Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economist who was credited as one of the architects of the Affordable Care Act, said on Tuesday that he was neither, “a politician nor a political adviser,” and insisted he, “was not the architect of President Obama’s health care plan.”
The MIT professor faced hostile members of the House Oversight House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Tuesday as he tried to explain his input into Obamacare — and apologized repeatedly for a series of incendiary comments he was caught making about its passage.
Gruber, who was reportedly paid millions to consult on the creation of the Affordable Care Act and various states’ related health care exchanges — but who was largely unknown to the public until videos surfaced in which he mocked the “stupidity of the American voter” — apologized for his statements which he Tuesday labeled as “mean,” “glib” and “arrogant.”
The economist was recorded boasting that keeping the public in the dark about President Obama’s signature legislative act was essential to those who created it. “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage,” Gruber said, “and, basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever. But basically that was really critical to getting the thing to pass.”
On the Hill, Gruber insisted he was not the, “architect of President Obama’s health care plan,” as some labeled him, however, there was no getting around the fact that Gruber did have serious input during the drafting of the law as a key economic adviser. He visited the White House more than 20 times as it was being developed, and personally met with President Obama in that time as well.
Although she denied knowing who he was when the videos began making headlines, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi touted Gruber’s work in speeches and on a 2009 blog posting on her official website.
The exchanges with Gruber were occasionally tense. Fed up with what he perceived as Gruber’s posturing at one point, California Republican Darrell Issa, the House Oversight chair, asked the MIT professor point blank, “Are you stupid?”
“I don’t think so, no,” Gruber responded. When asked if MIT employs stupid people, Gruber again said “no.”
Finally, Issa asked, “So you’re a smart man who said…some really stupid things?” With that, Gruber agreed with his questioner.
Along with other Republicans taking their own pokes at Gruber, Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the committee, added, “Stupid — I mean absolutely stupid comments. They were irresponsible, incredibly disrespectful and did not reflect reality.”
Cummings also acknowledged that Gruber’s statements insulting the intelligence of the American public did serious harm to the Affordable Care Act, saying it was a “public relations gift” to the GOP, and concluding, “You wrapped it up with a bow.”
Near the beginning of his testimony, Gruber said that he, “made a series of inexcusable and offensive comments, where I conjectured with a tone of expertise to try to make myself seem smarter by demeaning others, and I apologize for that.”
“I behaved badly and I’ll have to live with that,” Gruber added. “But my own inexcusable arrogance is not a flaw in the Affordable Care Act. The ACA is a milestone accomplishment for our nation that has already provided millions of Americans with health insurance.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Read More →