Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Was there any doubt?
by Larry Simons
December 31, 2014
Despite the fact that I had not written this much in 2014 as compared to previous years would not have made any difference in my decision as MIT professor Jonathan Gruber as this year's Fraudie winner. He deserved it hands down.
One might think, "But why is he a fraud for inadvertently whistle-blowing the fact that the Affordable Care Act was passed by deceptive means? Doesn't this make him an unwitting hero?" The answer is "no". A big no. And here's why: Because Gruber, despite letting the cat out of the bag on numerous occasions [not knowing his words were captured on film], played a huge role in deceiving the American people. That alone makes him a colossal fraud. The fact that he subsequently spilled the beans to the American people, through no willful act of his own, makes him an arrogant and careless fraud.
Whistle-blowers sacrifice their careers and reputations to expose fraud. They do it willfully and announce it to the public on purpose. Gruber did none of the above. He arrogantly bragged in secret [or what he thought was secret] about it, took credit for it and had no remorse. In fact, he even apologized for saying it [a forced apology]. Whistle-blowers don't apologize.
In November, a serious of videos surfaced showing the MIT professor and prime Obamacare architect revealing that the Affordable Care Act needed a lack of transparency in order to be passed as law. This "lack of transparency" Gruber stated, was essential to deceive the "stupid American voter."
In a clip from October 2013, Gruber stated this:
"Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass. Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”
This was an odd revelation, since just eight months prior to these comments by Gruber, Obama made the claim that his administration was the most transparent administration in history.
After the October 2013 video surfaced, scores of more videos came crawling out of the woodwork showing Gruber making similar statements. After the first video went viral, Gruber made an appearance on national television, lied and stated that he "spoke off the cuff and inappropriately", as if to pass it off as an isolated gaffe. In reality, he said it on may other occasions in different video clips at different times and different settings.
Just nine days prior to his "stupid American voter" comment made in October 2013, Gruber stated, "the American people are too stupid to understand the difference" and this was why the law was passed.
Video #3 from November 2013 showed Gruber stated because of the "lack of economic understanding of the American voter", the administration was able to exploit Americans to hide the fact that Obamacare was a direct tax on the customer.
"I have been making this speech for twelve years and people would come up to me and say, ‘but wait a second you’re going to tax my heath insurance?’ And I’d say no, no, no! We’re going to tax subsidies on your health insurance. And they’d go ‘you’re going to tax my heath insurance?’ And you just can’t get through its politically impossible. So despite the fact we thought we might get this as part of the law it was going to be dead.”
“Until a second Massachusetts hero arose, John Kerry. John Kerry said no-no we’re not going to tax your heath insurance, we’re going to tax those evil insurance companies. We’re going to impose a tax that if they sell health insurance that’s too expensive we’re going to tax them. And conveniently the tax rate will happen to be the marginal tax rate on the income tax code. So basically it’s the same thing – we just tax insurance companies, they pass on higher prices, that offsets the tax break we get into being the same thing. It’s a very clever basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter."
Video #4 from June 2012 shows Gruber being interviewed by Frontline in which he states that Obama knew the Cadillac tax was going to be a big problem so they all agreed to lie about it. Gruber stated:
"Now, the problem is, it’s a political nightmare, … and people say, “No, you can’t tax my benefits.” So what we did a lot in that room was talk about, well, how could we make this work? And Obama was like, “Well, you know” — I mean, he is really a realistic guy. He is like, “Look, I can’t just do this.” He said: “It is just not going to happen politically. The bill will not pass. How do we manage to get there through phases and other things?” And we talked about it. And he was just very interested in that topic."
Video #5 from February 2011 showed Gruber at a meeting of the Vermont House Representatives Committee in which a letter was read by Democratic committee Chairman Mark Larson in which a concerned citizen expresses his concerns about Obamacare, as Gruber listens.
After the reading of the letter, Gruber relies, "Was this written by my adolescent children by any chance?"
Just so happens the letter was written by two-term Vermont State Senator John McClaughry who was an adviser to President Reagan in the 1980's and who knew a great deal about the health care system.
Then, on December 9, Gruber appeared in front of the House Oversight Committee and blatantly lied by telling everyone, "I did not draft Governor Romney's health plan, and I was not the architect of President Obama's health care plan".
watch him say this at the 1:05 mark in the following video
But in this video, we see Gruber admitting to a group of MIT students in 2012 that he did write the Affordable Care Act, openly showcasing his monumental lie to the House Oversight committee.
In the above video [at the 8:29 mark], Gruber states:
"You're hearing a lot of discussion now about the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act, which passed last March 23. This was the single most important piece of government legislation, perhaps, since World War II. Uh, certainly the most significant piece of domestic social policy legislation since Medicare was introduced in 1965. What does this bill do? Well, this bill tries to...and let me...full disclaimer, I'm going to describe objectively but I helped write it. I'll be objective, I'll try to be objective but just, full disclaimer, I was involved in writing the legislation, so there is some bias involved here."
As if things cannot get any worse, then we hear about the fact that Gruber openly admitted in 2009 that the ACA had no cost controls whatsoever and would not be affordable.
In a 2009 policy brief written by Gruber himself, in the section titled "Cost Control", Gruber said this:
"This is an important issue to understand and put in the context of the current debate. There are basically two types of cost control.
What I call win-win cost control sounds good and does good. But it doesn’t save any money.
• Invest in information technology, electronic medical records. Great idea; it won’t save any money, but it will improve the quality of our health care.
• Preventive care; great idea, it will improve our health, but there’s no evidence it will actually save us any money.
• Comparative effectiveness research and guidelines, study what works and what doesn’t. How can you be against studying what works? But it doesn’t matter just to study it. Unless you tell doctors they can’t do it, it’s not going to save any money to just know it doesn’t work. We know lots of things don’t work that people still get.
The real substance of cost control is all about a single thing: telling patients they can’t have something they want.
• It’s about telling patients, “That surgery doesn’t do any good, so if you want it you have to pay the full cost.” It’s basically about saying that we as a society are going to have a minimal insurance package that reimburses effective treatments but that makes people pay on their own for ineffective treatments.
• It doesn’t deny treatment. For instance, in England you can’t get an organ transplant if you are over a certain age. That may be good policy or not, but it will never happen in this country, not in our lifetime.
There’s no reason the American health care system can’t be, “You can have whatever you want, you just have to pay for it.” That’s what we do in other walks of life. We don’t say everyone has to have a large screen TV. If you want a large screen TV, you have to pay for it. Basically the notion would be to move to a level where everyone has a solid basic insurance level of coverage. Above that people pay on their own, without tax-subsidized dollars, to buy a higher level of coverage."
Later in the brief Gruber says this:
"But it’s not a short-run problem. Sure, we would like health care to be a little cheaper, or the cost to rise more slowly, but Americans aren’t ready to deal with the hard measures we’d have to take to get health care costs under control. That’s why I’ve been arguing strenuously that even though the bills that will come out of this process in the end won’t do a whole lot about cost control, they’re still a critical first step.
Because, to wax political economy here for a second, what’s the history of health care reform in the US? We have tried on average every 17.9 years for the last 50 years to have a major health reform, and every time it’s been killed because the people who would get hurt by cost controls have opposed it.
So what’s different this time? Why are we closer than we’ve ever been before? Because there are no cost controls in these proposals. Because this bill’s about coverage. Which is good! Why should we hold 48 million uninsured people hostage to the fact that we don’t yet know how to control costs in a politically acceptable way? Let’s get the people covered and then let’s do cost control.
Now you might say “That’s a leap of faith—just getting people covered makes the costs go up.” But look at what happened in Massachusetts. They pushed through a universal coverage bill. About six months later they realized, “Whoa, wait a second! We’d better get health care costs under control or we’re not going to be able to afford this program.” So they lobbied and the Massachusetts legislature passed one of the most important health care cost control pieces of legislation in the country, which set up a commission that recommended—we’re working on the legislation now—to move to a new physician reimbursement system to try to deal with some of the excesses that these powerful hospitals are charging for care. That happened because first we got to universal coverage. Now everyone is pulling in the same direction.
It’s the same in the US. We need to get the coverage question out of the way, get everyone pulling in the same direction, and then we’ll get to cost control. But if people hold out for a bill that controls health care costs we won’t have a bill. And then 48 million people, 50 million a year later, and so on, will still be uninsured. That really is a moral failure."
So much for the Affordable Care Act. Not only was it passed based on a lack of transparency, but now we find out it was never meant to be affordable to begin with.
Not only was the bill passed out of deception and lies but the bill itself has no cost control proposals in it anywhere, as admitted by the architect himself. You might say that Gruber also shares this award with the ACA law itself as being a fraud on its own. But since Gruber is the architect, regardless of what he tells our House Oversight committee, he gets full credit for fooling everyone who has accepted this law hook, line and sinker....namely Democrats, since no Republican voted for this law.