandate as taxes, the bill dies.
The message he is trying to send is clear: Policymaking is complicated and it’s better for everyone if you just let some smart people in Washington figure out how to solve America’s problems. This long-held (but rarely discussed) liberal line has been an excuse for Democrats to push for a more expansive federal government, one with the power to control sectors of the economy. But it’s that hubris that has always been their demise. The market for health care, like the market for just about anything, can’t be controlled by a few people, it’s too big and too complex.
And yet the thinking never dies. It keeps getting spewed again and again by people like Gruber, who is at least honest about his intellectual superiority. Which is not to say that it hasn’t gotten him in some serious hot water. After the first quote went public the internet went to work digging up more videos of Gruber discussing just how dumb Americans are.
“They proposed it and that passed, because the American people are too stupid to understand the difference,” the MIT economist was caught saying about the Cadillac tax.
Gruber is referring to a tweak that Democrats made to the language of Obamacare to make it appear as if they weren’t increasing taxes. Initially, Democrats wanted to put a cap on tax breaks that employers were providing to employees for health insurance plans. But that was doomed to fail because voters inevitably viewed it as a tax hike on individuals. So instead, Democrats moved to add a tax on expensive health insurance plans—Cadillac plans—which would give Americans the appearance that insurance companies were having to pay, even though Gruber and Democrats knew that the costs would be passed on to customers.
“It’s a very clever, you know, basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter,” Gruber explained in a third video.”
The fourth video didn’t use such damning language, but the unvarnished kernel of truth that Gruber reveals is just as telling to Democrats’ thought process.
“Barack Obama’s not a stupid man, okay,” Gruber said in remarks at the College of the Holy Cross. “What the American public cares about is costs. And that’s why even though the bill that they made is 90 percent health insurance coverage and 10 percent about cost control, all you ever hear people talk about is cost control.”
Unfortunately, Gruber isn’t even so sure about the 10 percent. He says they took a “spaghetti approach,” in that they threw a bunch of stuff against a wall to see what sticks, but the “problem is we don’t know how” to control the rate of cost growth.
Rather than focus on making health insurance affordable in order to allow more people to purchase it, Democrats apparently made the decision to ignore cost growth and simply mandate that people have health insurance. That’s completely backwards from the type of system we should want.
And finally, today, a fifth video was released of the Obamacare architect, this time labeling a list of potential negative consequences as something that could have been “written by my adolescent children.”
So in sum, the architect of Obamacare drafted the law in such a way as to hide Democrats’ true intent from a stupid public while also applauding the president for selling the law as a cost-control mechanism when it really wasn’t. And if all of that wasn’t enough to get you steamed, consider that he was paid $400,000 in taxpayer money for the privilege.