In case you missed it, Obamacare is headed back to the Supreme Court based on an absurd reading of the law that says federal subsidies are only available to residents of states which established health insurance exchanges, and not the 36 states that are covered by the federal exchanges. It’s a reading of the law that no one involved ever intended or foresaw, and against which there is a mountain of evidence making clear the law’s intent. Then, there’s Jonathan Gruber, the Obamacare “architect” who is the only other person in the world to construe that reading of the law, on video, at least twice. He couldn’t have blown it worse if he’d said that the law was drafted on Obama’s real birth certificate:
“What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits—but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill.
“That is really the ultimate threat, is, will people understand that, gee, if your governor doesn’t set up an exchange, you’re losing hundreds of millions of dollars of tax credits to be delivered to your citizens.”
There’s not a whole lot of wiggle room there, and while Gruber now sees things differently (he’s filed an amicus brief for the government in the current case, Halbig v. Burwell), Griber has done very little to explain away his bad week that January. He called it a “mistake” and a “speak-o,” which is like a typo you make with your mouth. Sorry, but a “speak-o” is saying “Fuckabee,” not misstating a policy twice, in the space of a week, on video.
That’s why I was so glad to hear Gruber would be on MSNBC today, speaking out about the case, because if anyone needs a chance to explain himself, or at least get verbally kicked around for awhile, it’s this fuckin’ guy. Say anything, man, sing a few bars of “Because I Got High,” say Christine O’Donnell cast a spell on you, something!
As it turns out, Gruber also has some new old video to answer for, something which included the words “stupidity” and “American voter”:
I’m looking forward to his turn as White House Press Secretary next Opposite Day.
Gruber, of course, apologized on MSNBC for correctly calling the American voter (63% of whom stayed home this year, the rest of whom put these people in charge) “stupid,” but check out the amazing way Gruber’s other comments came up in conversation:
“It’s blatantly clear through the interpretation of the law that Congress completely intended these subsidies to be available to all the states.”
It is at this point that a normal person would say, “Well, then why did you say the opposite of that, at length, on video, twice, which you are now famous for?” It’s inexcusable that a cable news host, even Ronan Farrow, let that slide. It’d be like having Marie Antionette on to explain that the people can’t even afford bread, let alone cake.
I don’t think Gruber is going to be much of an issue when the Supreme Court takes this up, and I don’t even think that a losing result will necessarily be that bad for Obamacare. Ironically, that’s because Gruber’s wrong reading of the law got the politics of this situation right. Even if the courts strike down the subsidies, the states will then have to decide if they “establish” exchanges by the end of the year (now that the federal exchanges are up, a stroke of the pen could satisfy that requirement), or collapse their own state’s entire health insurance market.
And if that happens, it won’t just be the working poor who get screwed.