Vail Daily column: Gruber flap reopens not-so-old wounds
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I understand we’ve turned the page to the next controversy — Obama’s unconstitutional immigration pander — but I’d like to dwell a little longer on the previous travesty.
Obama administration health-care consultant Jonathan Gruber was discovered to have boasted that Obamacare was designed to exploit the “stupidity” of American voters and elude honest accounting by hiding both its cost and the taxes necessary to pay for it.
When asked about this in Brisbane, Australia, the president rolled his eyes at the controversy.
“I just heard about this,” Obama said. “… The fact that some adviser who never worked on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with … is no reflection on the actual process that was run.”
“We had a year-long debate,” Obama exasperatedly continued. “Go look back at your stories. One thing we can’t say is that we didn’t have a lengthy debate over health care in the United States. … It’s fair to say there is not a provision in the health-care law that was not extensively debated and was not fully transparent.”
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This statement is a falsehood, punctuated by deceits, supported by half-truths, in defense of a scam.
Let’s give Obama the benefit of the doubt that he had “just heard about this.” After all, he doesn’t hear about a lot of terrible things he’s ultimately responsible for — the IRS scandal, mismanagement at the VA, etc. — until they appear, often tardily, in the newspapers.
The fact that Gruber was not a staffer is a small truth in service of a bigger lie. Gruber was far more indispensable than any staffer. Nearly every news outlet referred to the man as an “architect” of Obamacare. (Many of those outlets are now scrambling to unsay what they said.)
Mere White House staffers were like the bricklayers and plumbers; Gruber was the guy drawing the blueprints. Who gets more credit for a new skyscraper, the guy who installed the toilets or the guy who helped design it?
It’s true that there was a big national argument about the Affordable Care Act. It’s also true that the press covered it extensively. But an argument is not the same thing as a debate, never mind a transparent one. If Obamacare was so transparent, why did Nancy Pelosi, a general contractor for the ACA, insist that the only way to know what’s in it is to pass it?
Real debates require honesty. If I say, “Two plus two equals four,” and you say, “No, it equals a duck,” and then refuse to accept any contrary facts or evidence, that’s not a debate, it’s performance art.
In 2009, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos confronted Obama about the fact that the individual mandate is a tax. Obama scoffed and filibustered. Stephanopoulos responded by citing the dictionary definition of a tax.
“George,” Obama responded, “the fact that you looked up … the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you’re stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition.”
Huh? In what open and transparent debate is the dictionary definition of a word irrelevant? By the way, if the Supreme Court had agreed with Obama, the law would be unconstitutional.
President Obama lied — relentlessly — during that so-called “debate.” Most famously, he repeatedly said, “You can keep your doctor” (and your insurance) if you want. He often ended such lies by saying, “Period. End of story,” as if his emphatic assertion were irrefutable fact. Either he knew he was lying, or the law is so un-transparent that even the man who signed it into law couldn’t understand its most basic functions.
Speaking of transparency, The Washington Examiner’s Timothy Carney notes that Obama frequently attacked the “special interests” opposed to the bill even though the very same interests supported the bill thanks to the generous bribes — er, “subsidies” — included therein. From the Rose Garden in 2009, Obama attacked drug companies for opposing the bill, even though he knew the drug lobby helped craft it. (Carney notes that, “Behind closed doors, the White House apologized to drugmakers for that line, blaming a ‘young speechwriter.’”)
Still, the biggest lie is the one Obama left unsaid in Brisbane. He implied that he won the debate. He didn’t. He won the fight in Congress — by brute partisan force. But the majority of the American people watching this farcical debate were never convinced by Obama’s claims. There was a time when such things mattered. But when it comes to the progressives’ desire to impose their will — on health care and, now, immigration — what the stupid voters want counts for little.
Jonah Goldberg is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior editor of National Review. You can write to him in care of this newspaper, by email at email@example.com or via Twitter @JonahNRO.