Government Watch

Jonathan Gruber in the Hot Seat at House Oversight Hearing

By – Peter A. Finocchio

On Tuesday, December 9, 2014, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, one of the key architects of ObamaCare, appeared before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform alongside Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator, Marilyn Tavenner, in a hearing that focused on the lack of transparency surrounding both the passage and implementation of the health care law. Gruber was taken to task by both Republicans and Democrats for his now infamous and derisive comments about “the stupidity of the American voter” and his claims about the need to deceive the American people in order to pass the law. “Professor Gruber is often said in Washington to be the definition of a gaffe,” Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) noted in his opening remarks, adding “that’s when somebody accidentally tells the truth.” Republicans sought to show that Dr. Gruber’s remarks were indicative of the lack of transparency with which Democrats passed and are implementing their health care law. Democrats sought to distance themselves and the Obama Administration from Gruber’s indefensible comments, while continuing to defend the flawed law.

Gruber was intransigently uncooperative with Republican lawmakers throughout the testimony, refusing even to disclose how much he was paid, at taxpayer expense, for his work. “You’re making it very clear that we’re not only going to have to discuss with your counsel but we’re going to have to serve a subpoena,” Chairman Issa told Gruber, annoyed by his refusal to answer simple questions. “The fact that every answer is ‘well discuss with my lawyer’ makes it very clear that we’re going to have to do more investigating and likely you will be back here before the new Chairman.”

Congressman Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI) denounced the Administration’s repeated ObamaCare statements as “lies on top of lies,” and he further denounced Gruber as “a co-conspirator in deceiving the American people.” When pressed about his comments and about ObamaCare specifics, Gruber hid behind the fact that he wasn’t a politician and therefore didn’t have this knowledge. “I have listened to you all morning about your lack of political acumen and how you therefore don’t know not to call the American people stupid,” Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) commented. “Mr. Gruber you have progressed in your ability to be political,” Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI), who assumed temporary chairmanship of the Committee, noted. Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC) came to a similar conclusion. “You have made over 20 statements this morning that you are not political, and yet the American people who are watching this morning would say that you are being political.” He held. “Your statement is contrived, it is orchestrated, and it is honestly not transparent.”

The Committee’s interest in Dr. Gruber even went beyond the realm of his recent comments. Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) interrogated Gruber on his disturbing past observations on abortion. In a May 1997 article that he co-authored for the National Bureau of Economic Research, Gruber inferred decades of legalized abortion has helped improve our nation’s economy and social environment. Unsettlingly referring to children not born as a result of abortion as “marginal,” Gruber and his two fellow writers held that these aborted children “would have systematically been born into worse circumstances had the pregnancies not been terminated.” The analysis also posited that abortion had saved the federal government over $14 billion in welfare payments. Breitbart has surmised that Gruber’s “abortion advocacy is of a particularly pungent eugenics variety.” Gruber insisted that his paper “was not a philosophical paper” but was “about historical facts.” Continuing to divorce epistemological insight from ethical implication, Gruber added, “I have no philosophy of abortion. I have no philosophy of end of life care. My job as an economist is to deliver the empirical facts.” These glib responses did not satisfy Rep. Massie. “What you inferred, I find chilling,” Massie remarked. “What you inferred is if you reduce the number of children born, life will be better for those of us still living.” Concerns over Gruber’s own controversial views on human life are magnified when combined with the fact that this man was one of the key architects of ObamaCare. Many older Americans continue to worry that ObamaCare’s limited resources could lead to rationing of health care. Furthermore, some ObamaCare plans continue to fund “non-excepted abortion services” (for pregnancies that are not a result of rape or incest or ones that do not threaten the life of the mother) at taxpayer expense.

The Obama Administration and their allies in Congress have been quick to distance themselves from Gruber since several videos emerged of him insulting the intelligence of American voters and discussing the ways in which lawmakers were able to mask the true nature of the law in order to get it passed. Chairman Issa noted in his opening remarks that the Administration even resisted the decision to have him appear before Congress and urged the Committee not to seat him by their witness, Marilyn Tavenner. In their treatment of Gruber’s remarks in the Committee hearing, Democrats appeared to be more concerned about their political blowback than about the economist’s apparent elitist disdain for the American people or his cynical statements about the need to deceive the American voters. The Committee’s Ranking Member, Elijah Cummings (D-MD), eviscerated Gruber in his opening remarks, exclaiming, “I am extremely frustrated with Dr. Gruber’s statements. They were irresponsibly, incredibly disrespectful, and did not reflect reality.” Later, he added, “Worst of all, Dr. Gruber’s statements gave Republicans a public relations gift in their relentless political campaign to tear down the ACA and eliminate healthcare for millions of Americans.”

A last-minute addition to the hearing panel, an independent consultant and Washington, D.C. resident Ari Goldmann, argued the success of ObamaCare by narrating his own ability to find lower-cost, better-value coverage under the new law. Republicans argued that while some may have been able to find better coverage and were therefore the perfect “poster child” for ObamaCare, the majority were worse off as a result of the law. Chairman Issa told the stories of many such individuals. Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) gave a heartfelt account of how her husband had died in his sleep from a massive heart attack after he had declined one last heart test because he had lost his health coverage due to ObamaCare. “I want to suggest that regardless of what happened to me personally, that there have been so many glitches in the passage and implementation of ObamaCare that have real life consequences on people’s lives and the so-called glibness that has been referenced today have direct consequences for real American people,” she concluded.

AMAC has opposed ObamaCare from the start. We will continue to fight for repeal and replacement. We also urge an independent investigation into the apparent attempt by Administration officials to conceal this law’s flaws from the American people. Gruber’s snide condescension toward “we the people” is suggestive of the attitudes of the lawmakers who passed ObamaCare and the bureaucratic administrators who are carrying out its decrees. Despite what Democrats claim, there has been a profound lack of transparency surrounding ObamaCare since its inception. We were told by the former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA,) that we needed to pass the bill to find out what was in it. Lawmakers who disagreed with the bill were shut out from the negotiation process and their own counter-proposals weren’t even considered. For years, President Obama delayed the most harmful provisions of the law in order to postpone the political backlash against himself and his party. Only now are more people beginning to see the law for what it is – and it is hurting real people. Contrary to what Jonathan Gruber believes, it was not the “stupidity” of the American voter that could have thwarted ObamaCare, but our intelligence.

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John
6 years ago

Gruber’s actions and comments should not surprise anyone. This administration’s outright lies and obfuscations are notorious. That’s the way the left works- achieve the agenda no matter what means you have to use.

Sally
6 years ago

I love C. Randall’s comment about Nancy Pelosi! That really made my night.
She’s dumber than a box of rocks.
And don’t forget Margaret Sanger; she believed in Eugenics. Liberals praise her and say how much she did for birth-control and Women’s Lib. Libs also have a hidden agenda.

Glenn
6 years ago

I read elsewhere that Mr Gruber thinks abortion is good for America because it keeps poor urban children from being born and ultimately becoming criminals or welfare recipients. That philosophy is called eugenics and was the philosophy followed by Hitler when killing millions of Jews and other “undesirables.”

PaulE
6 years ago
Reply to  Glenn

You’re thinking of Ezekiel Emanuel, Rahm’s brother, who is one of the other architects of Obamacare. Eugenics is very popular amongst socialists. It’s the ultimate “social engineering” practice.

Glenn
6 years ago
Reply to  PaulE

My source:
by AUSTIN RUSE 7 Dec 2014 1100 POST A COMMENT

ObamaCare Architecht Says Americans are too Stupid for Transparency
The Black Sphere

00:00 / 00:52
Embattled MIT professor Jonathan Gruber has not only gotten in trouble for bragging about helping President Obama put one over on the American people with Obamacare, he’s also been uncovered as an abortion advocate—but not a run-of-the-mill advocate of “women’s rights.”
No, Gruber’s abortion advocacy is of a particularly pungent eugenics variety. He’s on record repeatedly making the case from social science that abortion is a “social good” because it reduces the number of “marginal children,” by which he means urban poor—those he says can be counted on to commit crimes if they were ever born.
Gruber co-authored a paper during the Clinton years which argued that legal abortion had saved the U.S. taxpayer upwards of $14 billion in welfare benefits and that it also lowered crime.
Gruber’s work heavily influenced other researchers, including a paper called The Impact of Legalized Abortion by Steven Levitt of the University of Chicago, whose later book Freakonomics and whose ongoing work makes the strongest case that abortion legalizations in the 1970s caused a dramatic drop in crime twenty years later.
Pro-lifers have always wondered why the black community has not responded more aggressively to the fact that so many abortion clinics are located in poor neighborhoods and why the black abortion rate is so much higher than whites.
A documentary called Maafa 21 argues that abortion is a part of what they called a “black genocide.”
African-American marketing expert Ryan Scott Bomberger founded an organization called The Radiance Foundation that makes commercials for the unborn child with a special emphasis on the high incidence of black abortion. Emmy-wining Bomberger’s toomanyaborted.com campaign looks specifically at black abortion. One meme calls abortion a “civil wrong” and that blacks are “still not free at last” because of abortion. Bomberger is being sued by the NAACP for calling the group “pro-abortion.”
A group called 41 Percent tracks all abortions in New York City, which has an abortion rate at twice the national average, points out that the abortion rate in the largely black borough of The Bronx is an astounding 47%.
These are the types of communities Gruber meant when he referred the “marginal children” who were the most likely to end up on welfare and committing crimes if they were allowed to be born.

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PaulE
6 years ago
Reply to  Glenn

Hi Glenn,

This is the identical perspective on eugenics and its supposed “benefits to society”, that Ezekiel Emanuel has outlined in several of his books and academic position papers over the last 20 years. That Gruber also shares the same outlook is not surprising. Eugenics has been very popular with Socialists since the early 1900’s. As I said, the vast majority of Socialists view eugenics as a very acceptable and even preferable means of social engineering a model society.

Dr. Emanuel has covered not only the abortion side of eugenics, but the euthanasia side as well. You should read a few of his position papers where he outlines medical treatment for elderly should effectively end after age 75. As that represents, in his view, a full life for the average person. After that age, the elderly are supposed to simply either receive pain pills or be allowed to end their lives. All with the expressed goal of preventing further “unnecessary” cost to society as a whole.

Of course the Progressive / Socialist movement had to change tactics a bit regarding eugenics, after fellow Socialist Adolf Hitler gave the world a first hand look at what a one version of a real-world eugenics policy would look like in practice. Since then the Progressive / Socialist movement has had to become very marketing savvy to get public buy-in. They’ve had to sell the public on the supposed “benefits” of abortion, as well as euthanasia, so they could cover both ends of the life spectrum.

Glenn
6 years ago
Reply to  PaulE

Yes. I have heard of Dr Emanuel and his position that people should only live until the age of 75. I also heard that he has Mr Obama’s ear when he proposed things like that. Scares me!

C. Randall
6 years ago

When former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA,) said, “that we needed to pass the bill to find out what was in it.”
Sounds an awful lot like what a proctologist tells you when you need a rectal exam. Pass it so we can examine it. Maybe if she was given one, an exam, they might find that brain tumor that renders her unable to think clearly.
PASS IT TO FIND OUT WHAT WAS IN IT??????
This comes from the Peoples Republic of California.

Ivan Berry
6 years ago

Think back to all the hearings that Congress has had over the past six years. Has Issa and the boys accomplished anything of substance? Has anything been resolved? Or have the Republicans just provided more smoke for the mirrors of the Democrats?
The most obvious aspect is that whenever something comes up, something else comes up to distract before any resolution is made. If a screw up occurs, another screw up can bump it off the media’s agenda, giving ample time for politicians to talk talk talk without ever actually doing anything constructive.
The people should be tired by now of all these hearings and should be ready for some doings. Is it possible that the establishment of both parties just want to continue on with hearings and more hearings until the people are so put to sleep that they can then “do” what they really want while the people just zzzzzzz away?
PAULE is right in labeling this instance as a mishandled opportunity and many of the questions as trivial. But has it ever been otherwise whenever a Committee gathers to have a hearing on anything? Those who have been around a long time, think on it. Has Congress accomplished anything in your recollection by conducting a hearing? Oh, and if so, could you respond with examples?

PaulE
6 years ago
Reply to  Ivan Berry

Ivan,

Exactly the point I was trying to get across. All we were treated to, with the Gruber hearings, was yet another completely useless “Dog and Pony” show. All of which accomplished absolutely NOTHING of substance. Instead of asking truly probative questions, which would have at a minimum provided an education experience for the general public that is either completely unaware of important issues or simply fixated on the “stupid people” comment, what we were treated to was yet another “procedural exercise” (Congressional grandstanding for the purpose of creating photo ops). This has been pretty much the same pattern for several years now. Now that the Griber hearings are over, we already see that Congress considers the matter closed and has moved on to the next “issue of the day”.

I’m pretty sure we’re all tired of this pattern of much-hyped Congressional hearings, which then turn out to be little more than the various Congressional members reading prepared speeches to whomever is seated before them. What we all want and expect is positive action to do something to address the issue. Whether that be using the Congressional power of the purse to scale back or de-fund programs or federal agencies or by revising existing laws by embedding changes to them in must-pass legislation Obama has no choice to sign. The point is Congress has to accomplish something positive for the people. They cannot simply think that holding an endless stream of hearings, which produce NO meaningful, positive changes to the issue at hand, constitutes “doing their job”. That’s not governance. That’s a debating society.

Republicans cannot hide under their desks for the next two years for fear of being labeled “the people that shutdown the government”, simply for doing the job that the people sent them to Washington to perform. As I said in my original post, the Democrats will likely use that federal government shutdown threat for virtually EVERY SINGLE ISSUE that the Republicans seek to address. So the GOP leadership needs to grow a spine and do the job they were sent there to do, while at the same time effectively articulating that it is NOT Republicans shuttting anything down, but Obama and the Democrats throwing a hissy fit against the American people if they don’t get their way on everything. If the Republicans can’t articulate that simple message properly, then we have a much larger issue than them being spineless and ineffectual.

dan
6 years ago

same o same o. the only way (we the people) will regain control of who the servant is. (WWW.FAIRTAX.ORG). will put the power in the peoples hands. please check it out.

Rik
6 years ago

Hi Earl: … Forgive me, but I, personally DO NOT TRUST ANY POLITICIAN WHO WENT TO LAW SCHOOL, PERIOD. I know Ted Cruz says all the right things and votes that way, but it’s easy to take a stance (he might not really agree with) knowing it really doesn’t matter because your side is always losing anyway. He might say all the right things about not backing Amnesty, but what politician of Hispanic descent from Texas, where I’m sure has mucho, many Hispanics going to “stab” his ancestry in the back and be accused of “turncoat traitor” and lose those “sure thing” votes. Sorry, but too many law school educated politicians prove me correct. Barak Obama was against gay marriage before being elected President and then what? … He saw the light! … How about his current reversal on issuing an Executive Order on Amnesty? … I know, he’s entitled to change his mind! … Well, I don’t trust that lawyer politician Ted Cruz wouldn’t pull the same crap! Like I said, let him prove “his” conservative stance by proving he can uphold and enforce the current Constitution by serving as Attorney General and I’ll gladly change my mind about him. … Though i don’t really feel he’ll prove me wrong! … Chameleons can change their colors, but lawyers are lawyers, first and always!

Earl
6 years ago
Reply to  Rik

As I said below, Ted Cruz is a lifetime conservative. He was traveling around the country giving speeches on conservatism when he was in high school. His father is a lifetime conservative who was imprisoned in Cuba for speaking out against Fidel Castro. He knows nothing but conservatism. If he votes conservatively it is because he is voting what he believes. When he spent 24 hours filibustering against funding Obama care in September, 2013, you apparently didn’t notice that. No one has done more to try to stop Obama’s socialist agenda than Ted Cruz has. The 23rd district of Texas, which is almost 70% Hispanic, just voted out their democratic Hispanic Congressman, Pete Gallego, in favor of Will Hurd, a non-Hispanic Republican who ran as a conservative, so it’s not always about ethnicity or race. Sometimes it’s about conservative principles. You have said several times that Ben Carson can probably attract more of the black vote, but I wouldn’t count on that, because there is nobody that most black democrats hate more than they do a black conservative. Your point about amnesty for illegals is almost a moot point, since, thanks to people like Obama, Reid, McConnell, Boehner, and a number of others, they already just about have amnesty. I don’t like it any more than you do, either.

Rik
6 years ago
Reply to  Earl

Earl, as I stated, Ted Cruz says all the right things, but he is still an attorney and I will not trust him until he proves he’s just not another “reasonable doubt” spewing attorney politician. Obama said ALL the right things too, a regular second coming of the “messiah” so to speak. … And look what we got … Probably the worst President in the history of our country and a law school educated so-called Constitutional scholar at that! I don’t trust ALL attorney politicians, Ted Cruz is just one of 57 U.S. Senators that went to law school. Are there exceptions to the rule, of course, and I hope Mr. Cruz is that exception. But this country cannot afford another Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, Chuckie Schlmiel, Diane Finestein, Mitch McConnell, etc, etc, etc. I hope he proves me wrong but I won’t be surprised if I’m proven right.

Earl
6 years ago
Reply to  Rik

Rik, Obama was a socialist long before he went to law school. He was introduced to his childhood mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, in the autumn of 1970 by his maternal grandfather, Stanley Dunham. Frank Marshall Davis was a card carrying (#47544) member of the Communist Party, whose sole allegiance was to the Soviet Union. Davis was probably the strongest influence of any adult in Obama’s life from age 11 until age 18. He mentioned Davis 22 times in his 1995 book and many more times as he, him etc., only calling him Frank. When the audio version of the book came out in 2005 all mention of Davis had been removed. He sought out people of similar beliefs after he was older, but I think you know all this; people like Bill Ayers, Saul Alinsky, and Jeremiah Wright. His parents and grandparents were socialists, so it’s not just something that comes from going to law school. I knew that he was a socialist long before he got elected the first time. I have a sister who is a liberal, and she never went to law school.

Earl
6 years ago
Reply to  Rik

One other thing, Rik, Ted Cruz’s second highest conservative rating in the Senate has nothing to do with anything he has said, which you keep going back to. His rating is based entirely on his voting record; nothing else. Cruz is ranked #2 by conservativereview.com; #1 by Club for Growth; #2 by Heritage Action; #3 by jbs.org; #3 by Freedom Works, and #1 by conservativeunion. They all go by his voting record.

Rik
6 years ago

Tuesday and Wednesday newscasts NEVER mentioned anything about Jon Gruber ever even appearing before a Congressional Committee to “testify” about his “bragging” comments on numerous occasions. Since I don’t have cable tv, I only caught very small excerpts from conservative blogs. What I didn’t hear being asked by Repuplican committee members was … “Mr. Gruber, were you lying when you made these comments then, or are you lying now by defending those comments, you made on numerous occasions I might add? … But then again, why should we believe anything you now have to say?” … “Why would you make these comments if you really didn’t believe them in the first place?” … “The only conclusion we can come to is that you’re a liar, plain and simple!” … “Who needs to hear anything you now have to say?”

Very disappointing, but then again, these politicians know the shoe can easily be on their own foot. Unfortunately this is typical of what we citizenry should come to expect from both our politicians and our media!

Real Conservative Republican (Tea Party) candidates NEED to exploit Jon Gruber’s comments and the Rino Republicans lack of expected response in winning the Republican Party nominations in upcoming elections. I am so tired of being “lied to” by Rino Republicans who tell us what we want to hear and then ignore us after the elections. Maybe it’s time for Conservatives to break away and form a major third party and force the Rinos to become Democrats, which we already know from their actions anyway! … Otherwise, we can look forward to losing the White House in 2016 with another milk toast Rino candidate like Romney, Jeb Bush or Cris Christie … No thanks! … And NO LAWYERS EITHER, they’re professional liars by trade and I don’t trust any of them! Sorry, Ted Cruz, you say ALL the right things but I’ll still NEVER trust you! … Give me Dr. Ben Carson’s message of doing what’s right for the people first and NOT Wall Street or Big Business Corporations that throw mucho dollars to their campaigns to “own” their votes. Amnesty funding for example!

I endorse a slate of Dr. Ben Carson for President, Mike Huckaby for Vice President and let’s have Ted Cruz prove his Conservativeness by being Attorney General. At least then he can be “fired” asap if necessary. Will I vote for Ted Cruz if he wins the nomination, sure! … But no way in hell will I trust him until his actions speak louder than his words! He’ll not vote for amnesty funding only because it will pass without his support anyway. Maybe if his last name was Cruzinski, I might believe him. He’s a lawyer by profession, lying is 2nd nature to ALL lawyers. In that, lies the truth of ALL LAWYERS!!!

Earl
6 years ago
Reply to  Rik

Ted Cruz has the second highest conservative voting record of any Senator, according to conservativereview.com, and is a lifelong conservative; whereas Ben Carson is a reformed left wing radical. What is his voting record, Rik? I like Ben Carson, but what is his record? Ted Cruz’s votes have already spoken as loud as his words.

Rik
6 years ago
Reply to  Earl

Earl, sorry my other comments on Ted Cruz were printed above my original message. As to Dr. Ben Carson, just watching him refute political correctness at the White House breakfast with Obama sitting right there bought a ton of credibility with me and many others. I do believe He’s seen the light or error of Progressive ways and truly will put the American people first before catering to Wall Street. Besides, his nomination would not be “controlled” by the GOP establishment and he would “win” many Blacks to his cause. That just might be enough to offset the “female” votes that either Hillary or Elizabeth Warren would pull from Republicans. Both of which would get clobbered by Dr. Ben in debates. … When Dr. Ben speaks, he makes common sense ideas that people can endorse. Lawyer politicians make promises they have no intention of keeping, they will say whatever it takes to win! Ted Cruz not withstanding is still a lawyer who can’t help not spewing “reasonable doubt” answers, it’s 2nd nature with ALL lawyers! As I said, he would get my vote if he is our candidate, but it would be relunctantly given.

PaulE
6 years ago

Another mishandled opportunity to highlight, for the majority American people still blissfully oblivious to what is transpiring around them, the Progressive mindset and larger agenda that is running rampant, not only through academia, but also through much of Washington as well. The Republicans had a golden opportunity with one of the architects of both RomneyCare and Obamacare, if they had bothered to pursue a more intelligent line of questioning than they did, to showcase what the Progressive “vision for America” really amounts to and total the disdain the Progressive (Socialist) movement has for the average person.

Instead we were treated to a combination of what I considered to be largely trivial questions, like those centered around how much Gruber was paid (Look up the info Congressman Issa! It’s all been on-line for weeks.), and a series of what I call “photo op” statements being recited by various members of the committee. The latter of which is designed to provide “face time”, so they say to their constituents back home that they’re hard at work. Unfortunately, by wasting their allotted questioning time by simply making what amounts to speeches, they squandered the opportunity to educate the American public as to what Progressives are intentionally doing to this country and what they still plan to do in the future.

The next Congress has to be far more focused and prudent with its time in the next two years. Should another opportunity ever present itself to query one of the many Progressive “stars” who have helped shape the Progressive (Socialist) agenda here in the United States, the members of Congress have to step up their game and advance a much more rigorous line of questioning designed to expose the Progressive methodology for the American people to see and understand.

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