Thursday, November 13, 2014

Grubertastic Obamacare Schadenfreude

Dr. Jonathon Gruber, the MIT economist who was paid a lot of money to help design Obamacare, has had an exceptionally bad week.  A few months ago, you may recall, he was caught on video saying that the wording of O-care with state exchanges getting subsidies, and states that relied on the federal exchanges not getting subsidies was deliberate, and designed to spur states to make their own excahnges.

When it surfaced, he denied it, and claimed it was a mistake made in an off the cuff remark, only to have another video of him saying exactly the same thing to another audience. If it was an off the cuff remark, he was wearing the same shirt. To this day, E.J. Dionne (possibly the Post's most dishonest columnist) is writing a column on the Supreme Court challenge maintaining that it was a drafting error, and avoiding any mention of the Dr. Gruber. Poor Dr. Gruber, under E.J.'s bus.

Last week, found him in a similar situation. A video showed up showing him claiming that Obamacare could only be passed because they hid from the American public the fact that it was a tax, and that the well were being indirectly forced to subsidize the sick. They sure didn't fool us conservatives, but I'll have to give him the point for telling the sad truth.

Challenged, he immediately made the same claim, it was just another one-off, off the cuff remark. You can guess what happened next.  No, a video showing him making the same remark to another audience did not surface, TWO videos of him making essentially the same point to two different audiences surfaced.

Who is the poor bastard poring over Gruber's speeches to catch him in the act?  Meet the Mild-Mannered Investment Adviser Who's Humiliating the Administration Over Obamacare
Rich Weinstein is not a reporter. He does not have a blog. Until this week, the fortysomething's five-year old Twitter account had a follower count in the low double digits.

“I’m an investment adviser,” Weinstein tells me from his home near Philadelphia. “I’m a nobody. I’m the guy who lives in his mom’s basement wearing a tinfoil hat.” (He's joking about the mom and the tinfoil.)

He's also behind a series of scoops that could convince the Supreme Court to dismantle part of the Affordable Care Act. Weinstein has absorbed hours upon hours of interviews with Jonathan Gruber, an MIT professor who advised the Massachusetts legislature when it created “Romneycare” and the Congress when it created “Obamacare.” Conservatives had been looking for ways to demonstrate that the wording of the ACA denied insurance subsidies to consumers in states that did not create their own health exchanges. Weinstein found a clip of Gruber suggesting that states that did not create health insurance exchanges risked giving up the ACA's subsidies; it went straight into the King v. Burwell brief, and into a case that's currently headed to the Supreme Court.
Citizens doing the journalism journolists won't do.

Maine Senator, Independent-in-name-only Angus King was not upset that his side lied:
Via Newsbusters, after yesterday’s unpleasantness and the Halbig “speak-o” fiasco of a few months ago, I see Democrats (plus independents in name only like King) have finally reached the “Jon who?” stage of their Gruber problem.

This is the game we’re playing now, eh?
KILMEADE: They just lied about a health plan to the American people, called the stupidity of the American voter and bragged about the lack of transparency.
KING: This is one guy. I don’t know who this guy was. All I know is that it’s important for people to have health insurance. And if you guys are saying people shouldn’t have health insurance, I don’t know where you’re coming from.
GUILFOYLE: That’s not what we’re saying, sir.
KING: Are you that cruel?
“All I know is that it’s important for people to have health insurance.” That’s consistent, at least, with the ends-justifies-the-means Democratic M.O. that’s defined Obama’s presidency, particularly its second half.
But wait, Gruber speaks! (but only to MSNBC)
The Boston Herald revealed that they repeatedly reached Gruber by phone to comment on his past statements, but the professor repeatedly refused to elaborate on his comments.

Betraying the gravity of his insults, Gruber broke his silence on Tuesday and appeared on the friendliest venue imaginable – MSNBC with host Ronan Farrow – in order to clarify his remarks and apologize for insulting the American people.

Gruber repeated his claim that his comments at an academic conference in which he conceded that the law was designed to nudge states into creating their own state exchanges was the result of him speaking off the cuff; a “speak-o,” as he told The New Republic. He added that he “spoke inappropriately” when he took credit for pulling the wool over the eyes of the American people in order to ensure the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Gruber further reiterated his insistence that the ACA is an “incomplete law with some typos” – a claim which even Vox finds dubious.

Farrow called Gruber’s comments “nuanced” and expressed some sympathy for Democratic legislators who had to craft and pass the ACA behind closed doors. How understanding.

Something suggests that this is not going to entirely clear up the controversy surrounding Gruber’s remarks. Surely, Republicans are rooting for him to keep clarifying all the way up until the Court issues its verdict on the ACA’s “typo” in the summer.
Voter stupidity remark gives GOP new ammo on ObamaCare
A series of unearthed videos of ObamaCare consultant Jonathan Gruber insulting U.S. voters while saying a “lack of transparency” helped Congress pass the healthcare law are attracting serious attention on the right just as Republicans prepare to take control of the Senate.

The newly discovered remarks — revealed so far in three videos circulated by conservative media — add fuel to the GOP’s claim that Democrats were deliberately obscuring pieces of the law to assure its passage.

Add a wave of interest from Republican lawmakers and increasing scrutiny from the mainstream media, and you have the latest flashpoint in the abiding partisan war over ObamaCare, just ahead of the start of the law’s second enrollment periodon Saturday.
One especially fine example:  Obamacare's Foundation of Lies
He called you stupid. He admitted that the White House lied to you. Its officials lied to all of us—Republicans, Democrats, and independents; rich and poor; white and brown; men and women.

Liberals should be the angriest. Not only were they personally deceived, but the administration's dishonest approach to health care reform has helped make Obamacare unpopular while undermining the public's faith in an activist government. A double blow to progressives.

On top of that, Gruber has helped make the legal case for anti-Obamacare lawyers. In July, a year-old video surfaced in which Gruber said Washington legally withholds money from states that don't create their own health care exchanges. That could be construed by the Supreme Court to buttress the case against health insurance subsidies.
. . .
And so even I have to admit, as a supporter, that Obamacare was built and sold on a foundation of lies. No way around it, unless you're willing to accept a political system that colors its lies—the reds, the whites, and the blues.
And that's from a supporter! And another:
David Tuerck, head of the Beacon Hill Institute and chairman of Suffolk University’s Economics Department, calls it “damning” that a “gleeful” Gruber “brags” about making the law’s less palatable parts intentionally obscure to get them past the American public.

“What you see is breathtaking hubris on the part of Gruber,” Tuerck said. “He has a cynical disregard for the opinions of the voter. He is happy to call the public gullible.”…

Mark Pauly, a UPenn professor and co-panelist, said, “I thought it was a poor way of explaining what he was talking about — political expediency and the idea of reducing the subsidy of employment-based health insurance. If you explicitly said that people would tax your health benefits, that would be political dynamite. It was not really about voters being stupid but about the political process.”
Hearings floated as Hill Republicans seize on Gruber Obamacare comments
Congressional Republicans seized Wednesday on controversial commentsmade by a former health-care consultant to the Obama administration, with one leading House conservative suggesting that hearings could be called in response as part of the GOP effort to dismantle the law in the next Congress and turn public opinion ahead of the 2016 election.

"We may want to have hearings on this," said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), an influential voice among GOP hardliners and a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, in an interview at the Capitol. "We shouldn't be surprised they were misleading us."
I wonder if he'll plead the 5th?

And now on to some non-Gruber related Obamacare Schadenfreude

Roanoke City Public Schools will become the first area division to outsource its substitutes to a New Jersey-based company.
Beginning Jan. 5, Source4Teachers will staff the city’s substitute teachers, substitute aides and substitute clerical workers.

The move to privatize subs will cost about $1.6 million, and it is unclear whether it will save money. Officials have said it will help tame costs associated with the Affordable Care Act, as well as the law’s tracking and reporting requirements .

The Roanoke School Board voted unanimously during a meeting Tuesday to authorize the superintendent to enter into a contract with the firm, which has a state contract, and currently provides substitutes for two divisions in the Hampton Roads area.

The board first talked about outsourcing last month. Officials have said they were exploring the idea because the system faces escalating costs linked to the health care law’s mandate that beginning Jan. 1 employees working an average of 30 hours or more a week be offered health insurance.
‘People Are Going To Be In For A Shock': Penalty For Uninsured Not Signing Up For Obamacare To More Than Triple
Americans will see their bank accounts shrink if they don’t sign up for Obamacare in its second enrollment season.

Uninsured Americans who decide not to enroll will face a penalty of $325 per person, more than tripling the $95 penalty those who did not enroll had to pay the first time around. Children under the age of 18 will be fined $162.50. The maximum amount an uninsured family will be penalized is $975 under the flat-rate method.

“The penalty is meant to incentivize people to get coverage,” Laura Adams, senior analyst of, told CBS News. “This year, I think a lot of people are going to be in for a shock.”
Maybe people should have read the bill before they let their representatives pass it?  Oh, wait; they weren't allowed to.

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