Among the 20,000 emails obtained from MIT by the House Oversight Committee were several between MIT economics professor Jonathan Gruber and the former head of both the Congressional Budget Office (2007-2008) and the Office of Management and Budget (2009-2010) Peter Orszag.
They prove what many long suspected to be true: the two boy wonder economics Phds. schemed for years to sell Obamacare to politicians by using economic modeling as a propaganda tool.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “[t]he emails show frequent consultations between Mr. Gruber and top Obama administration staffers and advisers in the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services on the Affordable Care Act.”
The Wall Street Journal is the only media outlet the House Oversight Committee has allowed to see the emails.
Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, blasted the White House for deceiving the public about Gruber’s truly pivotal role in the development and selling of Obamacare:
His proximity to HHS and the White House was a whole lot tighter than they admitted. . . There’s no doubt he was a much more integral part of this than they’ve said. He put up this facade he was an arm’s length away. It was a farce.
Among the White House and HHS officials with whom Gruber communicated, according to the Wall Street Journal, were: “Jason Furman, an economic adviser to the president. . . Ezekiel Emanuel, who was then a special adviser for health policy at OMB… Jeanne Lambrew, a top Obama administration health adviser who worked at HHS and the White House,” his former mentor Harvard economics professor Lawrence Summers, at the time the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury (a year later he became Secretary of the Treasury), and Orszag, his long time friend and collaborator on economics papers and projects.
The relationship between Gruber and Summers extends back to the late 1980s when Gruber entered the Harvard Economics Phd. program. The relationship between Gruber and Orszag extends back to 1997-1998, the academic year Gruber took a leave from his MIT economics professor job to work for Summers at Treasury as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy. Orszag served as a Special Assistant for Economic Policy to President Bill Clinton during that same time.
Gruber, born in 1965, was 32 in the fall of 1997 when they first began collaborating on public policy issues, while Orszag, born in December 1968, was 28.
The similarity in the backgrounds of the two academic wunderkinds is remarkable
Both were the sons of professors at prestigious east coast universities. Gruber’s father, Martin, was a professor of finance at New York University. Orszag’s father, Steven, was a professor of mathematics at Yale University.
Gruber got his undergraduate degree from MIT, then earned a Phd. in economics from Harvard at the age of 27 in 1992, and was soon named an assistant professor at MIT.
Orszag got his undergraduate degree from Princeton and earned a Phd. in economics from the London School of Economics in 1997 at the age of 28 and was soon named as a Special Assistant for Economic Policy to President Bill Clinton.
“In early 1998, Summers gave Gruber what Gruber says was “the best advice of my life,” author Steven Brill reported in his 2015 book, America’s Bitter Pill:
Summers told Gruber-an outgoing guy who had the intellectual chops of any Ivy League academic without the withdrawn personality-that he could carve out a great career creating economic models that provided practical advice to politicians and policy makers seeking to understand the implications and likely results of the policies they were debating.
“Academics usually didn’t do that,” Gruber later explained. “They didn’t connect what they were doing to specific policy debates in real time so they could chime in with real, practical answers. I loved the thought of that.”
This fact is one Orszag is unlikely to dispute, since he was impressed with Brill’s book, of which he wrote, “Steven Brill’s new book about the process of passing the Affordable Care Act is so meticulously reported, I found myself surprised by many details of a process I myself was deeply involved in. . . . Brill has written an outstanding book about the administration’s efforts to pass Obamacare. Now it is up to the administration to prove him wrong about what the legislation does to the trajectory of health-care costs.”
Beginning in 1997, Gruber and Orszag began working together closely, publishing a variety of studies and reports together on health care economics.
In September 2000, Gruber and Orszag jointly published a report for the National Bureau of Economic Research titled “Does the Social Security Earnings Test Affect Labor Supply and Benefits Receipt?”
In April 2006, Gruber, Orszag and William Gale co-authored a Brookings Institute research paper, “Improving Opportunities and Incentives for Saving by Middle- and Low-Income Households.”
Orszag, who ran “The Hamilton Project” for the Brookings Institute at the time, also invited Gruber to be a contributor to a book titled Path to Prosperity: Hamilton Project Ideas on Income Security, Education, and Taxes.
In 2007, when the Democrats took back control of the House of Representatives, Orszag was named head of the Congressional Budget Office. One of his first moves was to focus on health care reform. He brought in his ally Gruber to build the CBO’s health care economic model, which would later be used as the critical “scoring” tool needed to sell the program to Congress.
When Orszag was named head of the OMB in January 2009, several of Gruber’s Phd. students were left behind at CBO to run its scoring model. Orszag himself moved quickly to make sure that Gruber won a $400,000 no-bid economic modeling contract in March 2009 with the Department of Health and Human Services. Gruber’s job was to create a model that mimicked and predicted the results of the CBO model he himself had designed.
From that moment on, Gruber worked hand-in-glove with Orszag and other White House and HHS officials to develop and deliver the kind of economic propaganda (disguised as “modeling”) needed to sell Obamacare to politicians.
As The Hill reported in November, shortly after his infamous video declaration that American voters suffered from stupidity, “Gruber frequently visited [the] White House.”
The ObamaCare consultant drawing fire for mocking the “stupidity of the American voter” visited the White House on nearly two dozen occasions and met with President Obama in the West Wing, according to a review of visitor logs.
MIT professor Jonathan Gruber held a series of high-level meetings with administration officials beginning in 2009 and extending through June of this year .
During the height of 2009’s ObamaCare debate, Gruber met repeatedly with former Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, National Economic Council Director Larry Summers, and Jeanne Lambrew, the deputy director of the White House Office of Health Reform, among other officials. He also participated in a meeting of economists with President Obama.
In subsequent trips, Gruber received tours of the West Wing and the residence, and had breakfast at the White House mess, an exclusive West Wing cafeteria. He also met with Jason Furman, who now chairs the Council of Economic Advisers, and Nancy-Ann DeParle, the White House’s point person on ObamaCare’s implementation.
The visitor logs, which are publicly available but were first reported by The Wall Street Journal, show Gruber has visited the White House 21 times during the Obama presidency. Some of the records are incomplete — missing details about when Gruber entered or exited the complex — so it’s possible that some of those visits did not occur.
Mainstream media journalist Mark Halperin, who had long scoffed at conservative claims that Gruber was a central player in the development and selling of Obamacare, found the new email so compelling he publicly apologized in an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Monday.
“I owe all my Republican sources an apology because they kept telling me he was hugely involved and the White House played it down. They were right. The Republicans were right,” Halperin told Scarborough.
The Democrat controlled House and Senate passed The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in March 2010. The Supreme Court ruled it was constitutional in June 2012. A new challenge to the constitutionality of tax subsidies to Obamacare users in states that did not establish their own health care exchanges is pending in King v. Burwell. The Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision in that case by next week at the latest.