I am never short on appreciation for a David Rutz Supercut. Here is one we can all enjoy as Jonathan Gruber, after being caught on tape confessing his contempt for the American people and bragging about his intellect, must pretend that, yes, he is indeed contemptuous of the American people and callous about their lives, but that contempt is born of carelessness and ignorance, not calculation and superiority. I have to imagine that was the worst part of this for Gruber—for a man of such high self-regard to lower himself to careless and ignorant to excuse his actions.
He knew exactly what he was saying when he said it the first time. It’s essentially the job description of someone like Gruber to have the utmost confidence in his superiority to the hoi polloi and confer upon them his wisdom in the form of policy. Gruber stays one step away from the electoral accountability the now-decimated Democratic Senatorial ranks must face and gets paid well for sending them into battle with his flawed plan. Now, I concede we need people who study policy, who know the byzantine ins and outs of the federal government, and know how to make some policies succeed within its often toxic confines and turf wars. Even if a policy, say a simple regulatory revision that takes down some barriers, doesn’t attempt outsized social engineering, someone has to know how to usher it through the monster we’ve created.
This is why I tend to think one should keep his goals simpler when navigating the bureaucratic mess that is the federal government than bringing in some 35 agencies to totally remake 1/6 of the American economy while promising every single person in the country their costs will go down and they’ll see zero negative effects. Gruber and his allies did anything but keep it simple, but they believe in themselves and the infallible ability of the federal government to “do big things.” They lied about the things Americans wouldn’t like, which Americans sniffed out from Day One, and epically botched one of the arguably simpler parts of the process. Ironically, a conservative in charge of building HealthCare.gov would have doubted the federal government’s ability on this front a whole lot sooner (like someone I know did in 2012…)and maybe been able to salvage at least a working website for under $1 billion in taxpayer money.
But it’s Gruber’s job to know what’s best for you, and he’s rather glib about the consequences. He has the money to avoid them because Congress paid him a bunch of money to create them. It’s his job just like it’s IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s job to be utterly contemptuous of the American people and the damage the IRS may have done to them.
A Washington Post reporter wrote up Congresswoman’s Cynthia Lummis’ story about her husband fairly after the Gruber hearing, calling it the most emotional moment of the day. It was because it connected Gruber with the potential human consequences of all his faulty architecture. Get over your damn glibness, Lummis told Gruber. He can’t. It’s his job.