You’re watching this less for the particulars, which are summarized well enough in the headline, than for the righteous spectacle of Jason Chaffetz tormenting this jackhole for his arrogant unaccountability. Gruber’s opening statement this morning was noteworthy for two things. One was his attempt to minimize his role in the creation of O-Care. I’m not the “architect” of the law, he insisted. I’m not a policymaker. I’m just an economist who ran “microsimulations” for the federal and state governments. That’s a lie, of course: Gruber helped write the statute, a fact he hasn’t been shy about noting before other audiences. The other key point was that, contrary to the YouTube clips of him crowing that the White House had put one over on stupid American voters in crafting the law, he says he thinks it was passed in a fully transparent manner. That’s also a lie (“if you like your plan” was transparency at work?), and that’s what Chaffetz is getting at here. American taxpayers have paid him millions for his health-care work over the last 10 years at the federal and state level. He produced plenty of documents in the course of that work; presumably, since they paid for them — and since this process is allegedly so transparent — the voters have a right to see them, yes?
Nope, says Gruber. You’ll need to talk to my lawyer if you’re interested in that.
You know what Gruber documents I want to see? Not his contracts with HHS and state governments, as interesting as they might be. What I want to see is what he said in correspondence about whether consumers who buy their new plans on the federal exchange are entitled to subsidies under the law. That’s the issue at the heart of the Halbig case that the Supreme Court will soon be hearing; Gruber famously claimed more than once in front of audiences that only consumers on individual state exchanges would be eligible for subsidies, a potential dagger in the White House’s heart as they prepare to argue Halbig in court. He tried to spin that today, claiming that his earlier statements were made on the assumption that all 50 states would eventually create their own exchanges. That means the feds would never need to create their own exchange, which in turn means federal consumers would never be eligible for subsidies — because there wouldn’t be any “federal consumers,” see? But this too is a lie: Go back and listen to the clip of Gruber in early 2012, years after O-Care was passed and several states had already declined to build exchanges of their own. Clearly, Gruber knew at the time that the feds might have to build their own exchange for those states; and yet, instead of saying “no biggie, federal consumers can get subsidies too,” he says the opposite, that the fact that consumers in those states can’t get subsidies should put political pressure on the state legislatures to think twice and build their own exchanges. The guy’s lying, straight up.