This week MIT economist and health care advisor Jonathan Gruber appeared before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to apologize for his controversial comments on the Affordable Care Act and the “stupidity” of the American public. WaPo:
“In some cases I made uninformed and glib comments about the political process behind health care reform. I am not an expert on politics and my tone implied that I was, which is wrong,” Gruber told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “It is never appropriate to try to make oneself seem more important or smarter by demeaning others. I know better. I knew better. I am embarrassed and I am sorry.” […]“I’m a professor of economics at MIT. I’m not a politician nor a political advisor,” Gruber said, stressing that his role with the administration was purely technical. “I did not draft Governor Romney’s health care plan, and I was not the ‘architect’ of President Obama’s health care plan.”
Gruber’s attempt to downplay his role in the ACA is unconvincing, for reasons we suggested here. But the most damming comments by Gruber were not his “glib” words about the American public but his accurate analysis of the Affordable Care Act. For instance, in one of the videos that became controversial, Gruber is taped saying “What the American public cares about is costs. And that’s why even though the bill that they made is 90% health insurance coverage and 10% about cost control, all you ever hear people talk about is cost control.” That is not glib; regardless of whether you think the law was sold deceptively in the way Gruber suggests, his understanding of the law’s focus on coverage over cost is correct. Whether or not Gruber was “the architect” of the law, whether or not his more noxious comment can fairly be associated with the law, he understands the law—and that is damming enough.