The Obama era is not yet over. But it’s safe to say the hallmark of America’s 44th presidency will not be Obamacare, deficits or foreign affairs. It will be the administration’s general, casual disregard for honesty, transparency and the rule of law.
IRS targeting; illegal recess appointments; rewriting the Clean Water Act to cover every rill and gully — and on and on.
Last week featured a series of late-surfacing videos in which Jonathan Gruber, an MIT professor and one of the architects of Obamacare, candidly described how officials snookered the public to pass the law.
The bill, Gruber said last year, “was written in a tortured way” to conceal its tax hikes, among other things. The administration abandoned this conceit in arguments before the Supreme Court, which upheld the law’s individual mandate as a tax increase.
“Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage,” Gruber concluded. “And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to get (Obamacare) to pass.”
In another video from March 2010, just as Congress was giving final approval to Obamacare, Gruber said the repeated talk about “bending the cost curve downward” was just that: talk.
Although Americans like the premise of cutting costs, they like specific cuts less. “That’s why no one has a politically feasible way right now to bend the cost curve,” Gruber suggested, “it just doesn’t exist.”
So why were we told so often that Obamacare would cut costs anyway? “Barack Obama’s not a stupid man, OK?”
No, one supposes that would just be the voters who believed Obama. (Republicans and most independents have pointed out these falsehoods for years, so Gruber presumably was referring to Democrats.)
By Thursday, Democrats’ urge to distance themselves from Gruber was so great that former Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she didn’t “know who he is.” This, although in 2009 Pelosi more than once cited Gruber’s review of the bill.
You see, besides “help(ing) write the bill,” as Gruber has described his work, the good professor also wrote an “objective analysis” of it, as a White House blog post from November 2009 put it. For something or other, Gruber was paid almost $400,000.
Gruber was also recorded at least twice saying Obamacare subsidies were available only to consumers on state-based exchanges, not the federal exchange. He now disavows these statements as oral typos, or “speakos,” while the administration fights a legal challenge to federal-exchange subsidies.
He and Pelosi are not the only ones who have been Gruber-ing. Consider Obama’s reported plan to halt deportation proceedings for more than 5 million illegal immigrants by executive order.
Such an action would ignore that “the biggest problems that we’re facing right now have to do with … trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all”; that there are “enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system”; that having the president “bypass Congress and change” immigration law himself is “not how our system works … not how our democracy functions … not how our Constitution is written.”
Who said those things? None other than Barack Obama.