My wife Angela and I disembarked the cruise ship Allure of the Seas early Sunday morning and once back in our car, she immediately turned on the satellite radio to Fox News. The only news channel available onboard was CNN International and Headline News — we truly felt starved. So we quickly learned more about this fella named Jonathan Gruber and the videos that have been released. It was almost comical to hear the tape of the president and Rep. Nancy Pelosi state they had no idea who Gruber was or what he did — especially when the tapes had Gruber talking about his trips to D.C .– yes, to the Oval Office.So, according to a report from The Daily Caller, it seems that Gruber has had a very lucrative career at the expense of the American taxpayer — about whom he referred in not so flattering terms. The Daily Caller writes, “The federal government has paid Jonathan Gruber at least $4 million since the year 2000, for his work as an expert witness, a legal consultant and for his consultation on Obamacare. That comes on top of at least $1.6 million the MIT economist has been paid by several states to consult on their health care bills. Gruber, the so-called architect of Obamacare, came under fire this week after a number of videos emerged of him speaking candidly about how Obamacare was passed.”
Just as a frame of reference, while Angela and I were in our room, we watched a CNN talking head opposite commentator S.E. Cupp state that Gruber was inflating his position in the development of Obamacare and should just be dismissed. Hmm, “Gruber was paid $392,600 by the Department of Health and Human Services for his work on Obamacare. His main contribution was in the realm of economic modeling to help score the bill for budgetary purposes. In a bombshell video from 2013 published this week, Gruber was seen telling an audience of academics “this bill was written in a tortured way to make sure the [Congressional Budget Office] did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies.”
I’m quite sure you all remember the ABC News interview of President Obama with George Stephanopolous where he asked the president if the individual mandate was a fine or a tax — to which the president replied it was a fine. And even the White House Solicitor General argued before the Supreme Court that the individual mandate was not a tax. Of course the SCOTUS decided the individual mandate was not constitutional according to the Commerce Clause — but then Chief Justice Roberts ruled that the mandate fitted within the taxing authority of Congress and ruled it constitutional after all.
Now, for those of you who didn’t realize this, only the U.S. House of Representatives can generate legislation that taxes, in other words revenue generating. Obamacare was initiated from the Senate, a violation of the Constitution — and that point is being brought up as a challenge.As we have stated here on countless occasions, Obamacare features 20 new taxes, and is nothing more than a gross wealth redistribution scheme resulting in the creation of some 159 new government agencies and bureaucracies — one of which is the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) which is a group of unelected bureaucrats who will make all pricing control decisions on MEDICARE — in the 2012 election cycle no one believed that. Now Obamacare is no longer theoretical and conceptual and the ramifications of higher insurance premiums are being felt even close to home.
However, Gruber’s actions just go to demonstrate that the CBO can be manipulated — remember Obamacare was “scored” by the CBO to be revenue neutral and would only cost $940 billion over ten years. We now know that number has almost doubled in taxpayer costs — lots incurred in the unplanned expenditures of the botched rollout this time last year. One of the faults of the CBO mechanism is that the scoring analysis is “static” rather than dynamic — in others words, it will spit out an assessment based on what is put in. This is another part of government spending reform that must be tackled.
And speaking of government outlays, the Daily Caller informs, “Gruber has done other work for the federal government. The Department of Justice paid Gruber $1.737 million between 2000 and 2005 for providing legal services as an expert witness, according to the site USASpending.gov, which tracks federal expenditures. The State Department paid Gruber $103,500 in 2008 and 2009 to provide legal services. On top of that, as The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler reported Friday, Gruber also earned $2.05 million from the National Institutes of Health. Including his work on Obamacare, the federal government has paid Gruber $4,283,100 since 2000. That sum does not include the millions Gruber has earned for consulting work he’s done for various states. As Kessler reports, Gruber earned $481,050; $329,000; $400,000; and $400,000 from the states of Michigan, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin, respectively. Gruber has done work on other states’ health care bills, including Massachusetts and California. All told, Gruber has earned at least $5,893,100 for his work for federal and state governments.”So folks, I find it completely unbelievable that no one knew about Jonathan Gruber. But I find it even more unbelievable that Mr. Gruber was so transparent about the lack of transparency when it comes to the massive policy endeavor known as Obamacare.
It does however clearly demonstrate we have an issue with the analysis of government spending and how legislation is evaluated and “scored” by the CBO. That should be the real concern for the American taxpayer — that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) system is vulnerable to a really slick — and well paid — MIT economist.