In November, video surfaced of Jonathan Gruber, a chief architect of President Obama’s health care law, admitting that “lack of transparency” and “the stupidity of the American voter … was really, really critical to getting” ObamaCare passed into law.
Given that so many of President Obama’s promises about the law turned out to be untrue – “if you like your plan, you can keep it” being a prime example – the White House immediately sought to control the damage by distancing itself from Gruber’s candid but extremely unhelpful comments.
President Obama claimed that Gruber was just “some adviser who was never on our staff,” but that was ridiculous. Gruber was paid for his work on ObamaCare, White House visitor logs show he was a regular visitor, and he even bragged about meeting with the president. In a 2006 video, Obama referred to Gruber by name as one of the “brightest minds … I have stolen ideas from liberally.” In December, Gruber testified to Congress that he “was not the ‘architect’ of” ObamaCare – but then a 2010 video was unearthed of him saying “I helped write it.”
This week, The Wall Street Journal put to rest any doubts, revealing new emails from January 2009 through March 2010 that showed Gruber “worked more closely than previously known with the White House and top federal officials to shape the law”:
The emails show frequent consultations between Mr. Gruber and top Obama administration staffers and advisers in the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services on the Affordable Care Act. They show he informed HHS about interviews with reporters and discussions with lawmakers, and he consulted with HHS about how to publicly describe his role. …
The emails show Mr. Gruber was in touch with key advisers such as Peter Orszag, who was director of the Office of Management and Budget, an arm of the White House that oversaw federal programs.
He was also in contact with Jason Furman, an economic adviser to the president, and Ezekiel Emanuel, who was then a special adviser for health policy at OMB.
One email indicates Mr. Gruber was invited to meet with Mr. Obama. In a July 2009 email, he wrote that Mr. Orszag had “invited me to meet with the head honcho to talk about cost control.”
“Thank you for being an integral part of getting us to this historic moment,” according to Sept. 9, 2009 email to Mr. Gruber from Jeanne Lambrew, a top Obama administration health adviser who worked at HHS and the White House. In a November 2009 email, she called Mr. Gruber “our hero.”
In an August 2009 email, Lawrence Summers—then a top economic adviser in the administration—emailed Mr. Gruber and asked “if you were POTUS, what would u do now?” Mr. Gruber responded that Mr. Obama should hold out for enough money to do universal coverage. …
In a Jan. 14, 2010 email, Mr. Furman emailed that “we got a deal with labor. Keep that very close hold.” Unions had been opposing the health law but rallied to support it. …
In a Sept. 23, 2009, email, Mr. Gruber emailed Ms. Lambrew saying “pharma is going to be a huge winner from this bill—maybe $15 billion/year in incremental revenue. Any way to go after them harder for financing?”
There was also a May 2009 email in which Gruber estimated there would be “3.6 million losers” who would be “largely young and healthy” but still forced into the insurance market under ObamaCare, costing them billions of dollars.
“Did the White House lie about Mr. Gruber’s involvement?” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough asked in reaction to these emails.
“It certainly appears they did,” his co-host Mika Brzezinski replied, as panelists Harold Ford and Howard Dean, both Democrats, sheepishly joked that the White House was “not fully forthcoming.”
If the Obama administration was so deceptive about the extent of Gruber’s involvement – which was merely a political problem – how can it be trusted to tell the truth about more serious issues? After all, the missing, secret, or withheld emails of former IRS official Lois Lerner, former Attorney General Eric Holder, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other administration officials involve potentially criminal behavior.