Gruber in July 2012, Confirmed In White House Logs: Obama Discussed Benefits Taxation Subterfuge

November 13th, 2014 8:22 PM

I think this makes six videos (CNN says they have Number 4, and I believe this is Number 5) of Obamacare co-architect Jonathan Gruber giving away the Obama administration's comprehensively deceptive game in drafting and promoting the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

The most relevant 40-second snip is at the YouTube account and a Thursday afternoon post by the indispensable Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit. It's a small portion of a 33-minute June 2012 interview of Gruber at PBS's Frontline. The most important revelation is that President Barack Obama was in the room and actively participating in, if not leading, a discussion about how to effectively take away the tax benefits of the most generous healthcare plans which were then being offered in the marketplace. What resulted is now known as the "Cadillac Tax." But there is much more to that Frontline video.

First, the 40-second snip, in which Gruber is discussing a meeting he attended "in the summer of 2009":


Now, the problem is, it’s a political nightmare, … and people say, “No, you can’t tax my benefits.” So what we did a lot in that room was talk about, well, how could we make this work? And Obama was like, “Well, you know” — I mean, he is really a realistic guy. He is like, “Look, I can’t just do this.” He said: “It is just not going to happen politically. The bill will not pass. How do we manage to get there through phases and other things?” And we talked about it. And he was just very interested in that topic.

The primary "other thing" ended up being the idea, instead of forthrightly treating a portion of the premiums paid in plans providing "excessive" healthcare benefits as taxable income, of punitively taxing the plans themselves. Insurance companies would then be forced to pass through the costs of those taxes to such plans, which would then rather quickly cause them to seriously trim their benefits or go out of existence.

Another element of the deception, apparently done to placate and misdirect organized labor, many of whose better-paid members benefit significantly from such plans as a result of years of negotiations with affected employers, was to delay implementation of this "Cadillac tax" until 2018.

As Gruber describes it, Obama was effectively asking his advisers — one of whom was obviously Gruber, despite recent White House denials — to come up with some sort of subterfuge. So they did.

At his blog post, Gateway Pundit's Hoft, with a graphic showing the "visitee" as "POTUS" (President of the United States), has shown that "On July 20, 2009, Jonathan Gruber ... (met) with POTUS in the West Wing. He was there almost four hours."

Hoft's takeaway:

Obama was at the center of this deception. He specifically ordered Gruber and other “healthcare experts” to find ways to game the CBO numbers so that the bill would pass. In his gleeful showboating over passing the bill, Jonathan Gruber has clearly identified President Obama as the source of the lie behind the Cadillac Tax. The story is no longer about Jonathan Gruber. It’s about the deliberate lie the President used to pass this monstrosity of a healthcare law.

But there's more. It turns out that in that same Frontline interview, Gruber, who was the primary architect of what came to be known as RomneyCare in Massachusetts, admits at the 3:51 mark that its passage during the middle of last decade and subsequent implementation depended on hundreds of millions of dollars a year of "slush fund" money — his words! — continuing to flow in from Washington:

FRONTLINE HOST: What brings him (Mitt Romney) to this moment where he's prepared in any way to look at it, to think about it, consider it, take it on? Because it doesn't seem like the kind of thing a CEO-style governor would embrace or mount as an issue to take on.

GRUBER: Actually, that's wrong. I mean, what really appeals to him as a CEO-style governor was that the pieces were aligned to make this work. And the pieces were the following: First of all, we had a relatively low uninsurance rate, so it would not be as expensive to cover the uninsured as in other states.

Second of all, we had already done one of the hardest steps, which is we reformed our insurance market to not allow insurers to discriminate against the sick. (As a result, Massachusetts had, and recently still had, one of the most if not the most expensive healthcare regimes in the nation. — Ed.) Now, we had done that doing nothing else, and the result was we had destroyed our insurance market, and we can come back to that. That's why you need a mandate. But in some sense we had already taken that step. But as a result we had this sort of destroyed insurance market. (In other words, they destroyed the insurance market in Massachusetts and dumped it on Mitt Romney to try to save it, which clearly only partially exonerates the Governor for what he allowed to occur on his watch. — Ed.)

Third, we had a major source of financing in place, which we had formerly had a pretty powerful senator named Ted Kennedy who had been delivering about $400 million a year in slush funds to our safety-net hospitals that the Bush administration was threatening to take away.

The Romney administration, to their credit, went to Washington and said, "Can we keep this money if we use it to cover the uninsured?" And the Bush administration, to their credit, said yes.

So those pieces pulled together made a really interesting opportunity to actually cover the uninsured and fix a broken, non-group market on the federal dime. And that was a really unique opportunity, which I think Romney as a kind of management consultant was excited to take advantage of.

In other words, Romneycare "worked" because the rest of the nation was secretly forced to foot the bill.

In other words, statist health care has been a decade-long scam which has never really "worked" without massive doses of other people's money.

If form holds, none of this will probably be news at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, which still has no story on Gruber at its national site. Nor will probably see anything at ABC, NBC, PBS (even though one of their programs has now been entered as evidence), NPR, the New York Times, or the Los Angeles Times.

But with each revelation, the possiblity that their bottle-up efforts will seriously backfire on their long-term credibility — and in turn, their viability — increases.

Cross-posted at