Gruber: Politics, Hypocrisy, and Stupidity, Oh My!

Because no one, ever, has ever questioned the intelligence of American voters in extemporaneous discussions of politics.

argument-cartoon-yellingFirst off:  I fully understand the political grist for the mill created by the comments by  Jonathan Gruber this week.  It gold, Jerry, gold! for Fox News, talk radio, and so forth and will help solidify already held beliefs about Obamacare, Democrats, and academics.

The main line I want to address here is the following :

“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes.”  […] “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the ‘stupidity of the American voter’ or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.”

A few thoughts do come to mind:

One, yes, Gruber comes across as arrogant in the clip.  And yes, there is clearly political hay to be made out of the situation.

Two, however, the proposition that this will do much more than simply more deeply convince the already convinced about the evils of the ACA is more than a tad questionable.  It certainly is not going to be the case, as W. James Antle III put it at the National Interest, of How One Man Could Obliterate Obamacare.  (If anything, my ongoing study of political institutions indicates to me that major policies are not obliterated, or even much affected by, political gaffes committed at panel discussions).

Third, (and this was the original thing I was going to write about, but as is often the case, the post grew in the writing):  anyone reading this who has never, ever, questioned the intelligence of voters please raise your hand (and then pause, think, and lower your hand because you are either lying, or can’t comprehend English).  While I perfectly understand why this comment is being exploited, the notion that “only liberals” or “only academics” or “only allies of Obama” think that voters are dumb/stupid/ignorant/misinformed/whatever is so baldly untrue as to be laughable.  This is especially true if we are talking about talking off the cuff.  It isn’t like Gruber was writing a formal policy statement when he said the above—he was on a panel at a conference talking off the top of his head.   I have been blogging for gaining on a decade and half and, if anything, my reading of blog comments sections puts a lie to notion that it is not a common sentiment that “voters are stupid” (now, granted, not voters who agree with me, of course…).

Fourth, in all truth, that line is chock full of Kinsleyian gaffes because a) voters are not well versed in the intricacies of legislating, economics, and health care policy, b)  legislating is a torturous, complex process, and c) too much transparency, especially on details, can derail legislation.  All this is true regardless of whether said truth is normatively preferable.

Indeed, in regards to the “stupidity” bit specifically, Tyler Cowen is quite correct:

If anything he is overrating the American voter — most people weren’t even paying close enough attention to be tricked.

Empirically, it is hard to argue with that stance.

It is also fanciful to assume that legislation is not a byzantine process wherein lack of transparency can work to one’s political advantage.  Further, things like CBO scoring and whatnot are all about either opening up a bill for attack or generating political cover.  This is because the voters are often swayed by sound bites and simplistic rhetoric rather than by complex policy discussions (or am I being mean and arrogant to point that out?).

BTW:  I wish that politics was an intellectual debate about the relative merits of policy and that debate was settled by rational discourse.  But, then again, I want my students to read their assigned readings and show up for class ready to discuss everything, too.  I would also like my kids to clean the kitchen without being asked, and any number of other things.

Life is full of fantasies.

FILED UNDER: US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    Basically, American voters really are a disingenuous and uninformed box of rocks.

    Voters want to be lied to: they want to be told that services can be provided at no additional cost to taxpayers; or that a war will be over in short order and therefore won’t cost the taxpayers much in dollars or in lives; or that we can, despite demographics, ensure the ongoing viability of Medicare only by cutting back, not by increasing the tax. The public WANTS to be lied to. That’s why politicians avoid the word “tax” and opt for “fees” or “service charges” instead.

    The voting (or non-voting) public is very dumbed down these days.

  2. Stonetools says:

    I cringed at hearing these statements, but really, what’s the alternative? That consultants should self censor their statements forever after the passage of a bill they worked on?
    The problem here is that the right wing has a megaphone that enables them to drown out anything that liberals can say in defance. We liberals need to build our own megaphone.

  3. Jeremy R says:

    http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2014/11/13/getting-to-the-bottom-of-grubergate/

    Gruber was not, as many claim, the architect of the health-care law. He is an MIT economist who, as a consultant to the Department of Health and Human Services, modeled the impact of various subsidy levels and rules. He did not make policy, nor did he work for the White House, HHS, or any congressional committee. Earlier, he advised the Massachusetts legislature when it created the health-care reforms that were a model for the ACA.

  4. Moosebreath says:

    As Mencken said, “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.”

  5. Hal_10000 says:

    I think part of the outrage is that many critics of the Obamacare bill made exactly these points: that the bill was deceptively scored for the CBO, that the indexing of the “cadillac tax” would eventually eliminate the health insurance tax deduction for more and more people; that the Administration was, at best, being disingenuous about aspects of the bill. They were blasted as tools of the insurance industry (who, um, supported the bill). Fact-checkers rated these claims as false (once again, showing you can’t fact-check things that haven’t happened yet). To have a smug academic crowing about how he fooled everyone just rubs their nose in it.

  6. Tyrell says:

    This is nothing new or surprising. Just another “public be d_________ned!” attitude of someone paid with taxpayer money. Another example is the so called “Common Core” fraud put together by university people paid with grant money from the tax payer. A program that most teachers, parents, and students say is a huge waste of time and tax money, dreamed up by people who had spent little or no time working in real school classrooms.

  7. Hal_10000 says:

    Addendum: Everyone believes the American people are stupid … until the American people vote for whom they want or support the policy they want. Then the American people are suddenly wise.

    Myself, I’ve never been a fan of democracy. We are a constitutional republic and that’s a good thing. The beauty of our republic is not that the American people get what they want. It’s that they are able to hold the leaders accountable by tossing them out of office. That’s happened a several times in the last eight years. It needs to happen more.

  8. Jack says:

    The most transparent administration E V A H intentionally pulled the wool over the American public’s eyes to pass this legislation. I’m SHOCKED. Shocked I tell ya’.

  9. JKB says:

    Interesting obfuscation emphasizing “voters”. The only people who voted for this thing were the Democrats in Congress. Assuming all of them weren’t in on the scam, i.e., purposeful complexity to avoid an intelligent vote, then the stupidity of voters mentioned would be those Democrats who fell for the line and voted for the legislation. We can throw in those who supported the bill based on the public statements of Obama, et al, which were purposeful lies.

    But let’s not forget, a good portion of the American electorate did not support the bill even with the purposeful abstruse writing and lies spread in public statements.

  10. MikeSJ says:

    Every discussion on Obamacare and the efforts to get rid of it amaze me because of the utter indifference shown to the people who now have health insurance because of it.

    I’d call it contempt but to say that would mean that the opponents of Obamacare would have had to acknowledge that these people exist.

    It’s as if the people who are being helped are invisible and and totally irrelevant.

    I suspect most of the pundits, politicians and corporate media come from enough privilege and wealth that they have never been impacted by a lack of health care and nobody they know would be impacted.

    Of course it also could be because an awful lot of them are sociopaths and sadists and the suffering of millions of their fellow citizens means nothing to them.

  11. Jack says:

    @MikeSJ: So, essentially what you are saying is it doesn’t matter that this administration hoodwinked the American public as long as the results are something you favor.

  12. JKB says:

    @MikeSJ:

    Even when they tell you to your face that the whole thing is a pack of lies, you still fall for it.

    Well, here is an open letter from a family that got the shaft

    At any rate, here is what your masterful plan has done. My husband and I bought our own health insurance for many years and we paid for it ourselves. In the fall of 2013 we received notice from our health insurance carrier that our plan was cancelled. The replacement plans were double the cost with higher deductibles for us and our two young kids. The price was more than we could afford. We looked on the state website, despite our reluctance to place our personal medical and financial information on a website that wasn’t worthy of a small town beauty shop. But, we determined that we weren’t eligible for any subsidies (or let’s just call them what they are) welfare entitlements. We had hope that our insurance carrier would come through and offer the plan again to us after the President changed his mind and said that those who had lost coverage could take a non-qualifying plan. Of course, anyone who runs a business knows that a large insurance company cannot just reverse itself on a dime like that. It sounded good on TV, but I don’t know anybody who was offered their old plan again. So, to cut to the chase, our family of four is now uninsured. A family that for years has been following the rules, paying our own way, and making sure we weren’t a burden to others now does not have affordable coverage.

  13. al-Ameda says:

    We’ll see if the Supreme Court wants to create 10 million new uninsured people.

  14. wr says:

    @Hal_10000: ” To have a smug academic crowing about how he fooled everyone just rubs their nose in it.”

    Ah, yes, the right wing loathing of academics. “How dare them fancy people think they’re smarter than me just because they are.”

    I swear, the difference between the Tea Party and the Khmer Rouge is one of degree, not substance.

  15. wr says:

    @Tyrell: “Another example is the so called “Common Core” fraud put together by university people paid with grant money from the tax payer”

    And just on cue… ladies and gentlemen, exhibit A.

  16. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Because no one, ever, has ever questioned the intelligence of American voters in extemporaneous discussions of politics.

    This was not “extemporaneous.” Gruber said this, repeatedly, all over the country. It was part of his standard talking points.

    And Gruber was a frequent White House visitor. Nancy Pelosi cited him as one of the prime architects of the bill. He’s been cited here repeatedly in the discussion of ObamaCare.

    But to elaborate on Hal’s points: it now turns out that a lot of the criticisms of ObamaCare were completely accurate. And those who denied it, who called the critics liars and hacks and paid-for shills and hate-mongers and racists and everything else, knew those criticisms were accurate and were working to keep that secret.

    And now the people who lied and lied and lied their asses off for years about the real nature of ObamaCare now want us to believe that Gruber was a glorified number-cruncher, not actually involved in writing the bill, just plugging the numbers he was given into the magic formulae.

    Bullshit.

  17. wr says:

    @Jack: Hey Jenos — What’s wrong? Tired of being Will?

  18. wr says:

    @JKB: Well, as long as you can quote an anonymous person on the internet telling an anecdote with no evidence to back it up, I guess I’ll have to stop supporting the program!

  19. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Here’s the New York Times again, in 2011:

    He was one of the people who helped shape the ideas that ultimately led to last year’s health law, but it’s a bit much to say he devised its economic underpinnings.

    A better descriptions comes later in the article, when he is called “a key architect of Romneycare.” Mr. Gruber was intimately involved in the crafting of the universal health care plan in Massachusetts, as an outside adviser to Gov. Mitt Romney. The plan Mr. Obama signed was modeled on the Massachusetts plan.

    And Gruber explains that Massachusetts’ system was based on the state getting heaps of money from the federal government, and Senator Ted Kennedy was instrumental in making sure the rest of the nation covered Massachusetts’ tab.

    The problem, of course, is that solution doesn’t scale up. There’s no higher body that the entire US can appeal to for more money.

    Just own it. ObamaCare is built on lies and deception, because you obviously know what’s best for everyone, and they’re just too stupid to know what’s best for them. It is your moral responsibility to lie to people so you can just make them do what’s in their own best interest, regardless of what they want. Because they’re just too stupid and irresponsible and stubborn to be allowed the freedom to make their own choices.

    Just don’t gloat so much when you succeed. Don’t be a Gruber.

  20. wr says:

    Today’s bet: How many different screen names will Jenos post under this weekend to cover up for the thrashing he took as “Will”? How long until he slinks off and leaves us all alone again until he thinks enough time has passed that people have forgotten?

  21. JKB says:

    @wr:

    But which program do you support? The actual one that raises rates, reduces coverage, etc? Or the lie perpetrated upon the “public”, well, actually the DemProgs who supported the purposely obfuscated bill?

    Are you part of the scammers? Or part of the “stupidity of voters”?

  22. Jack says:

    @wr: Shorter wr: I’m an Obamabot and no amount of credible evidence will change my mind.

  23. Pharoah Narim says:

    @JKB: And which one do you support? The status quo where insurance companies took people’s hard earned money and game them little in return? Or the one where if you actually need the insurance you’ve been paying for, you get kicked off the coverage. Or my favorite…the one where insurance payers have to absorb the no pays that went to get emergency room services….somebody’s got to pay right? And you have the nerve to talk about somebody getting scammed. The entire private health insurance system is a scam. It’s designed to pay out less than it collects…it’s not there to serve people’s health needs. So enlighten us for a change, what do YOU support?

  24. Hal_10000 says:

    @wr:

    You’re talking to an academic. It’s not the academics that are the problem; it’s the condescension of this particular academic.

  25. Moderate Mom says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Or, as Gruber himself said, “It’s the same f**king bill”.

    The first video raised my eyebrows a bit. The second raised them a bit more. Then the third dropped and I was starting to get a little bit pissed at this man. By the time the forth (and fifth and sixth) videos dropped, all I thought when I heard him was that he is such an arrogant ass. And an ass that’s managed to pull in over 5 million dollars off the federal and eight state’s public dime since 2000. Great work if you can get it.

  26. Jeremy R says:

    @JKB:

    But which program do you support? The actual one that raises rates, reduces coverage, etc?

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/179396/newly-insured-exchanges-give-coverage-good-marks.aspx

    In addition to newly insured Americans rating their coverage and the quality of their healthcare positively, they are more satisfied than the average insured American with the cost of their health coverage. Three in four of the newly insured say they are satisfied with this aspect of their healthcare experience, compared with 61% among the general population of those with insurance.

    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/10/29/upshot/obamacare-who-was-helped-most.html?rref=upshot&smid=tw-upshotnyt&abt=0002&abg=1&_r=1

    A large set of data — from Enroll America, the group trying to sign up people for the program, and from the data firm Civis Analytics — is allowing a much clearer picture. The data shows that the law has done something rather unusual in the American economy this century: It has pushed back against inequality, essentially redistributing income — in the form of health insurance or insurance subsidies — to many of the groups that have fared poorly over the last few decades.

    The biggest winners from the law include people between the ages of 18 and 34; blacks; Hispanics; and people who live in rural areas. The areas with the largest increases in the health insurance rate, for example, include rural Arkansas and Nevada; southern Texas; large swaths of New Mexico, Kentucky and West Virginia; and much of inland California and Oregon.

    Each of these trends is going in the opposite direction of larger economic patterns.

    Over all, about 10 million Americans who had no insurance in 2013 signed up for it this year, according to the Enroll America/Civis model. The groups estimate that the national uninsured rate for adults under 65 fell to 11 percent from 16 percent.

    That state boundaries are so prominent in the map attests to the power of state policy in shaping health insurance conditions. The most important factor in predicting whether an American who had no insurance in 2013 signed up this year was whether the state that person lives in expanded its Medicaid program in 2014. (Just consider the contrast between Kentucky, which expanded Medicaid, and Tennessee, which did not.)

  27. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Here’s the New York Times again, in 2011:

    Ah, so now NYT is a credible source of solid news in your book?

  28. MikeSJ says:

    I remember buying a health insurance policy when I was 19 from my college – trying to be responsible and all that.

    When I got around to it I read the fine print and found out the policy excluded coverage for injuries incurred in a car accident.

    So now, thanks to Obamacare, people can’t get screwed by policies like that.

    Yep. A real tragedy.

  29. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos, JKB

    Can you guys give us the numbers on the massive 2015 rate shock the right has been warning us about for months?

  30. JKB says:

    @anjin-san:

    The NYT is reporting 20% rate hikes.

    And as the New York Times reports, most people who purchased insurance through healthcare.gov or the state exchanges are looking at increases of up to 20%.

  31. wr says:

    @Jack: Well, if you ever have credible evidence of anything, let me know and we’ll see, now won’t we, “cupcake”?

  32. wr says:

    @Hal_10000: So why would you be certain to refer to him as a “smug academic,” which implies that his academic status is part of the problem, instead of “smug jerk” or something else?

  33. wr says:

    @Moderate Mom: “And an ass that’s managed to pull in over 5 million dollars off the federal and eight state’s public dime since 2000. Great work if you can get it.”

    Because he’s getting paid to be a cool guy you want as your friend? Funny, I thought he was being paid for his expertise in certain types of economic modelling. But maybe we should start setting salaries by how much you like a person.

  34. Stan says:

    @JKB: “And as the New York Times reports, most people who purchased insurance through healthcare.gov or the state exchanges are looking at increases of up to 20%.”

    You forgot to mention that the same article said that most of the rate hikes could be avoided by shifting to a different plan with similar coverage. If you’re going to cite newspaper articles, try being honest about it.

  35. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Moderate Mom: So you don’t like him. But for years and years, he was enough of a darling to the left that they shoveled all that money at him.

    Why don’t you have anything to say about what he said? Why do you focus on how he said it?

    He showed Democrats how to lie and cheat to pass ObamaCare. He’s now getting all the heat because he admitted it. No, that’s not fair; “admitted” implies shame. He’s proud of it.

  36. anjin-san says:

    @JKB:

    The NYT is reporting 20% rate hikes.

    Wow. You guys are loving you some lame stream media tonight!

    So I take it you did not read the article, and you simply accepted the spin the GOP put on it? No interest in talking about the 19% drop in Mississippi? Just going to cherry pick an outlier on the high end?

    If you want to look under the hood:

    Analysis: O-Care Premiums Steady In 2015

    Taken in the aggregate, Obamacare premiums for the 34 states using Healthcre.gov are almost completely level in 2015 compared to 2014, according to a new analysis from Avalere Health.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/obamacare-premiums-2015-avalere-analysis

    So yes, in some places, rates have gone up. In others they have gone down. People may have to …gasp… shop for the best deal. Bottom line is, the aggregate prices are holding steady.

  37. Guarneri says:

    After the financial crisis the very defenders of Gruber here and elsewhere were aghast and looking for the scalps of evil bankers who, they said, had duped poor unsuspecting home buyers.

    Now, with unassailable evidence that Obamacare was sold to unsuspecting, even stupid, people via a blatant shell game the reaction is, “oh get over it.”

    My, my, my.

  38. anjin-san says:

    @Guarneri:

    Predatory lending hurt millions of people. Can you tell me how many people have been harmed by Obamacare?

  39. Pharoah Narim says:

    @anjin-san: Not to mention evaporated billions out of the 401Ks of hardworking people. If this was ReaganCare they’d talk it up every chance they could.

  40. David M says:

    A lot of claims about how Obamacare was passed using deception, and yet never any actual details about what was deceptive. And also no acknowledgement that Obamacare has worked like it’s supporters said it would, and the lies from it’s opponents have been exposed.

    And now the GOP is becoming even more of a joke pushing this completely fake outrage. It’s like they are trying to look more ridiculous.

  41. Just "nutha... says:

    @JKB: When significant portions of public protest of the bill consisted of posters pleading “Don’t turn my Medicare benefit into a socalized medicine scheme,” is it any wonder that you get down voted so much?

    Do you ever actually read what you write, or do you just paste it from Red State or Townhall.com?

  42. Just "nutha... says:

    @MikeSJ: No, I think you’re wrong–it’s contempt. It’s all part of the Objectivist/Libertarian “gee, it must suck to be you–it’s too bad you decided to be a parasite” mindset.

  43. Grewgills says:

    @JKB:

    And as the New York Times reports, most people who purchased insurance through healthcare.gov or the state exchanges are looking at increases of up to 20%.

    I can see why you linked to Pajamas rather than the original article. From the original:

    The Obama administration on Friday unveiled data showing that many Americans with health insurance bought under the Affordable Care Act could face substantial price increases next year — in some cases as much as 20 percent — unless they switch plans.

    An analysis of the data by The New York Times suggests that although consumers will often be able to find new health plans with prices comparable to those they now pay, the situation varies greatly from state to state and even among counties in the same state.

    In a typical county, the price will rise 5 percent for the cheapest silver plan and 4 percent for the second cheapest.

    That is a far different statement. Did you read the original and decide to post the deceptive characterization or did you not bother to read the original?

    In California, where they set up a state exchange and accepted the Medicare expansion, rates are projected to increase 4.2%. Between 2000 and 2008 health insurance premiums increased by 97% according to Kaiser. The fear mongering about the ACA causing double digit premium increases is baseless.

  44. Grewgills says:

    @JKB:
    This site has an interesting map of health insurance increases across the country. Louisiana and Kansas are projected to have greater than 15% average premium increases, six more states are expected to average double digit increases. That leaves 38 states* averaging less than double digit increases (all too common before the ACA). At least 15 states** have less than 5% increases or decreases in average premium rates.

    * Alaska, Hawaii, North Dakota, and Texas didn’t have enough info yet.
    ** the color coding was difficult to read on my computer

  45. Tyrell says:

    Mr. Gruber simply revealed the truth about the way things work with the thinking of politicians and the government. They regard the people as a bunch of dumb sheep and mice. This attitude can be seen in many a government program, laws, and decisions by the courts. But a lot of the people out in this country are not as blind or stupid as the leaders think. Many people have seen right through the lies, deceptions, cover ups, misrepresentations, and maneuvering: the wars, phony gas crises, immigration reform, and the latest government program that is the cure for every problem and ill.
    I would think that the Chinese leaders were laughing at the gullibility and naivete of this country’s leaders just moments after the recent phony “climate change” (or whatever they call it now) agreement was signed. The Chinese have proven time and again that they can’t be trusted on anything. This agreement will end up hurting the American middle class workers. We remember the one sided trade agreements. Just look at what they did to the US textile industry. People around here will never forget it.
    For an accurate and interesting representation of how this works, try to locate the old “Twilight
    Zone” series, and watch the “Maple Street” episode. It is a very good rendering of how the governmt, banking industry, and many large corporations work.

  46. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: Here’s Gruber explaining that ObamaCare will eventually kill the tax exemption for ALL employer-sponsored health plans, and describing in detail the mechanism that will do so.

    Short version: the “Cadillac tax” is indexed, and tied to the CPI, not the rate of medical inflation. CPI, runs considerably lower than medical inflation. Which means that the threshold for a plan qualifying as a “Cadillac plan” will head downward in real dollars until pretty much any plan that meets ObamaCare standards will qualify as a “Cadillac plan.”

    That’s Gruber’s statement. That’s Gruber explaining exactly what the mechanism is to enforce his statement, and Gruber citing the exact aspect of the law he is proud of engineering that will eventually kill every single employer-sponsored plan.

    Wow, it looks like the critics of ObamaCare who’ve been saying all along that it was intended to kill employer-sponsored insurance were right all along. Will they get any apologies now from those who called them liars and frauds and paid shills and dopes and whatnot?

    I’m kidding, of course.

  47. JKB says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    And remember, the Cadillac tax was a direct attack upon unions, whose members used to be treasured Democrat voters. Guess they’ve lost their utility so the party generated some lies to start taking from them. Gruber reveals that the taking was on purpose, but that the party feared speaking honestly with the unions.

    =================
    No use arguing about the “features” of Obamacare here in the comments. Sure someone can shop around for a lower insurance premium but that means shifting the expense to the higher deductible, higher co-pays, more limited network, etc. To many variables to have a reasonable discussion with those still pushing the Obamacare lies that the Gruber videos have exposed.

    What we have is last year, this year and next year of real live Obamacare experience, apparently still with malfunctioning websites. Those who see their “insurance” being jacked up which has real effect to make their health care more out of pocket expensive compared to their pre-Obamacare insurance, will remember. And are likely to vote the issue. Those that got the “insurance” they were not buying on purpose before under threat of government violence probably won’t base their vote on the issue.

    Remember, all Obamacare does is force people to buy expensive insurance, that includes a lot of coverage they neither need or want, under threat of government violence.

    To make the premiums somewhat “affordable” the insurers have introduced pretty substantial deductibles, the amount of actual health care the insured must pay for each year before they can make a claim on the pool and high co-pays, the amount of each health care expense that the insured must cover out of pocket even as the pool pays for the rest. Not to mention, imposing severe restrictions upon what doctors an insured may see, and hospitals they may use for non-emergency treatments.

    And the Gruber videos reveal all this was anticipated by the Democrats in government and they purposely lied to avoid resistance by those who’d rather keep their doctor/plan because they liked their doctor/plan.

    I’d have to look it up, but I remember reading recently that of the 60 Democrats in the Senate when Obamacare was passed, some 30 or so now have new jobs outside the Senate. And as we know, the House went majority Republican after the vote as well.

  48. bob says:

    @al-Ameda: Il. just elected a governor on the promise to cut income taxes and freeze property taxes.The republican comptroller said a tax cut would be a nail in the states coffin, and almost everyother office holder questioned how he could freeze property taxes and doubt it could be done. None of the naysaying mattered. The promise sure sounds good.

  49. bob says:

    Not much media attention on his inferring republicans are hypocritical on Obamacare.—
    “Gruber also had some unkind words for his former pupil, Mitt Romney. There’s “zero difference” between Romneycare and Obamacare, he told Pillifant. “This is, to my mind, the most blatantly obvious case of politics trumping policy I’ve ever seen in my life. Because this is an idea, that four or five years ago, Republicans were touting. A guy from the Heritage Foundation spoke at the bill signing in Massachusetts about how good this bill was.”

    But, what about when Romney says his law is different from Obamacare? “The problem is there is no way to say that, because they’re the same f***ing bill. He just can’t have his cake and eat it too. Basically, you know, it’s the same bill. He can try to draw distinctions and stuff, but he’s just lying. The only big difference is he didn’t have to pay for his. Because the federal government paid for it. Where at the federal level, we have to pay for it, so we have to raise taxes.”

    “I was a consultant to his administration,” Gruber said of Romney in a 2011 interview with MSNBC’s Al Sharpton. “I helped him in the early stages of shaping the bill. I then helped the legislature write the bill, and I was appointed by Governor Romney to the Connector board, the board that actually implemented the law in Massachusetts, starting in 2006.”

  50. bob says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Don’t blame me, I voted for McCain, whose plan was to wean everyone of employer healthcare by taxing all benefits as income, and giving tax breaks to those who bought their own plans, and repealing tax advantages to business for offering healthcare.

  51. C. Clavin says:

    Lot of wing nut commenters here proving Grubers point.

  52. sam says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Here’s Gruber explaining that ObamaCare will eventually kill the tax exemption for ALL employer-sponsored health plans, and describing in detail the mechanism that will do so.

    Well, that’s also very big in some Republican circles. At least it got space at NRO. See, Kill the Tax Exclusion for Health Insurance .
    Granted he wants to replace the exclusion with a single discount, but still…

    And the Coburn-Burr-Hatch plan to replace Obamacare

    would make substantial changes to the tax exclusion for employer-sponsored coverage, in order to fund subsidies for the uninsured. “Our proposal caps the tax exclusion for employee’s health coverage at 65 percent of an average plan’s cost” today, and then grows the cap at the rate of the Consumer Price Index—a common measure of inflation—plus one percent (CPI+1%). . [Source]

    It’s not as if it’s some exclusively Democratic suggestion.

    And by the way, how does Obamacare’s federal subsidy provision differ in principle from these plans:

    A separate cohort of Republican health plans has taken a different approach. They aim to offer universal coverage—though they rarely use that term—by ensuring that every American who needs one can get a federal subsidy to purchase health insurance [my emphasis]. These plans include the Patients’ Choice Act of 2009, introduced by Reps. Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) and Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) along with Senators Coburn and Burr; and the Empowering Patients First Act of 2013, developed by Rep. Tom Price (R., Ga.) [same cite]

  53. bandit says:

    @C. Clavin: That Gruber’s a lying POS???

  54. ElizaJane says:

    Gruber is an Ivy League economist (for the purposes of economics departments, MIT counts here; I think it’s #1 in the country, or #2). As such, he is an arrogant b*st*rd who thinks that he is hugely smarter than everybody else. He is correct about this within the small area in which he operates, but he projects it as a general attitude. Still, annoying as this makes him as a human being, the fact is that he has developed very complex and effective models that people (businesses, governments) will pay him a huge amount of money for. When he gets together with his friends of similar achievement, they sit around congratulating themselves at how clever they are in comparison to mere humanity. Sometimes they are stupid enough to allow their comments to be recorded for posterity.
    This does not make Gruber the devil or even a liar. It makes him an Ivy League economist. I’ve spent a lot of time around them. My best friend married one.

  55. stonetools says:

    @bob:

    But, what about when Romney says his law is different from Obamacare? “The problem is there is no way to say that, because they’re the same f***ing bill

    Indeed. So here is the question. What turned what was essentially the Republican approach to universal health insurance-an approach that goes back to Dole and even Nixon-into a Big Gumint socialistic takeover of health care, to be resisted at all costs, the day after Obama’s election?
    Who’s being hypocritical here?

  56. C. Clavin says:

    Republicans continue to refuse to understand how risk pools work. Their Senate Majority Leader thinks you can just keep the favorite parts of Obamacare.
    Republicans think end-of-life counseling is a Death Panel.
    Republicans think sending millions of customers to private sector companies is Socialism.
    Gruber was wrong.
    Americans aren’t stupid.
    Republicans are. And you cannot fix stupid.

  57. bill says:

    I didn’t think it would take a week for this to make it in here, or that steven would be the author.
    Lots of damage control going on behind closed doors, maybe it turns into a msm story ?

  58. grumpy realist says:

    Given that Obamacare has made it possible for one of my best friends to have health insurance coverage at all, I guess I’m biased.

    But all those of you squealing about how Horrible It All Is have given absolutely no thought to what is to replace it. What happens for those with existing conditions? What happens to those who have hit the $3M lifetime limit? Are they supposed to go out with a tin cup and beg in the streets for the money for their cancer treatments?

    And yes, the American populace likes to be lied to. Taxes are always to be paid by The Other People, and fraudandwaste is always the other guy’s program, not theirs.

  59. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Random complaints about the Cadillac Tax aren’t really productive, especially given the near unanimous agreement among economists that the preferential tax treatment of employer provided health insurance is not good policy.

    You completely skipped over what it means that the rate of inflation for medical costs is higher than the CPI, and why it’s a serious problem if it continues. Also not mentioned was the fact that this has improved over the last few years and Obamacare has helped.

  60. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: Random complaints about the Cadillac Tax aren’t really productive, especially given the near unanimous agreement among economists that the preferential tax treatment of employer provided health insurance is not good policy.

    You completely skipped over what it means that the rate of inflation for medical costs is higher than the CPI, and why it’s a serious problem if it continues. Also not mentioned was the fact that this has improved over the last few years and Obamacare has helped.

    OK, I’ll spell it out, now that Gruber has spelled out his scheme.

    1) Set up the “Cadillac tax” to take away the tax benefits of high-value insurance plans.

    2) Set the threshold for what constitutes a “Cadillac plan” to an index that rises much slower than the medical costs rate, so the threshold starts heading south every year.

    3) Eventually, the threshold for the “Cadillac plan” hits the floor of “minimal acceptable plan,” so every single employer-offered plan qualifies as a “Cadillac plan” and loses the tax benefits.

    I think I finally grasp what really happened, and I didn’t before because I wasn’t cynical. The ObamaCare critics cited all these elements, and pointed them out as major mistakes and flaws in the plan. The defenders said that they were lying, that they were paid shills of Big Insurance, and they hated poor people.

    And, technically, the defenders were partly telling the truth. These elements weren’t “mistakes” or “flaws.” They were the plan all along.

    Oh, and let me repeat why Massachusetts’ plan wouldn’t scale: it depended on huge payouts from the federal government to balance its books. And the federal government doesn’t have any higher authority that it can go begging to for more money.

  61. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    You again wrote nothing new or of value. The Cadillac Tax isn’t a new development and nothing Gruber has said recently is of value when discussing it, other than as a GOP distraction from the actual policy. The Cadillac Tax isn’t a flaw or a mistake, it’s a mainstream policy response to a well known problem.

    You’re description of what you think will happen unfortunately was not a useful contribution to the discussion. Please read my earlier post again, as it points out the actual policy issues that are required for any substantive discussion of the Cadillac Tax.

  62. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    BTW, we’re already hearing the stories about all these newly-insured people. I’ve personally talked to a few. Here’s one account. Here’s another.

    They sign up for the best plan they can afford, which has a high deductible. They can’t afford the deductible, so they never use their plan. But they have insurance, so they don’t get pounded by the IRS. And they count as “insured,” even though they can’t afford to actually use it, just pay for it, so that makes things look just wonderful.

    Yay, ObamaCare!

  63. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: No, the Cadillac Tax isn’t a new development. What is a new development is the widespread understanding that the threshold will drop in real value over time. And what’s a really new development is that that was deliberately crafted that way.

    One of the guys who crafted the lie was caught, repeatedly, bragging about how clever his lie was and how stupid the people who believed the lie are.

  64. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    How the Cadillac Tax will work is only a new development to people unfamiliar with health care policy, which sadly does not appear to include you. It’s kind of bizarre that you could have so much to say about something you clearly know nothing about.

  65. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: You goaded me to do a little homework, and found a truly fascinating article and discussion here. And yes, people were talking about the Cadillac tax at the time. And yes, they were being derided and mocked for doing so.

    A wonderful quote:

    From expert health care economist J. Gruber:

    “So in the end, we have a policy that provides the necessary financing to pay for subsidies to low-income families; induces employers to buy more cost-effective health insurance, lowering U.S. health-care spending; offsets a bias in our tax system that favors more expensive insurance; and raises wages by $223 billion over 10 years. To put a twist on an old saying: The Senate assessment on high-cost insurance plans doesn’t walk like a tax or talk like a tax — because it is not a tax. It is an innovative way of financing the health reform we so desperately need.”

    Gruber was bragging about how he lied to the American people. Well, there’s that lie.

  66. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    What part of it’s working as designed is so confusing?

  67. Well, I am not have been right about much, but I nailed it that the comments would “help solidify already held beliefs about Obamacare.”

  68. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Not to rain on your parade, but I think that’s a really safe prediction for most any article posted here…

  69. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: Nothing confusing. It was sold as “not a tax” and “will only affect the wealthiest,” and that was a lie.

    Now the defenders have shifted from “it’s not a lie” to “of course it was a lie, what’s the big deal?”

  70. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    That’s either nonsense or unrelated to the discussion about the Cadillac Tax.

  71. Pharoah Narim says:

    So here we have Tea Party trolls who exude the very essence of freedom and market competition from their sweat glands lamenting the possibility that ObamaCare may turn out to be a poison pill for employer subsidized health care plans. The same plans that trap people in jobs they hate to keep the insurance and the same plans that people get stuck with because that’s the insurer their company went with that year….. The irony is delicious.

  72. anjin-san says:

    @Pharoah Narim:

    Yea, under the current system, your employer can take away your income and your health insurance any time he/she pleases. That’s a lot of power for one person to have over you. I would think the freebirds on the right would want to make some changes.

  73. sam says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Re your complaints about the Cadillac tax, see my Sunday, November 16, 2014 at 10:02, which you seem to have overlooked.

  74. Rick DeMent says:

    @JKB:

    Remember, all Obamacare does is force people to buy expensive insurance, that includes a lot of coverage they neither need or want, under threat of government violence

    In this case the government “violence” is a tax penalty that is mathematically indistinguishable from the home mortgage deduction. Crap this this is #3 in the list of reasons about why US political debate is broken.

  75. C. Clavin says:

    The Republicans just cannot ever admit they were wrong….which is problematic because they are wrong all the f’ing time.

    The Obamacare train never went off the rails as Republicans predicted…and is in fact working as planned and is successful.
    On the other side of the coin…Iraq never ever worked as Republicans said it would…and in fact was arguably the greatest foreign policy blunder in our history.
    Kansas has instituted the full monty of Republican policies…and it has wreaked havoc on the budget there…as opposite as possible from giving the economy a boost of adrenaline as promised by Gov. Brownback.

    And just last week…the Government announced that the program which funded Solyndra will turn a $5 Billion dollar profit overall.

    My local weatherman’s predictions are more accurate than Republicans ever are.
    The problem with America is that 1/2 the population insists on listening to their nonsense anyway.

  76. al-Ameda says:

    @bob:

    @al-Ameda: Il. just elected a governor on the promise to cut income taxes and freeze property taxes.The republican comptroller said a tax cut would be a nail in the states coffin, and almost everyother office holder questioned how he could freeze property taxes and doubt it could be done. None of the naysaying mattered. The promise sure sounds good.

    You can do it – freeze property taxes and cut income taxes – if you cut back government.

    If you keep services levels the same you will, unless other sources of revenue grow, create a deficit. People like to be told that they can have their non-reduced government while they destabilize base revenues, they simply do not believe any predictions of negative consequences.

  77. stonetools says:

    To be honest, what will assure the survival of the ACA is not stuff Grubber said-it’s whether it works as advertised. So far its been working as advertised.
    The second year enrollment seems to be going smooothly ( I see zero “horror stories” on Memeorandum) and over 100,000 new enrollees have signed up.
    What I see happening is a pure messaging fail. The right wing BS machine is going crazy with “Gruber lied” stories, with very little pushback from the Administration , and in general “Obamacare evil” stories overwhelmingly outnumber “Obamacare good” stories out there. Not surprisingly, public approval of the ACA is if anything, slipping.
    Liberals don’t like the idea that messaging can beat good policy. Rather, liberals say good policy makes good politics, and they trust to people to somehow figure out the good from the BS. So far, the ACA proves that liberals-and the Obama Administration-are wrong.

    To use a metaphor, good politics is a three legged stool. You must have the good policy, and Administration was good at that-at least in the realm of health care. You must have good implementation-and after a terrible start, the Administration got good at that.
    Where the stool is toppling over is that the Administration has sucked at messaging about the ACA from day one, hour one, minute one. And they still do.Burwell finally acknowledged that on Meet the Press yesterday. Maybe the Obama Admistration can finally work on that.

  78. JKB says:

    @Rick DeMent: In this case the government “violence” is a tax penalty that is mathematically indistinguishable from the home mortgage deduction.

    And what pray tell happens when you choose not to pay the tax penalty?

    When we’re saying “the government should intervene,” we’re saying “an organization with guns should threaten to lock people in cages if they don’t comply with its dictates.” — Art Cardem

  79. C. Clavin says:

    The proof is in the pudding…
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/179396/newly-insured-exchanges-give-coverage-good-marks.aspx
    …people who use Obamacare are about as happy with their insurance as all people who have coverage.

  80. David M says:

    @JKB:

    If you don’t know the answer to your question is “nothing”, you really aren’t even informed enough to join the discussion. Why do the trolls here have so little self respect? Shouldn’t there be a limit to how many times they are willing to look like fools?

  81. JKB says:

    @C. Clavin:

    My patient with a thyroid problem couldn’t afford the necessary ultrasound and antibody tests to better understand her condition before Obamacare, and she can’t afford them now, either, because of her large deductible. This gap between coverage and actual care is not a surprise to people who have struggled with the limitations of insurance of all kinds their entire lives. Most Americans do not believe in a free lunch these days – and certainly not when the government is pitching it.

    Americans have always understood the Obamacare gap between insurance and actual care. What has sharpened our focus is time, not an injection of knowledge or supposed transparency from on high.

    Marc Siegel, M.D., is a professor of medicine and medical director of Doctor Radio at NYU Langone Medical Center.

    Although, to be fair, Dr Siegel does not mention that after Obamacare with its jacked up rates, the patients have even less of a chance to save up to purchase the test/treatment either outright or via their ever higher deductibles.

  82. MikeSJ says:

    @C. Clavin:
    And just last week…the Government announced that the program which funded Solyndra will turn a $5 Billion dollar profit overall.

    And who actually heard this news? There were at least 100 Solyndra hit job stories put out by Republican mouth pieces for every time this positive news got reported.

    OK, that’s not quite true. It was probably closer to 500 hit jobs put out for every positive story like this.

    This administration is beyond terrible at messaging. Just painfully bad at it.

  83. stonetools says:

    @JKB:

    Not really sure this heps you, bud:

    My patient with a thyroid problem couldn’t afford the necessary ultrasound and antibody tests to better understand her condition before Obamacare, and she can’t afford them now, either, because of her large deductible

    Seems that her problem has zero to do with what Gruber said, and everything to do with ther not being able to afford health care. The doctor’s solution:

    You don’t need a government-hired navigator to tell you that the real path to increased care is to be found in new doctors, nurses, hospitals, and clinics, not in new insurance.

    doesn’t touch the problem, which is that she has no money to pay for services, even if the doctors were there to provide them.

    What’s the Republican solution to that?
    Here, go.
    1.
    2.
    3.

    There is an ACA solution:expanded Medicaid-which the good doctor didn’t mention. But of course, Republicans are blocking that, everywhere they can.

  84. C. Clavin says:

    @MikeSJ:
    Doug and OTB were also big on Solyndra attacks…but crickets out of them, too.
    As I typed on another thread today…Democrats need to stand up and brag about their accomplishments.

  85. stonetools says:

    @C. Clavin: @MikeSJ:

    Of course, the real questionis:

    Why isn’t the Obam,a Administration trumpeting this right, left, and center?

    Messaging fail no. 45,782

    You can rest assured that if this happened in a Republican Adminstration, Fox News, right wing radio, and Pajamas Media would have in on 24/7 loop. Our problem: we don’t have that kind of messaging machine, nor apparently, do we even seem to understand we need one.

  86. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @sam: Re your complaints about the Cadillac tax, see my Sunday, November 16, 2014 at 10:02, which you seem to have overlooked.

    I re-read your comments, and don’t see the relevance. You’re arguing the policy. That argument was over years ago. ObamaCare is the Law Of The Land.

    This argument is about how it was passed. About the lies the backers told.

    And I really appreciate the message. “Yes, we lied to you. We had to lie to you, because we have your best interests at heart and we know you won’t do what’s best for yourself unless we either make you or trick you into doing it. So just tell yourself that when we’re lying to you, we’re doing it for your own good. Just trust us.”

    Nope, not Orwellian at all.

  87. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    You chose not to get your news from credible sources and subsequently are not adequately informed about the issues. That only reflects badly on you and the conservative entertainment complex. I’m not sure why you expect others who clearly are much more informed about the issues to do anything but mock your nonsense.

  88. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: Just own it, David. Your side crafted ObamaCare as a lie. No, a series of lies. Because you just HAD to, for The Greater Good.

    You really don’t get the appreciation and respect and gratitude you deserve. It must have been hell, sacrificing your integrity and principles and honesty for all our sakes. To give up so much just to protect all us proles from ourselves, from making bad choices. Why, if you weren’t there to make all our hard choices for us, who knows what trouble we’d get ourselves into?

    And you did it all without even being asked. You just naturally recognized your own intellectual and moral superiority and took it upon yourselves, the ultimate act of noblesse oblige.

    We are so not worthy of having you run our lives.

  89. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Kind of an odd response when I’m pointing out that it is working properly and as originally advertised. I’m not sure why you continue to demonstrate how little understanding you have of health care policy.

  90. Sock Puppet #9 says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    To give up so much just to protect all us proles from ourselves,

    Actually, we just want to protect society at large from deadbeats. I don’t want to pick up the tab for you if you don’t feel like you need health insurance, because it’s sure as shit you will need it sooner or later.

  91. anjin-san says:

    @JKB:

    Marc Siegel, M.D., is a professor of medicine and medical director of Doctor Radio at NYU Langone Medical Center.

    In addition to being a Fox News correspondent. Don’t you ever get tired of being told what you think?

  92. @Jenos Idanian #13:

    You’re arguing the policy. That argument was over years ago. ObamaCare is the Law Of The Land.

    This argument is about how it was passed. About the lies the backers told.

    Yes, why argue policy?

    But seriously the bottom line is this: there is no political debate in which both sides cannot credibly accuse the other of lying (“death panels” anyone? ). This is true for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being that the need to simplify complexity leads to lies by omission (and the fact that complex processes, such as legislating, lead to an inability to speak in simple statements).

    As such, the ultimate issue is policy.

    (And seriously: anyone paying attention knows that the bill, in general, is functioning exactly as advertised. It is definitively not the case that we were promised a bowl oranges and were given a sack of pine cones instead).

  93. al-Ameda says:

    @stonetools:

    doesn’t touch the problem, which is that she has no money to pay for services, even if the doctors were there to provide them.
    What’s the Republican solution to that?
    Here, go.

    {{{raises hand}}}
    1. Repeal ACA
    2. Repeal ACA
    3. Repeal ACA

  94. David M says:

    It’s been a long time since the right was willing to actually discuss policy. It should make the next few years equally painful and comical.

  95. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: (And seriously: anyone paying attention knows that the bill, in general, is functioning exactly as advertised. It is definitively not the case that we were promised a bowl oranges and were given a sack of pine cones instead).

    No, the bill is NOT “functioning exactly as advertised.” The “advertising” included such key selling points as “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” “the Cadillac Tax will only affect the over-the-top plans,” “states that don’t set up exchanges won’t get subsidies,” and a host of other lies.

    What you seem to fail to grasp is that a lot of people at the time pointed out these lies, and were themselves called liars, frauds, paid-for shills, and worse. Now it’s coming out that they were right all along, and the accusers were themselves lying. And the response from far too many? “What’s the big deal? Of course we lied. We had to lie. It was for everyone’s own good that we lied. Get over it.”

  96. @Jenos Idanian #13: You are entitled to feel persecuted if you like. And yes, there were things like “if you like you plan, etc” that were wrong. Such is politics (and humanity for that matter). I am not one to get all exciting about “lies” told by politicians. You have never seen me claim, for example, that Bush “lied” about Iraq, although he was monumentally wrong (and with consequences far graver than “if you like you plan”).

    However, to pretend like the fundamentals are not functioning as advertised is simply not true.

  97. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    if you like your plan, you can keep your plan

    Kind of a small issue to get worked up about, given that it’s at worst an incomplete explanation, and involved insurance companies choosing to end plans rather than the government. It also didn’t affect very many people, and they even attempted to allow most people to keep their plans.

    the Cadillac Tax will only affect the over-the-top plans

    It hasn’t taken effect yet, and we already established that you don’t understand the policy well enough to discuss it, so this is worth nothing.

    states that don’t set up exchanges won’t get subsidies

    And this is a bald faced lie.

  98. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: However, to pretend like the fundamentals are not functioning as advertised is simply not true.

    Perhaps if you offered examples of what you consider “as advertised,” it would aid things. I gave several selling points that have been shown to be false, but apparently they aren’t what you meant.

  99. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: Oh, David. You seem to think that if you keep saying things, they’ll get more true. Sorry, doesn’t work that way.

    “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. Period.” There ain’t a lot of wiggle room there, no asterisks, no fine print.

    Gruber spelled out how the threshold for the Cadillac Plan tax will move downward over time until every single employer-sponsored plan would be affected. And his explanation is perfectly in tune with how the law is written.

    And as far as the state tax breaks go… that’s before the courts right now. But the language of the law, the arguments made at the time, and the fact that language saying everyone will get the subsidies regardless of what their states do was taken out of the law ain’t on your side.

    Now, if you want to be honest, you could say that the subsidies thing has yet to be finally settled, but you believe it’s the way you want to be. But to assert it as indisputable truth at this point? Why, that’s just dishonest.

    Hold yourself to at least some minimal standards, please.

  100. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    No, the idea that Obamacare was “advertised” as not having subsidies on the federal exchanges is a lie. It is fiction created by the GOP.

    Everything we know about the Cadillac Tax now indicates that plenty of companies will probably avoid paying it, and that it will work as designed to control health care costs. CPI + 1% may actually keep it an appropriate level, the projections showing it covering most plans assume health care costs are going to start increasing dramatically, something that hasn’t happened. The reason Gruber describes it incorrectly is that he was always too skeptical that all of the cost containment pieces of Obamacare would work, and so far his predictions haven’t been accurate.

    The mistake on “if you like your plan you can keep it” was not assuming bad faith on the part of the insurance companies, and adding a disclaimer like “”if you like your plan you can keep it unless your insurance company decides to end it”. And as we know, plenty of insurance companies chose to end their plans instead of continuing to offer them indefinitely as allowed by Obamacare.

    Anyway, “like it, keep it” is certainly more true than the claim that subsidies were never meant to be available on the federal exchange.

  101. @Jenos Idanian #13: Well, you know:

    -Individual mandate

    -The exchanges

    -Medicaid expansion (limited by SCOTUS and state-level recalcitrance)

    -Coverage for pre-existing conditions.

    -etc.

    You know, the actual policy,

  102. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: Gruber spelled it out on the subsidies: they were intended to get voters to push their states to set up the exchanges. Your state doesn’t set it up, you don’t get the money. Simple carrot and stick. And that was the argument made at the time. But that’s up for the courts to decide, not you.

    “If you like your plan” has been given four Pinocchios.

    And the Cadillac plans… well, Gruber spelled out that one, too. It was intended to kill employer-sponsored plans. Not control them, kill them.

    So many of the arguments for ObamaCare were lies. And I don’t mean “lies” as in “they were wrong, but people thought they were correct,” I mean “deliberate falsehoods that the speakers knew were false when they said them, said in order to deceive.”

    So pardon me if I don’t place my blind trust in people who not only admitted they lied, but bragged about it. And no matter how many times you repeat your unfounded assertions, that doesn’t make them true.

  103. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: So, keeping some of the promises counts as “exactly as advertised?”

    Someone notify the FTC.

  104. @Jenos Idanian #13: As is typically the case, when presented with a direct answer to your question that undercuts your assertion you elide the response and further delve into nonsense.

  105. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Gruber’s statements were not part of the “advertising” used to pass health care reform.

  106. David M says:

    @David M:

    I should have been clearer:

    Gruber’s statements in 2012 about exchange subsidies were not part of the “advertising” used to pass health care reform.

  107. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: As is typically the case, when presented with a direct answer to your question that undercuts your assertion you elide the response and further delve into nonsense.

    I didn’t force you to use the phrase “exactly as advertised,” you chose that absolute term freely, and of your own free will. And I presented you with an opportunity to define the term, which you declined. It was only after I pointed out several aspects of the “advertising” that didn’t develop as promised that you chose to spell out what parts you felt did meet the criteria you cited.

    (shrug) You staked out an absolute position that you can’t defend. And instead of acknowledging the error and moving on, you choose to attack me for pointing that out.

    I can handle that. I’m pretty thick-skinned. But it’s a pretty shabby move.

  108. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Treating “exactly as advertised” as an absolute statement doesn’t really serve any purpose other than a meaningless gotcha. It’s just not a useful standard when evaluating public policies, as I doubt it’s ever met. I wonder what it means that you chose to criticize Obamacare for not meeting an impossible standard.

    For the purposes of this discussion, it’s quite clear that Obamacare is working as advertised, except for the Medicaid expansion and potentially the subsidies on the federal exchange, if the GOP wins their case.

  109. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: Those who say “ObamaCare is working exactly as advertised” are being as nakedly partisan and dishonest as those who say things like “ObamaCare is a complete and utter disaster.” Of course it’s working for some people. After all, as George Bernard Shaw said, “a government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”

    The question is whether the benefits gained by some are worth the costs being inflicted. I don’t think they are, and a lot of others agree.

  110. @Jenos Idanian #13: If you are going to play semantic games, at lest get the quote right. I said above:

    anyone paying attention knows that the bill, in general, is functioning exactly as advertised.

    I stand by that: the basics of the bill (such as the list I gave above) is, in fact, working as advertised. That some insurance plans went away does not undercut this statement.

    Of course, all of this underscores why I should not have violated my own self-imposed rules not to engage with you: you are not an honest interlocutor interested in an actual discussion, but rather you just treat all of this like a point-scoring game.

    If you want to play silly games, you can raise “If you like your plan, you can keep it” and I will counter with all the death panel nonsense (politicians frequently exaggerate or make claims about the future that end up being not true–there is nothing shocking about that).

    I will state again: the basic architecture of the ACA are operating as expected (and as advertised, if you want to stick to that language). The major parts that have not been implemented have been due to court action, not because of lies! lies!

    Again: save in cases when it is clear that someone has consciously told an untruth (not a misunderstanding, mistake, exaggeration, dubious claim, etc) I don’t see the point of asserting lies.

    Enough, however, with this notion that the program that ha been put into place is some radical (or even minor) deviation from what we expected.

    (And if you are going to predicate your entire argument on the modifier “exactly”–especially when ignoring the context, including the previous portion of the quote that speaks “in general”– then you are just confirming your own frivolousness).

  111. @Jenos Idanian #13: You do realize that claiming that bill has been working as advertised (meaning that we knew what the policy would look like before hand, and that it has not been some surprise because we were all lied to) to not a claim that it is perfect, or even a claim about whether it is good policy.

    Evaluating the impact of the policy is a separate issue.

  112. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: You’re right, and I apologize. I didn’t catch that you’d qualified an absolute, “exactly,” with weasel wording, “in general.”

    Yes, ObamaCare has helped some people. No one can dispute that. As I quoted earlier, when you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can count on Paul’s support. But it’s also hurt people.

    The question is, are the prices paid worth the benefits gained? Stories like this make me doubt that. Plus, all the accounts of people signing up for coverage to avoid the penalty, but getting plans that have high deductibles they can’t afford to meet either. So they’re signing up for plans they can’t afford to use. They count as “covered,” so that’s all that matters, right?

    And back on the topic at hand… I’m still stuck on how the bill was passed on a bunch of lies. A lot of people knew they were lies. Those that pointed out how they were lies were dismissed and insulted and smeared at the time. Now that we know that they were right, we’re told it was no big deal, just get over it.

  113. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Anecdotes may not be the best way to evaluate if Obamacare is working, given that over 7 million people signed up for coverage on the exchanges, and it covered millions more through other means. Both sides can trot out extreme examples, but we wouldn’t learn how it was really working.

    Criticism of high deductibles shouldn’t ignore the increased number of benefits available without a copay, silver plan cost sharing or the fact that Obamacare reduced deductibles in the individual market.

    And finally, it seems pretty difficult for Obamacare to both be working as advertised but “passed on a bunch of lies”. They are almost mutually exclusive.

  114. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: And finally, it seems pretty difficult for Obamacare to both be working as advertised but “passed on a bunch of lies”. They are almost mutually exclusive.

    Only if you go all absolutist. If you think of it as “benefits delivered,” then the “as advertised” holds up to a certain degree. If you think of it as “harms caused” and “effects not yet fully played out,” then the “bunch of lies” applies.

  115. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    No. “bunch of lies” cannot be used to describe something that hasn’t fully taken effect, or we don’t know exactly what the end result will be.

    As to the “harms caused”, it’s not clear that it’s unexpectedly large number of people. The individual health care insurance market was extremely dysfunctional, so I’m not sure reforming it without inconveniencing anyone was possible. It is absolutely clear that the reforms in the individual health market have been an overall improvement, and most people are better off now. Even the ones who aren’t better off, it may be the case that they just aren’t better off yet. Finally, most of stories about Obamacare harming individuals haven’t stood up to even minimal scrutiny, so it really seems like this is being made into a bigger issue than it really is.