However much the ACA’s supporters insist that Grubergate is a distraction, this scandal has legs. When the videos of MIT professor Jonathan Gruber first broke, the Obama Administration sought to distance itself from the fallout by denying any special relationship with Gruber. But now that defense is appearing less and less credible. Steve Rattner, a former adviser to President Obama who was unoffically known as the “car czar” for his work with Obama on the auto industry, recently claimed that Gruber was “the man” behind the ACA. Politico reports:
“Jonathan Gruber was, back in the day in 2009, the guru on health care,” said Rattner….“I remember that when I was in the White House, he was certainly viewed as an important figure in helping to put Obamacare together.”“I think if you go back and look at the Washington Post or the New York Times or anything from that period you will find Jonathan Gruber’s name all over it as both someone who’s the leading expert on health care quoted by everybody, and as someone who the White House was using — I don’t think we knew the dollar numbers he was paid at the time.”
The scandal has become serious enough that mainstream outlets like CNN are taking notice. CNN focuses on the video in which Gruber claims that the “Cadillac Tax” on the most generous employer-provided health care plans was imposed with an eye to phasing out employer-provided health care. Limiting or eliminating employer-provided health care is a policy aim shared by many on both sides of the political aisle, but doing so would cause enormous chaos and would be very difficult, politically, to pull off. So, Gruber claims, the Administration tried a back door—and if Rattner is even remotely right, Gruber is in a position to know.The problem here is not the policy per se but the secrecy and opacity under which this law was foisted on the public. Even had the ACA been more effective, revelations like this would erode public trust in the intentions of their representatives. At a time when public trust is already a scarce commodity, the Administration’s denial of Gruber’s importance to the ACA will likely be taken as another indication of how dishonest our leaders have become.