Obamacare Architect Met with Obamacare Author the Afternoon Before His 'Typo'

Obamacare Architect Met with Obamacare Author the Afternoon Before His 'Typo'

On July 24th, footage surfaced of Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economist and the chief architect of Obamacare, discussing the issue at the heart of the latest ACA court cases: whether subsidies are only available for state-run insurance exchanges or can also be paid as part of a federal exchange.

During a January 18, 2012 videotaped lecture, Gruber said, “I think 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.”

The next day, Gruber spoke with Jonathan Cohn, a senior editor at The New Republic, about the video and said the remarks were a “mistake” made while “speaking off-the-cuff.”

However, several events just hours prior to Gruber’s speech raise additional questions about this “typo.”

  1. Gruber met with author of Obamacare — According to White House visitor records (hat tip to Rich W), Gruber met with Gruber met with Health and Human Services (HHS) Director Liz Fowler the day before his 3:30 lecture. Prior to working at the White House, Fowler worked for Sen. Max Baucus (D-MO) as the Chief Health and Welfare Counsel for the Senate Finance Committee – the committee responsible for authoring Obamacare. After the bill was enacted, Baucus publicly thanked Fowler, stating, “I wish to single out one person, and that one person is sitting next to me. Her name is Liz Fowler. Liz Fowler is my chief health counsel. Liz Fowler has put my health care team together… She put together the White Paper last November-2008-the 87-page document which became the basis, the foundation, the blueprint from which almost all health care measures in all bills on both sides of the aisle came.”

  2. Gruber met a “powerful” White House official involved in implementing Obamacare — Early the next morning and the day of the lecture, Gruber had a meeting, according to White House records, with Jeanne Lambrew. As Scott Gotlieb wrote in a Forbes March 2013 op-ed titled “Who’s In Charge Of Implementing Obamacare And Why It Matters,” “The people drafting and reviewing the regulations are mostly centered in the White House and its Domestic Policy Council–and they mostly work for Jeanne Lambrew.”

    Of note, according to a Frontiers of Freedom article dated October 10, 2013, titled “White House and IRS Exchanged Confidential Taxpayer Information,” Lambrew, who is also involved in the IRS Tea Party targeting scandal, stated: “Ingram attempted to counsel the White House on a lawsuit from religious organizations opposing Obamacare’s contraception mandate. Email exchanges involving Ingram and White House officials–including White House health policy advisor Ellen Montz and deputy assistant to the president for health policy Jeanne Lambrew–contained confidential taxpayer information, according to Oversight.”

    It should be noted that according to White House records, Gruber had not been in the White House in almost 6 months prior to these two meetings and did not come again for another 6 months.

  3. White House report highlights focus on establishing state exchanges — Later that morning, the White House released a report promoting the fact that “Under the health reform law, States have the first opportunity to set up and manage an Exchange, and States are taking action. Today, we released a new report which finds 28 States have taken important steps toward establishing their own Exchanges.”

    The nine page report begins, “In the nearly two years since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, all States have taken some action to implement health reform.” The report goes on to provide a positive progress report from ten states with quotes from each state’s legislators expressing their commitment and the benefits to establishing an exchange in their state.

    Clearly, this was put out as a carrot by the White House to encourage states that had not acted as aggressively to create their own exchanges.

  4. On January 18th, Gruber provides the “stick” — Later that day, after Gruber’s two White House meetings and after the White House’s distribution of its encouraging state exchange status report, Gruber made his “mistake.”

The timing of these events raises a key question: Is it a coincidence that the only times Gruber visited the White House in a year were the day before and the day of his “mistake”? Furthermore, this “off-the-cuff” statement, which a second video and several of Gruber’s publications, revealed it was not simply an errant “typo” that took place on the same day the White House released its encouraging state exchange status report.

This “coincidence,” coupled with all the other evidence that has surfaced over the last two weeks is growing increasingly more problematic for the White House. More information is sure to emerge. This is another step towards Oblimination – the reversal of Obama’s failed policies.

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