Gruber Lets Obama's Socialist Cat Out of the Bag

Ken Blackwell is Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment and Bob Morrison is Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at Family Research Council. This article appeared in The American Thinker on November 17, 2014.

Not since the Kermit Gosnell murder trial has the mainstream press labored so diligently to ignore a hot story.  Rush Limbaugh delights in calling them “the drive-by media,” but in the case of Kermit Gosnell’s trial for the negligent death of a poor young woman and for killing many infants born alive, the liberal media mostly drove around the story – staying as far away from it as they could.  Conservative websites showed the row upon row of empty seats reserved for the press in that Philadelphia courtroom.  There were, of course, most honorable exceptions among liberal journalists.  Kirsten Powers wrote in USA Today of the horrors.  And Conor Friedersdorf wrote this powerful column on the website of The Atlantic.  

Now, we have another case of the drive-by media mostly driving by. Dr. Jonathan Gruber, MIT economist, was an architect of the satirically named Affordable Care Act.  Videos are surfacing of the good professor bragging about how the legislation was deliberately drafted in an opaque manner so that it was virtually impossible for citizens to know what the law required of them.  Not only were citizens – those who were not CPAs or holders of law degrees – hoodwinked, but so were the lawmakers themselves.  Professor Gruber is plainly tickled to ascribe the passage of such a law to “the stupidity of the American voter.”

Liberal journalist Michael Kinsley famously defined a gaffe as when a politician blurts out the truth.  Gruber is no politician.  He is simply the one who leads politicians by the nose.  He was “Mr. Mandate” to the supporters of this misconceived legislation.  Employer mandate.  Individual mandate.  HHS Mandate – that is the federal ukase that forces employers to provide drugs that can kill a child in the womb.  It’s been covered over and sold as a mere matter of “contraceptive coverage.” But that definition, too, is a lie.

You might think that Gruber’s having been taken to the woodshed and given a hiding would end all this.  He has apologized for his crowing over deception.  The president’s press secretary, Josh Earnest, has most earnestly disavowed Gruber’s frankness about his unfrankness.

But it doesn’t end with Dr. Gruber.  His deception is where it all starts.  In The New Republic, flagship publication of the left, editor Noam Scheiber responded to Michael Moore’s complaints about ObamaCare.

And yet I’m still much more sympathetic to Obamacare than Moore. He thinks it’s awful. I consider it a deceptively sneaky way to get the health care system both of us really want.

What Noam Scheiber and Michael Moore want is a system of socialized medicine run by the federal government, not unlike what they have in Britain, Canada, and continental Europe.  What Noam Scheiber does not say is where the rich entrepreneurs and Canadian premiers – like Danny Williams of Newfoundland – will go for health care once America’s system is beset by rationing and a lack of medical innovation, as those socialist systems are.  Williams shocked his voters by making a beeline to the states for heart surgery.  He claimed to be a big supporter of Canada’s single-payer system, but, he said with Gruber-like candor, “this is my heart.”  Exactly.

Clearly, Scheiber likes the fact that ObamaCare deceives.  Sneaky is good.  Recall, the left created a fictional Wall Streeter named Gordon Gecko who said, “Greed is good.”  There really are capitalists who think that way and who behave that way.  (And not a few of them are major donors who cynically give to Republicans and Democrats in the same races.)

But here we have the left celebrating dishonesty, crowing about sneakiness.  President Obama, as the estimable Charles Krauthammer pointed out, assured us no fewer than 31 times that if we like our doctor, we can keep our doctor.  That massive, deliberate, and oft-repeated lie was central to Barack Obama’s election and re-election.  It was the Noble Lie of the Left required to get ObamaCare passed in 2010.

There is a special irony here.  Candidate Obama criticized Hillary Clinton’s health care plan for some of the mandates it included.  Hillary Clinton failed famously in 1994 to get her plan adopted when her husband the president pressed a Democratic Congress to pass it.  That’s because those Democrats actually read the bill and understood it.  They ran like scalded dogs.

ObamaCare was passed by a Democratic Congress in 2010 because those congressmen did not read it.  And even if they had read it, Jonathan Gruber and his ilk had written it in such a “tortured” way (his phrase) that it was nigh impossible to tell what it meant.

Professor Gruber was happy to tell his “academic conference” about how it was necessary to deceive Congress about whether or not ObamaCare’s mandate was a tax.  If the Congressional Budget Office had scored the bill as a tax, “it’s dead,” he said.

So we must cover that up.  More deception.  There’s no indication that the academic audience was in any way offended by Gruber’s confession of dishonesty.  It seems they may actually have liked his deceit, too.

“Letting the cat out of the bag” is a phrase, blogger Matt Blitz tells us, that comes from the old days of the Royal Navy.  That cat was a cat o’ nine tails, a whip of nine leather strands studded with metal beads.  To let the cat out of the bag meant someone was going to be flogged.  Such floggings could open up deep, bloody wounds on the sailor’s back, which, in those pre-penicillin days, could easily turn septic and kill the victim.

Jonathan Gruber will not be flogged.  Josh Earnest disavowed him.  Gruber will probably get off with just a tongue-lashing in the media – if they have to notice him at all.  But the rest of us will be flogged, every day of our lives, by ObamaCare – until it is repealed.